I think all Parents returning to work have the same thoughts – Will I remember my client’s names? How will I get up to speed on new systems and technology? Which new team members have we hired? How much will have changed? and, will my campaigns be old news?
Luckily when I returned from maternity leave last week I’d taken a number of steps to ensure that I was as prepared as possible to undertake the huge transition from ‘full time Mummy’ to ‘MummyandLead Recruitment Business Partner’.
I certainly don’t have all the answers but I have spoken to numerous parents; copying their techniques and taking the time to work out how to balance my own family life with a demanding corporate role - here are just a few things that worked for me:
1.Keeping in touch through maternity leave
Before departing to have my baby, my Manager – a mum herself, spoke to me about my preferences for contact during my leave. We discussed monthly updates and a text message about any internal roles that may come up. She was clear that once I had my baby she would wait for me to get in touch and then set the frequency of our catch ups. For me, this worked well – a short monthly call meant I felt connected to the important information and big changes within our department. Another personal preference was to use keeping in touch (KIT) days. I used a few of my allocation to join team meetings and strategic planning meetings. This allowed me to feel like I had been part of my team’s overall vision.
2. Settling in period
After taking on the mammoth task of securing childcare that I could trust with my most precious possession, my childminder encouraged us to begin with a settling in period ahead of my return date. We gradually built up baby’s time in childcare from 1 hour to a full day. Not only did this allow baby time to adjust but it gave me time to adjust to not having a baby strapped to my hip 24/7! I was able to have some independence back before tackling the London commute on my own!
3. Expect to be tired
I knew returning to work would mean engaging my brain again and was prepared for this to take some time. Rather than feel like I was the only person going through this, I was able to look at other colleagues and friends who had taken the time to be kind to themselves.
4. Make time for well-being
When I’m really busy and juggling multiple tasks one of the easiest things to forget about is myself. During my time with Aon we have had the opportunity to take part in lots of well-being activities, both mental and physical. On returning to work I have made time to go for a walk each lunch break and I also use the app Simple Habit whenever I get a chance.
5. Create a great support system
With all the planning in the world, something will likely go wrong at some point. For those times when baby has a temperature or the British train system lets you down its helpful to have someone – a grandparent, a friend or a partner who can assist when an emergency arises so you’re set up ahead of time. By taking the time to discuss these eventualities with my Partner I feel confident in handling a number of scenarios which may have made me anxious previously.
Normalising the transition period has been an important piece of preparation for me. I know that I’m not the first Mummy to have been worried about returning to work and unfortunately I won’t be the last, but most parents have been through this process and lead super happy family lives whilst delivering high profile jobs in demanding circumstances.
Mums and Dads, how have you found the transition back to work after taking parental leave?
Recruitment Manager at Aon
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