Article provided by Hannah Nash
Returning to work after maternity leave is a daunting time for most women.
It will be one of the longest periods that you will have spent away from the work environment and during this time, you gained a whole new job and developed a whole new set of skills when becoming a mum.
The first thing to address when returning from maternity leave is the guilt that can come with this. It is completely normal feel to guilt when returning to work. You can feel guilty about a huge number of things e.g. the first time you leave your baby with someone else, guilty about the things you’re going to miss, guilt about being excited to go back to work or the guilt that can come with juggling being a mother and returning to work.
I think the other thing to address is prolonged period away from the office. It can make you feel out of the loop and leave you feeling less confident about the job that you left, and did well in.
I think it is safe to say that returning to work after maternity leave can be one of those times in your life where things are both positive and negative in equal measure.
What I have learnt from returning to work after two periods of maternity leave is to be kind to myself, it’s ok not to be ok and ‘baby brain’ is a real thing.
Be kind to yourself
Take time to settle back into work. Things will not be the same as when you left and just because things have carried on, it does not mean you were not missed. The key to being kind to yourself every time you have a negative thought about yourself, is your ability is to challenge this thought. Also think would you be this tough on someone if it weren’t you? I used a reflection log to review my weeks. I did this at the beginning of the week to reflect on the previous week. I would review what went well, what new things I had learnt, and what I wanted to learn in the coming week.
It helped me to have a more balanced and helpful mindset.
It is ok not to be ok
Whatever you are feeling is ok – worry, fear, happiness, tiredness, guilt, anxiety … These are all normal and we should not sensor are emotions. Not to mention having a baby raises a whole new set of emotions. Ask questions, talk to colleagues, talk to friends and family. And most importantly remember to be kind to yourself.
I remember my first week back in the office after having my first child, I could not remember the access to the building, my passwords, names of clients and name of colleagues who worked with me! Not to mention new people in the team! I think the mixture of tiredness, time and hormones leads to ‘baby brain’. My advice is to accept how you feel and most importantly be kind to yourself.
Are you looking to return to work after a career break? Searching for advice and tips? WeAreTheCity has a whole dedicated section to returnships and returning to work. You can find open returnship opportunities, advice for experts about returning to work and tips on flexible working.