In just over two short months, my maternity leave is coming to an end *sob*. At the end of August, I will be saying goodbye to my leggings and bag full of nappies and baby wipes, and instead swapping them for a smart office dress and a bag full of working mum essentials, such as my diary, my purse, my business cards and my pen (the sperm pen from Kicks Count is my pen of choice, although that choice is possibly slightly frowned upon for external meetings).
When I returned to work after having a year off with Erin, I definitely suffered from being out the workplace for so long. Before I started maternity leave back in August 2016 I shared my tips for avoiding a confidence crisis second time around. I have managed to heed my own advice for the majority, so here are my main methods to curtail the crisis and come back confident.
KIT days If you can, make the use of your keeping in touch days – whilst I haven’t done any official days in the office whilst on maternity leave, I have done some KIT days at home, doing some project work for my employer which has kept me actively in the loop. I have also kept relatively up to date on my emails (not actioning them of course), but reading them enough to be familiar with new starters / leavers / new systems / new legislation etc. Working in HR, this is really important, as everything changes so fast, and there is nothing worse than not knowing names and faces.
Keep your brain active – that I most definitely have done, and for me, the blog is a huge part of that, and part of the reason I set it up on my first period of maternity leave. Over the last 9 months I have built upon the web design, social media and SEO skills I learnt in a basic format the first time around, and I can put these into practice in my role when I return. It is a nice feeling to go back knowing I can take a new skill with me in addition to my rapid nappy changing talents.
Go and visit – I have visited a number of times during maternity leave, taking both Neve and Erin to visit my friends and colleagues. These visits have been largely social, but have been a great way to keep the relationships with my colleagues alive, as well as show that I am committed to my employer. We have had a new staff member in the team whilst I have been on maternity leave, and I was invited in to meet her for lunch. Even little things like that will help the transition.
Try and keep up to date where you can – depending on the industry you are in – try and still read around your subject. For example – my day job is human resources, so I will try and keep abreast of changes in employment law by reading relevant news articles, reading my CIPD magazines, and where possible doing online webinars every so often. This doesn’t need to take up much time, but stops you from feeling totally confused when you go back!
Remember who you are – you don’t just lose all the skills you’ve worked so hard to build up the minute you go on maternity leave, so don’t let yourself feel like it. This one is easier said than done, but you CAN be a Mummy and a career woman at the same time, you just need to enjoy being a mummy for a little while first.
Settling In Sessions – If your child is going into nursery or will be staying with a childminder, you may want to start your child’s settling in sessions slightly earlier than necessary. I for example, have put Neve into nursery two weeks earlier than my scheduled return to work date. I didn’t fancy the idea of blubbing on my boss or worrying about having left a clingy baby without her Mum. I will instead do those things in the comfort of my own home and hopefully she will be used to her new routine by the time I return to the office!
Treat Yourself – I promised myself that I would be slim by the time I returned from maternity leave. I still have a LOT of work to do on that front, but I will at least treat myself to some new work clothes. Nothing helps confidence more than a smart dress and heels! I may be feeling like jelly and doubting myself on the inside but on the outside I will be power dressing to the max! 🙂
Cherish the Weekends and Evenings – This is a total cliché phrase but in my experience it is true. Returning to work makes you value more the time you have with your children at weekends and evenings, no matter how small this time may be. Sure, I’d love a bit longer with them before bed when I get home at 6.30pm, but I cherish the weekends and the days we have out together as a family.
I hope my transition back to the workplace is a smooth one, but for now, I am going to make the most of the two months I have left, and just need the sunshine to return so that we can properly enjoy it! Don’t get me started on getting used to a school run, nursery run AND work run however – that’s a whole other ball game!
What tips would you give to keeping your confidence on maternity leave?
*This is a collaborative post. Simon Jersey is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of uniforms to businesses in a wide variety of business sectors