Here’s what you need to know about coming back to work after parental leave
11 March 2021 at 4:57 pm
We share tips to help you slide back into work as a new parent
Re-entering the workforce after some time off to look after your new baby might feel wildly overwhelming.
Your life, and your priorities, have completely changed in the time you’ve been away, and slotting back into an old work routine will feel really weird for a time.
But, like everything, there are ways to manage this transition. Toula Lambros, Beaumont People’s general manager of NFP recruitment, not only helps clients with this transition all the time, but has done it herself three times. We asked her for some tips.
Stay in touch
It might be hard to think of anything except changing nappies, feeding schedules and getting even an hour of sleep, but staying in touch with your employer will mean that when you do head back to the office, you’ll be on the same page.
“Keep those communication channels open around when you plan on returning to work and whether you’d be wanting to explore the opportunity to return part time or in a job share,” Lambros said.
Iron out the details
Organising daycare drop-offs and pickups while you’re also getting your head around being back at work is an extra stress you don’t need. So Lambros recommends penciling in a time to figure out a schedule and clear it with your boss before heading back to work.
“It’s really important to sort out your daycare, childcare, or nanny arrangements ahead of time, so that you can trial a bit of a routine to feel a little more comfortable,” she said.
Take the time to understand how you and your work have changed
Whether you’ve taken three months or 18 months off, Lambros said it’s important in those first couple of weeks back to get yourself up to speed on policy, systems, and staff changes that have happened in your absence. As well as this, communicate to other staff and stakeholders what your availability is.
“You wouldn’t want to be missing out on meetings or important events because you don’t work a particular day for instance, or if you need to arrive a little bit late or depart slightly early because of child care pick up or drop off,” she said.
Get your physical and mental rest
Getting a full-night’s sleep is probably not going to happen in those early days as a parent, but Lambros said that it’s critical to try and not push yourself too hard, and to know when to take a physical and mental break.
“Children are very unpredictable, but it’s important to plan rest periods like catching up on sleep over the weekend or trying to go to bed a little earlier, because lack of sleep does cause stress and anxiety when you’re getting used to being back at work,” she said.
“And from a mental health perspective, [consider] reaching out for support via an employee assistance program, or even asking your direct manager or colleagues for support. Don’t just be hard on yourself, because this transition does need some adjustment and some tweaking.”