10 Tips to make going back to work after maternity leave easier

Mum working from home with baby

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You’ll probably wonder where all that time went when it comes to going back to work. It can be a sad, sad occasion for everyone, but it’s something that just has to be done. When the time comes to swap the nursery for the boardroom and nappies for that nine to five, it can all be a little bit daunting. So we’ve put together some tips to help you transition back into the working world when you’ve got a little one to care for.

  1. Do a practice run

Milk pumped? Check. Showered? Check. One last feed? Check. Baby bag packed? Oops!

You’re probably used to your pre-work routine, but maybe not with a baby to get ready too. You don’t want to be late (or just on time but mega stressed) on your first day back, so it always helps to do a practice run of your work morning, which can end up being a military style operation when there’s a baby on board.

Set your alarm for when you think you’ll need to be up, get yourself and baby ready and keep an eye on timings. See if you’ve got everything sorted and arrive at your destination on time, (with a matching pair of shoes on!). You could always plan this routine with a Bluebell baby monitor and get reminders for each activity, which can totally take some of the pressure off!

Mum and baby laughing in bathroom

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  1. Have a casual meeting with your manager

Don’t see this as work or one of your KIT days – simply meet for a coffee or grab some lunch. Find out if there are any big changes at work you need to be aware of, and just how things have been going while you’ve been away. This can help ease you in and reduce anxieties before your first day back. It also shows your commitment to your job and that you’re excited to go back (which may work in your favour if you want to discuss things like flexible hours when you return).

  1. Don’t be a stranger

You’re legally allowed to work for 10 days while on maternity leave. These are called ‘keeping in touch’ or KIT days:

  • These include any type of work that you would normally do.
  • This doesn’t generally include time spent discussing your return to work with your employer.
  • They can be done at any point during your maternity leave, apart from the two weeks straight after birth (four weeks for factory workers).
  • Just a half day or a few hours still counts as a KIT day.
  • You don’t legally have to take these days, but it’s a great way to keep up to date and ease back into work.

It might also be nice for baby to meet your work mates – why not take them in one day? Your colleagues would probably love it! And you don’t need to miss those team events – go to the Christmas party and let your hair down (but go easy on the prosecco after not drinking for nine months!).

Mum taking baby in buggy to visit work colleagues

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  1. Talk to your boss about flexible hours or go back gradually

You may feel a little bit rusty and/or your routine has probably changed quite a bit since before the arrival of your little one. Many companies can be pretty understanding about this (although some, unfortunately, are not). It doesn’t hurt to ask if you can change your hours, even if it’s just for a little while as you get used to work life again.

One option could be starting back for a few days a week until you’ve settled back in. Another option could be completely changing your hours to part time, or flexible hours where you finish earlier or start later. This all depends on your job, home life and routine. Don’t be scared to ask – you’re completely within your rights to and all they can say is yes or no.

  1. Or see if you can work from home

Currently, around 1.5 million people in the UK work remotely – a 74% increase from 10 years ago. Working from home has definitely become more mainstream in the last decade, and if it’s an option for you, you might want to take it up. It’s actually been found to improve productivity, motivation and time spent working (all great arguments you can use to fight your case).

We advise that you set aside a ‘work space’ in the house so that you don’t get to distracted from the job. And you may also want to look into still getting some form of childcare so that you can focus!

New mum working at her desk

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  1. Organise childcare early

Even super mums need a bit of a helping hand sometimes. Some of you might have friends and family who would jump at the chance to look after baby. Others of you may need to look into other forms of childcare such as a nanny, nursery or childminder.

Sometimes it can take a while to get a nursery place or to find the right childminder (there can even be queues) so make sure to get in there early. It might also be an idea to have them start a few weeks before you return to work so that you have time to help them settle in.

If you’re worried about funds, look into tax-free childcare or see if your company has any childcare benefits or an on-site nursery – these can all be a huge help. GOV.UK has loads of info on this.

  1. Remember that this is a stepping stone for baby too

It can be heart breaking leaving them at nursery for the first time, especially if they get upset. This can lead to separation anxiety for both of you, and we get it; we’ve been there, it’s totally normal and something you just have to work through. Separation anxiety is super common in children aged six months to three years and it will take some time for them to realise that you will come back – it’s something they will learn and is actually a positive thing for their growing independence. 

  1. Keep an eye on baby with a baby monitor

Not only will a smart baby monitor from Bluebell help you crack that all-important routine, it will allow you to see what baby’s up to even when you’re not with them. Bluebell tracks things like baby’s breathing, temperature and sleep, and send alerts to a Parent wristband and Mobile app. It also allows you to track each routine activity, like when baby feeds or has a bath. Multiple people can use your family profile on the app, so whoever’s looking after baby can follow your normal routine and log things, and you can keep up to date with this on your app.

This can really help if you’re feeling anxious about missing baby. And it isn’t all that Bluebell can do. Check it out to see the other awesomeness that you can get from this unique baby monitor.

Baby playing with crayons

Photo by Brian Waak on Reshot

  1. Be patient with yourself

Going back to work is a huge transition, and feelings of guilt can come with it. Many mums will want to quit on the first day back after missing their baby, or may even feel bad for enjoying being back at work. But remember that it will take time to get into the swing of things. The majority of people have to work – you’re working to provide for your baby. So don’t feel guilty about being there and having some child-free time. You’re doing it for them.

And give yourself time to ease back into your job. Things are likely to have changed while you’ve been away – from new members of staff, to new equipment or software, to new rules – nobody’s expecting you to be able to slot right back in. Give yourself time to learn, ask questions and get used to being there again.

  1.  Join or create a ‘working mums club’ social circle

Less than 20% of women feel confident returning to work after leave. This is a pretty shocking statistic, but you can at least take comfort in knowing that you’re definitely not alone. It’s a sad reality that women are still discriminated against in the workplace for having children, wanting children, and even just for having ovaries! Organisations such as the Equality and Human Rights Commission are pushing for less discrimination, but why not get some support a bit closer to home?

If you work with lots of other people, chances are some of your co-workers are working mums too! Try organising a monthly meeting with these mums and dads – casual coffee and cake works well – just to sit down and talk through experiences, worries and wins. These relationships can help to show you that you’re not alone, and that there’s someone on your side if you ever feel discriminated against.

If you don’t work with any new parents, or don’t have the confidence or time to organise something like this, there are plenty of places you can go to online. Try Net Mums, The Working Mum Association or try somewhere location specific that may have events where you can pop in, such as the West London Working Mums Social Club.

New mums enjoying coffee

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We’re not going to lie and say this will be easy. In fact, it may be one of the most difficult things you ever have to do! But if you can handle growing an entire human inside of you (or going through the adoption/surrogacy process), you can totally handle this! Just remember to plan ahead, take it slowly and ask for help when you need it. Repeat after us: ‘I am resilient, I am strong, I am a mother and nobody can stop me.’ Now go get ‘em!

Let us know if you’ve got any great tips for returning to work that you can share with new mums and mums-to-be!