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Returning to work after maternity leave is a significant milestone, marked by a mix of emotions. The first day back can be particularly daunting, but with some preparation and a positive mindset, it can also be a smooth transition. Here’s a guide to help you navigate your first day back to work, ensuring it’s as stress-free and productive as possible.

1. Preparation is Key

Before your first day, take some time to prepare both at home and at work. Here are some tips:

  • 👩‍👦Organise Childcare: Ensure your childcare arrangements are secure. Knowing your child is with someone you trust gives you one less thing to worry about on the day – this could be a nursery, a childminder, or a relative.
  • 👗 Revisit Your Wardrobe: Pick out a professional outfit that you feel comfortable. Feeling comfortable is the easiest way to help boost your confidence.

2. Set Realistic Expectations

Understand that it may take a little time to get back into the swing of things. Don’t pressure yourself to be at 100% productivity immediately. Instead, focus on gradually reacclimating to your work environment and responsibilities.

3. Communicate with Your Employer

Open communication with your employer is crucial. Discuss your return plan and any flexible working arrangements you might need. This could include:

  • Flexible Hours: Adjusting your start or finish times to better align with your childcare needs.
  • 💻 Remote Working: If applicable, working from home part of the week.
  • 🤝 Keeping in Touch (KIT) Days: Utilise your KIT days. These days allow you to work up to 10 days during your maternity leave without affecting your statutory maternity pay. They are an excellent way to stay connected with your workplace, catch up on changes, and ease the transition back to full-time work.

4. Reconnect with Colleagues

Take the time to message and catch up with your colleagues. This not only helps rebuild your professional network but also provides emotional support. Share your experiences and listen to theirs, making the transition feel more like a team effort. They may also have useful insights on big changes that have occurred whilst you were away.

5. Utilise Support Systems

Leverage any support systems available to you, whether it’s HR, employee assistance programs, or mentorship from colleagues who have been through a similar experience. These resources can provide guidance and reassurance as you navigate this transition.

6. Set Boundaries

Creating clear boundaries between work and home life is essential to maintaining balance and reducing stress. Here’s how:

  • Designate Work Hours: Set specific times for when you start and end work, ensuring you have dedicated family time.
  • 🖥 Create a Workspace: If possible, have a designated area at home where you can work without interruptions.
  • 💭 Communicate Availability: Let your colleagues know your working hours and the best ways to reach you. This helps manage expectations and keeps work within the boundaries you set.

7. Self-Care is Non-Negotiable

Returning to work is a big adjustment, and it’s important to take care of yourself. Ensure you’re getting enough rest, eating well, and setting aside time for activities that help you relax and recharge.

8. Seek Professional Development

Consider upskilling opportunities to boost your confidence and update any skills that may feel rusty after your break. Platforms like ivee offer personalised upskilling and a supportive community for women returning to work, ensuring you don’t have to settle for less.

Your first day back to work after maternity leave is a significant step, but with preparation and support, it can be a successful one. Embrace this new chapter with confidence and know that it’s okay to seek help and take things one day at a time.

At ivee, we’re dedicated to making transitions as smooth and empowering as possible, offering tailored solutions to help women re-enter the workforce without compromising their career aspirations or salary expectations. Let’s make returning to work work for you.

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