When you’re expecting you look forward to the day your new bundle of joy arrives. The last thought on your mind is getting back to work again at the end of your maternity leave. It may be something you want to consider, however.
How do you prepare for returning to work after maternity leave? Here are some things you may want to think about:
1. Before your baby arrives, begin to research your company’s policies about maternity leave. Find out how long they allow you and whether there is a difference between that and how much time the Family Maternity Leave Act allows. If you’ve been paying for long-term disability insurance, maternity leave may be covered so you receive at least a partial paycheck while you’re at home. Talk with your human resources department to find out what you qualify for.
2. Keep communications open with your employer and your immediate boss. Let them know what your plans are, if you would like to use part of your vacation or sick leave for additional time, and when you plan to return. If your plans change for any reason, be sure to let your employer know as soon as possible.
3. If you’ve recently had your baby, start thinking about child care before you’re ready to return to work. Of course, you want to place your child with people you trust, so start by asking family or friends if they would be willing to provide child care. If that’s not possible, take your time finding the right day care. Nothing is as important as your child, so don’t forget to ask for and check references. Visit each potential day care a minimum of two times before deciding.
4. Talk with your boss about how you intend to handle those occasions where your child is ill and you have to stay at home to care for them. Discuss the possibly of being able to do some of your work from home during those days.
5. Begin to prepare yourself for actually leaving your child for eight or more hours a day. Ask your spouse, other family, or friends to care for your child while you go out for a little while. This will make being separated from your baby easier when you return to work, but realize that leaving your child is never truly easy.
6. Consider asking your boss if you can reduce your hours to working part time for a while after you return to work. This will give you more time to adjust to being away from your child and could actually increase your productivity since you’ll be a happier employee.
7. Don’t start back to work on a Monday. Plan to start back to work toward the end of the week so you’re not back to the grind too quickly. It may be too difficult to be away from your baby for five straight days. If you know you only have a day or so to be separated, it might make things easier for you.
Getting back to work again after maternity leave is going to be an emotional time for you. Planning ahead of time may make the transition easier, but you will still have an emotional tug of war going on within yourself. Don’t belittle yourself if you cry when you leave your little one – it’s perfectly normal and to expected.