Over the past few months I have been transitioning back to work after having been on maternity leave. When it comes to welcoming a new baby to the family there is a lot of excitement and joy. There is also a fair amount of stress and anxiety. I have been very fortunate to have some flexibility in my transition back to work. The encouragement I’ve received from my AMPED colleagues has been really incredible and I can’t thank them enough for their support!
Going back to work after maternity leave is a deeply personal experience and there is certainly no “one-size-fits-all” approach. However, there are a few things I’ve done that have helped make it a little easier.
Frequent and honest communication has made all the difference. Prior to going on leave my coworkers and I made a point of meeting several times. These meetings served as an opportunity to figure out who would cover my workload while I was out and to formulate a plan for my return. We made sure to spread these meetings out throughout my pregnancy — not just at the end — so that we had plenty of time to plan for everything that needed to be covered. While I was on leave, my focus was on my new baby, recovery and family, but as the date of my return to work approached my anxiety level increased, so I made a point of checking in with the office. Getting a quick update on what had been happening while I was out made my first few days back less stressful.
I have been extremely fortunate in my transition. One thing that helped was to come back to work gradually in the first few weeks. I’ve known several people who have taken this approach in different ways. A friend of mine who was going back to work full-time made her first day back in the office a Thursday which gave her a couple of days to readjust to the office, a few days for her baby to adjust to day care, and a weekend to work out any schedule adjustments. Another friend whose day care was nearer her home than her office arranged to work from home the first week back at work. Her son went to day care and she followed a normal work schedule from home. That way if her son needed her during those first few days she was close by. This decreased her stress and she was able to get more work done. I realize that this gradual approach may not be a realistic option in all cases but, if it is possible, it can be extremely beneficial.
As I mentioned a “one-size-fits-all” approach to returning to work post maternity leave doesn’t exist; everyone’s situation is different and unique. But, my final suggestion for everyone going through this experience is to be patient. Figuring out a new routine and a workable balance between family and professional obligations takes time and it won’t be without its challenges. For me, it has definitely been an eventful few months and I’m still adjusting to my new “normal.” But so far, it’s been a smooth transition.