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Navigating the return to work after maternity leave

The transition back to work after maternity leave is a time filled with mixed emotions, ranging from excitement and anticipation to anxiety and guilt. It may feel like you’ve only just adjusted to being a parent and now you have to figure out what being a working parent means!

It’s more than just a logistical adjustment; it's a significant emotional and psychological shift. Many parents struggle with feelings of guilt about leaving their child in someone else's care and worry about balancing work and family responsibilities. These emotions are completely normal and valid, and it's essential to give yourself permission to feel them without judgment. And remember you are not alone in feeling like this.

Here are some top tips to help you navigate the journey and make a smooth transition back to the workplace:

  • 1. Be kind to yourself - Understand that it's okay to feel a range of emotions during this time. Allow yourself to experience them without judgment or self-criticism. Practise self-care - taking care of yourself is essential for maintaining your wellbeing. 

  • 2. Communicate with your employer - Open and honest communication with your employer is key. Discuss your needs and concerns regarding your return to work, such as flexible working arrangements or gradual transition back to full-time hours. A supportive employer should work with you to find solutions that accommodate your needs.

  • 3. Build a support network -  Find a supportive network of friends, family, and colleagues who understand and empathise with your situation. Having people to lean on during this transition can provide emotional support and practical assistance when needed.

  • 4. Work out logistics - Having a robust childcare plan that works with your work schedule is crucial. Ensure you work out how you’re going to divide childcare responsibilities with your partner (if you have one). Who will do drop offs and pick ups? What’s the plan if your child is sick and can’t be looked after by your usual childcare provider?

  • 5. Focus on quality time - Make the most of the time you have with your child outside of work hours. Focus on quality over quantity, and make an effort to be present when you spend time together.  Returning to work after maternity leave is undoubtedly a significant transition, both emotionally and psychologically. By acknowledging the challenges and taking proactive steps to support yourself through this journey, you can navigate this transition successfully.  In time, enabling you to thrive in both your career and as a parent.


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