About to go back to work after mat leave and quaking in your TopShop Chelsea boots? Our guide to rejoining the workforce will help get you prepped and ready to make your #mumback
You’ve spent the last six to 12 months staring doey-eyed at your shiny new arrival, getting to know her and filling your days with baby groups, coffee mornings and playdates. But now, as the clock ticks closer to the day you head back to work, you can’t help but feel the full force of PMLF (that’s Post Mat Leave Fear.)
How will you be able to survive one hour, let alone eight, without so much as a giggle from your little one? How will you keep your shirt baby sick free by the time you arrive at the office? And how will you get it together in a meeting when the only thing in your head is the theme tune to In the Night Garden?
But going back to work doesn’t have to mean the bursting of your new baby bubble. It could, in fact, be the start of an exciting new chapter for you and your family. A chance to rediscover the old you – the smart, successful and seriously good at their job you. At the very least you’ll be able to enjoy a hot cup of tea.
It’s natural to feel out of the loop after taking time out of the work place, but often you just need a little reminder about office life. It needn’t have to be formal. Just ring/email/Facebook one of your colleagues for a chat. They will be able to fill you in on the comings, goings, office gossip and of course chat about last night’s Corrie (Peppa who?). Not only will it help you feel connected, it might also remind you of the fun you had at work. Sometimes!
Keep in Touch
Keep In Touch (KIT) days which are paid (score!) can help make the return to work simpler and less stressful. Use one of your KIT days to get the baby settled with their new childcare – settling in days aren’t just for the benefit of baby, they’re great for mums too, so this will give you both a chance to get used to your new routine.
Ease yourself in...
Use holiday accrued during your mat leave to phase a return to full time by working a few weeks at three days a week then gradually building up. And try to begin your return to work mid-week so that you only have two to three days before your first weekend break. It will help you feel less tired, emotionally and physically.
Do a Dry Run
Imagine it’s your first day back, get up, get dressed and test out how long it takes you from childcare to work at the time you’d normally be doing it – cancelled trains, traffic jams and torrential rain included, you’ve missed the commute really. It will make you feel a hell of a lot better on your first day back knowing you’ve given it a dry run and it works (hopefully!).
Mandy Garner from workingmums.co.uk also suggests putting a contingency plan in place. ‘Think through things like who will take time off if the baby is sick, what to do in emergencies and what will happen if you get stuck at the office,’ she says.
Give yourself a work-over
Your wardrobe may feel more frumpy than fashionista right now, but that’s easily rectified. Spend an hour putting together some work-wear outfits you feel confident in from your existing wardrobe and treat yourself to a back-to-work spree – even if it’s more bargain than blowout, never has there been a better excuse to go shopping!
Tone down the baby talk
“You’re bound to miss your baby during the early days at work, but try not to make a huge issue out of it,’ advises Kasie Davies, founder and CEO of recruitment site maternitycover.com ‘You want colleagues to see you’re enjoying being back and are 100% committed to your job. Be strict with yourself. The less you dwell on negative feelings, the less they will touch you.’
Don’t peg it out the door
Imagine how many mums have had an emergency dash to the loo for a blub in the first week back? The important thing is to give it time. Going back to work as a new mum is a massive transition and it will take some getting used to, but just as you survived the sleepless nights, teething tantrums and explosive nappies you’ll survive this. Your new working mums support network will help you through. And there’s always that hot cup of tea!