Why preparing for your return from maternity leave starts before you go

Article by Jessica Chivers, The Talent Keeper Specialists

Image via Shutterstock

“My brain feels foggy and I’m knackered.”

That’s not a sleep-deprived new mama, that’s a middle-aged man with secondary school children on how he felt in January after two weeks away from work at Christmas.

“I’m really seeing how hard it must be to come back from maternity leave after a year,” he went onto say when we chatted about the colleague we’d soon both be supporting back from maternity leave.

Film a treat for future you

Coming back is a challenging time and there’s something you can do today, to make life easier for future you. You can whip out your smartphone, open your camera app and record yourself answering these four questions:

  1. What have I been working on over the last 6-12 months?
  2. What have been my significant ‘high points’ or most significant achievements in that time?
  3. What positive feedback have I received in that time?
  4. What am I looking forward to about returning to work?
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This is a little insurance policy against an unjustified drop in confidence and an unhealthy amount of self-doubt when you return to work. Question three is the one that you really want to go to town on. That’s because there’s nothing like replaying the good stuff that OTHER PEOPLE have said about you to straighten your spine and put a smile on your face.

Do a performance review before you go

Even people who receive outstanding performance reviews are prone to dips in confidence after many months away doing something quite unconnected to their day job.

Now on that note about performance reviews, you definitely want to do one of those before you go on leave. There are five good reasons for that:

  1. Insurance against a new line manager coming in whilst you’re out.
  2. Collateral for job applications.
  3. Psychological full stop for you before going on leave.
  4. Esteem booster for you as you prepare to come back.
  5. Evidence for a legal challenge (heaven forbid).

About the author

Jessica Chivers Jessica is a coaching psychologist, author, host of Comeback Coach (podcast) and founder of The Talent Keeper Specialists. Aged about nine she asked her mum whether “woman” was a contraction of “womb” and “man” and why women couldn’t have a name of their own. Her mother delighted in her thinking but didn’t have an answer.

Growing up watching LA Law, Dynasty and hard-hitting documentaries (under the guidance of her liberal, teacher mother) she decided age 11 that she would become a lawyer and free women on death row in the U.S. for killing their abusive partners.

She went on to read psychology and started her career in the City in learning and development before working with The Mind Gym and pursuing a career as a coaching psychologist. Her first book Mothers Work! How to Get a Grip on Guilt and Make a Smooth Return to Work has been dubbed “THE book employers should giving all their women returners” by Professor Karen Pine.

Find her on Instagram @comebackcommuk and twitter @jesschivers.

COMEBACK CONVERSATION- Preparing for parenthood

FREE Preparing for Leave & Parenthood Q&A 22/3/22

Would you like more tips like this?

Our next FREE Comeback Conversation* is on preparing for parental leave and parenthood with me and antenatal teacher and founder of Our Baby Club, Victoria Warnes. Whatever you want to know about future-proofing your career, getting your mind and body ready for birth or coping with worries about what’s to come, we’re here to give you solid, helpful ideas. It’s for expectant fathers as well as mothers. I hope you’ll join us.

*Comeback Conversations are part of our Comeback Community™ employee experience, which is designed to keep people feeling confident, connected and cared for before, during and after their leave. In 2022 we’re opening certain sessions up to a wider audience, absolutely free. Discover more about what employees in organisations such as GAM, FDM Group and Lily’s Kitchen experience when they take maternity, adoption, shared parental and sick leave in this 2 minute film.

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