For office workers the long winter holiday is a real break but returning to work in January can be hard. What’s my password? What’s my job? Why do I do this?

If you don’t have a good answer for that last one a career MOT may be in order. What with the weather, resolutions, Veganuary and the long dark days January is a difficult month. Back to the office seems a real chore especially those with small children at home. Leaving your infant with a childminder or day-care while you struggle with the commute is hard at the best of time.

Returning after maternity leave

It’s a difficult transition; a new mother may be overwhelmed or wracked with guilt at leaving her child behind.

There are a lot of emotions involved but try to ease back into work. Ask your employer for a back to work plan, perhaps with a phased return, allowing time to adjust to the change in your role from full-time parent to employee.

You may be able to request flexible working, or work from home, alternative hours or shift patterns or workdays. Your employer doesn’t necessarily have to agree, but should discuss your requirements and respond in writing within three months with their decision.

Be kind to yourself

A survey found that it takes new mums nearly six months to readjust after going back to work- with nearly a quarter saying the workplace is “completely different”.

Of 1,000 mothers surveyed, 31% found it harder than they expected to return to their job after an average of 10 months’ maternity leave. Whether it’s down to new members of staff, different processes put in place or just a consequence of not being there for a while, almost a quarter found the working environment was nothing like the one they left behind before giving birth.

A new parent has priorities which are new and different so trying to juggle childcare and parental responsibilities with a job, can be isolating and confusing – particularly if your boss and colleagues don’t have children of their own.

Be prepared

There’s a proven link between paid parental leave and a lower likelihood of postpartum depression, lower psychological distress, and better mood among mothers. Paid maternity leave is also linked with a higher quality of mother-child interactions and beneficial impact on infant attachment. It’s no wonder paid parental leave is so widespread in Western Europe.

10Eighty’s top tips for returning to work after maternity leave:

  • Find good childcare and establish a healthy relationship with your caregiver
  • Have a plan b, plan c etc for childcare
  • Make your mornings as easy as possible – routine and consistency are key
  • Maintain a network of strong contacts – staying connected with your peers, colleagues and career contacts will make a big difference, try to find the time to do this
Michael Moran

Michael is CEO and Founder of 10Eighty. He is passionate about helping people maximise their potential and believes everyone should have job satisfaction and a successful career. He helps organisations design jobs and career paths that maximise employee engagement. As an avid reader/commentator on the world of work and sport, he regularly draws parallels between the two. You could describe Michael as a budding author with “The Guide to Everlasting Employability” already under his belt, and technophile who’s created 2 career management apps to help people manage their careers.

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