How to set yourself up for a great return
When you're back at work
Cut back on any unnecessary extras both at work and at home to give you and your family plenty of breathing space in the first few weeks. At home, this might mean lowering your domestic standards even more or simply doing less. Professionally, the relationship-building activities such as client networking and socials with colleagues can be gently ramped up late. And remember, there's always the option of popping along to socials for one or two key conversations (even if it's just to flag that you're back) and heading off after less than an hour.
Anna McLaggan, associate, Brodies LLP
Research by the author of the book Mothers Work! into emotions when returning to work found the following percentages of feelings experienced by the 132 women asked: happiness = 53%; guilt = 74%; valued = 65%; free = 74%; dread = 35%; anxiety = 64%. Whatever emotions you're feeling, they're probably normal and will shift to something stable and positive within a couple of months. Some key thoughts:
- "I found the first few weeks a real struggle and I came close to resigning. However, I got used to it and appreciate it all the more now."
- "I have returned to work three times and each time it's been hard initially but after only a few months I am settled and I'm sure it's the right thing for us. No harm in trying it, you can always do something else if it doesn't work out as you'd like."
- Hang in there at least three months - it takes time to get used to the new routine."
Over to you
- What stands out for you? What's worth sharing with your line manager?
- What action points will go on your to-do list? Who can support you?
- What's the first thing you're going to do?
- Also see the other 11 guides in our Parents in the Profession series
- Breastfeeding at work - a useful guide for employers and employees on what the law says and best practice
- Case study of 'transition time' at law firm Morrison & Foerster LLP
- Chapter seven 'Prepare for a smooth return' in Mothers Work! How to Get a Grip on Guilt and Make a Smooth Return to Work by Jessica Chivers (Hay House, 2011)
- Shared Parental Leave FAQs