Juggling the commitments of parenthood and work isn’t straight forward. Many of my customers are Mums returning to work who often come up with the same query… “Do you have any suggestions of how to make a smooth return to work after having a child?”
It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed at the prospect of returning to the work routine you had before children. I’m a parent of 2 teenagers and have felt the pang of nerves before returning to work, so I’m with you on this point and can empathise if you are feeling this too. The work routine that used to feel so familiar now seems daunting. Your brain is filled with childcare schedules, nursery rhymes, wondering what the next meal is going to be or if there’s enough food in the house instead of project deadlines, work events, passwords and meetings.
This article gives parents making this big step some practical ideas to help you prepare for your return to work:-
Be clear on what you want and what’s right for you. You’ve gone through a massive stage of transition and now’s the time to think about what you want out of your career and how you can combine this with family life.
Spend time identifying your priorities as this will help you decide whether you want to return to the same role, whether you want to work full time or part time or whether you want to change your career completely. Contact me if you’d like to talk things through and get some advice on your options.
Organising childcare will be another primary focus. Working out suitable childcare early on will allow time for you and your child to settle in to the routine before you return to work. There are so many options and different ways of arranging suitable cover for your child. Minimise stress for you all by not leaving it to the last minute to make a plan. Speak to friends, family and colleagues for recommendations. Have some trial days booked in before your first day to see how your child adjusts and make sure they are happy so you all know what to expect when your first day back arrives and everyone can settle in to the routine calmly.
Build a community of people that you know you can support and rely on to help with last minute childcare emergencies or for when you need any general support.
Get ahead of yourself by working out how the weekly home tasks will happen and who’s doing them. Using automated systems to make day to day life management easier is a good idea so meal planning and house chores keep ticking over. Avoid frustration arising by focusing on these areas in advance rather than last minute which can add to stress.
List out your strengths. Remind yourself of the skills you’ve developed over the years. Be sure to include positive feedback you received from your customers/clients. It’s easy to feel that you have forgotten everything while you’ve been off work. The time you spend doing this is so valuable and you’ll boost your confidence in the process.
Time to enhance your skills? Now you’ve identified your strengths, consider if you need to enhance your knowledge base. If you plan ahead, you can get more tech savvy or do some training sessions. There are many online courses and learning platforms that are available for you to connect to from your home – check out websites such as Skillshare and Udemy.
Spend time researching the changes that might have happened in your field of work while you’ve been off. Use LinkedIn, speak to colleagues and check out what your clients have been up to so you feel more confident.
Be patient and kind to yourself. It’s easy to think of other family members needs before your own. You’re important too. Remember to fuel your body well with nutritious food, schedule ‘you time’ for self-care, exercise and replenish yourself. It takes time for new routines to settle in during any period of adjustment but if you keep calm and have a vision of what you are trying to aim for you will get there.
If you‘re organised and in a positive frame of mind it is possible to achieve a pretty smooth and enjoyable return to work. Be honest with yourself, those close to you and your employer with what is achievable and what you can deliver. Be gentle on yourself too as you go through this time of adjustment and good luck!
Contact katie@meaningfulrecruitment for 1:1 help if you are making the transition back to work. Go to www.meaningfulrecruitment.co.uk for more information.