This blog is a collaboration between Laura Duggal and Sarah Turner, who are both Maternity Return coaches. They are working together, sharing their experiences and bringing the best of their joint advice and knowledge to you.
When we’re working with clients, the point when they’re preparing to return to work is often when we have the most contact because this is the point in time when there’s the most going on.
When you have a new baby your life with start to take a new shape, even if it’s not your first child. Your family will have changed when you start preparing your return to work and there may be a lot to consider.
In typical coaching conversations at this stage we support our clients to return to work in a way that is manageable and at a pace that suits them. We’re all different, there’s no right or wrong. Some of the things that come up are phased returns, trial runs and managing expectations. You can find out about these in more detail below:
1. Phased returns
Some employers may be open to offering a way for you to gradually return to the office. If it’s not something they mention, why not put together your own ideal plan for your return. By phased return, we mean a period of time when you start to work fewer hours or days than normal, working up to your normal working pattern.
Sometimes you’re able to use accrued annual leave to support this, and you might also like to hold back some of your KIT days for this. Be creative with your approach and consider what will really work for you. Would you like to start with just one day in the office? Or would a day or two working from home be possible? Speak to your line manager and agree between you expectations you will have of each other, time periods you’re working to etc. It’s also a good idea to diarise a couple of check ins so you can review if it’s working.
One of the benefits of a phased return is that it can provide you with a stepped approach to see how your life as a parent and your life at work might look in the long term and give you an insight into the balancing act that will soon become the day to day normal.
2. Trial Runs
Your commute to work might look quite different now as you consider getting your child to childcare as well. Use a trial run to work through the logistics, ideally when you don’t have to be somewhere at a specific time, just in case you encounter any bumps in the road. If you have a partner, include them in the process and work out who will be responsible for what and when. Share the load so it’s not always down to you to get everything done in the mornings.
If you haven’t been apart from your child yet, part of the trial run might also be their settling in period at nursery. It’s a great idea for you both to have some space to deal with these big emotions before you head back to a work environment.
After the trial run, think about what could have gone better and brain storm any ideas so that it’s one less thing to think about on your first day back at work.
3. Managing Expectations
The demands of family life and the demands of work are often very different, and coupled together can seem quite overwhelming. I remember before I went on Maternity leave wondering how I was going to fill all of my time ‘off’, then before my return to work, I had no idea how I could possibly fit everything in!
You may be really looking forward to getting back to work, or you might be finding the idea quite daunting. However you’re feeling about it, it’s quite normal to have some concerns about what’s going to be involved. It can take time to bring these two different parts of your identity together, and it’s quite usual for this period to feel a bit clunky to begin with.
Many of the women we support are high achievers in their careers before they have children, and many of them go on to continue on this trajectory after children too. However, this is the point in time to go easy on yourself if you can. Review your priorities and values, some things might have shifted which mean the attention you can give your career right now, is not the same as it was before you were a mother. This is not static and it can take some time to settle into your new normal. It won’t be like this forever.
Of course, every person we work with and support is completely unique and you may find your experience is different to what we have described above. We’re sharing the themes that we come across more often than not in our work, but that’s not to say it’s the only way to approach your return to work.
If you enjoyed reading this blog and found it useful, you might also like to watch a video we recorded on this topic, you can find it here: https://www.lauraduggalcoaching.com/post/preparing-to-return-to-work-after-maternity-leave
If there’s a topic you’d like to see us cover in the future, you can send me an e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’d like more information about how we can support you with return to work coaching, we’ll include links to both our websites in the description below.
Laura is an EMCC qualified and accredited coach with a background in HR and Recruitment. She has 15 years experience of coaching individuals around their professional and personal development. Her own experience of returning to work after having her daughter highlighted that there was a need for more robust support through this transition which lead her to specialise in maternity return coaching. Clients share that they find her to be warm and down to earth, giving them a renewed sense of self belief, motivation and tools to cope in a fast paced and often challenging world. Her coaching approach is grounded in Positive Psychology focussing on mental health and well-being. She see’s her role as providing a safe and calm space for those facing uncertainty and making big changes in their lives.
Sarah is an Executive and Maternity coach with a background in HR, Diversity and Inclusion and Occupational Psychology. A mum herself, Sarah has experienced maternity leave and she has coached numerous women and working parents as they navigate their own journey into parenthood. She brings compassion and empathy to her maternity coaching, priding herself on offering a supportive but empowering space where her clients feel heard and able to find their own way through this stage of their lives.