Returning to work after maternity leave can be a challenging and emotional experience for working mums. However, with the right mindset and preparation, you can make the transition smoother.

As a fellow mum, I recently made my own return to work (to a hybrid office arrangement) after 6.5 months of maternity leave. Now, my husband Andy has taken over for the rest of the year on shared parental leave. I understand the mixed emotions and concerns that come with this transition. Rest assured, feeling this way is perfectly normal! So, let’s dive into some practical tips and advice to help you ease into your first day back at the office.

1. Organise Your Breastfeeding Supplies (If You Are Still Breastfeeding):

  • Ensure you have an ample supply of bottles for expressing milk at work and for the following day.
  • Keep sterilised bags for emergency milk storage in the office.
  • Consider having a backup manual breast pump in case of any unforeseen issues with your electric pump. I learned this the hard way with Willow when my pump broke and I was engorged until I got home.

2. Prepare Your Work Essentials:

  • Pack your work bag the night before with essentials such as your laptop, work mobile (if applicable), notebook/diary, and work pass.
  • Use a dedicated work bag to keep everything in one place and minimise stress.

3. Plan Your Food and Drink:

  • Prepare healthy snacks and a packed lunch to avoid the temptation of buying unhealthy food.
  • Consider bringing a flask for your morning coffee and a water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the day. This saves money and is good for the planet too.

4. Lay Out Your Clothes in Advance:

  • Choose your outfit the night before to save time and avoid last-minute stress. This little tip can save you 10 minutes of stress in the morning if you have to end up sifting through a mountain of laundry to find your outfit.
  • Getting dressed for the day, even when working from home, can help set a positive and productive mindset. This is my number one win to set me up for the day. How many times have you been the last one dressed during the busy morning hustle? Getting this tip right has been the biggest game changer for my mindset. 

5. Utilise Your Commute Time:

  • Make the most of your commute by listening to audiobooks or engaging in activities that help you transition between work and home life.

6. Don’t Forget Essential Medication:

  • Pack any necessary medication, such as painkillers or asthma medication, in your bag for emergencies.

7. Be Kind to Yourself and Adjust Your Mindset:

  • Understand that the first day back may feel challenging and emotionally overwhelming. And that’s okay – don’t beat yourself up about not being the perfect mum or employee.
  • Give yourself time and space to adapt to the new routine and being away from your baby.
  • Embrace the opportunity to have lunch on your own and enjoy some peace and quiet without a 7 month old drooling over you and demanding a piece of cucumber. 

8. Connect with Your Colleagues:

  • Reach out to familiar and new colleagues to feel connected to your work community.
  • Grab a coffee or go out for lunch with someone you know on your first day or during the first week back.

9. Plan a Fun Vacation Day:

  • Coordinate with your boss to take a day off 1-2 weeks after returning to work.
  • Use this time to do something that brings you joy and helps maintain a sense of individuality. I recently took a baking class and that made me so happy.

Returning to work after maternity leave is a significant transition, but with proper preparation and a positive mindset, you can navigate this season of life successfully. Prioritise self-care, stay organised, and allow yourself to adjust without judgment. Remember, you’ve got this!

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