New Mothers: How To Rule Your Return To Work

For a new mom, going back to your standard 9 to 5 can be daunting. On top of caring for a newborn, working mothers have to reestablish credibility, negotiate hours and adjust existing work demands. These challenges can have moms questioning their ability to cut it in the professional world.

According to Hanneke Antonelli, a Certified Life Coach specializing in maternity coaching, this loss of confidence is quite common.

“Most mothers I’ve worked with lack the confidence they used to have before having a baby. It all makes perfect sense, given that within a relatively short period of time women will go through an array of physical and emotional transitions. As we all know this doesn’t stop after the baby is born, it continues even after a new mom returns to work,” she said.

One way to overcome this hurdle is to create a structured plan for how you want to transition back into the office. Here are four ways to make your return to work a success.

Decide On Your Non-Negotiable’s

Before returning to work, it is useful to think about how you want to return. Do you want to go back full-time, or do you slowly want to ramp up your hours? Do you want to mix time in the office with working from home?

Planning how you want to return to work involves thinking about what your non-negotiable’s are and clearly outlining what you are asking your employer for.

This means thinking about what you need to make your return to work a success and the best time to do this is three to four weeks before you are due back into the office.

While not every employer will accommodate every request, having a clear sense of what you need is the starting point in your negotiation.

Keep In Touch

Returning to work is not just about starting to work again. It also includes re-building your network, confidence and understanding of the organization.

One key way to achieve this is to ask your employer if they are willing to provide “Keeping in Touch” days, which include five days, generally paid, that you can use to come into the office.

These days provide an opportunity for you to clear emails, attend meetings, engage with colleagues and transition back into doing actual work.

Having the option to come into the office to touch base during your leave will keep you engaged and more importantly rebuild your confidence about returning to work.

Seek Career Support

New moms have a whole new list of responsibilities that can be totally overwhelming and manifest in feeling a loss of control and confidence, says Antonelli.

Organizations that are truly committed to advancing women also offer maternity coaching.

“Before, during and after maternity leave they will make crucial decisions regarding their professional and personal life. Maternity coaching helps employees deal with and navigate these major transitions” Antonelli said.

A study conducted by Ernst and Young in 2011, found that by implementing maternity coaching as part of their employee benefits they managed to increase women returning to work from 5 to 95 percent.

The key to coming back from maternity leave is to ensure you have meaningful work. Maternity coaching can help you decide what work means to you and how to discuss this with your employer.

Be Prepared To Negotiate

Returning to work is a juggling act. Even with support at home managing childcare arrangements, doctors’ appointments, and household chores on top of a work schedule is a challenge.

Flexible work schedules underpin returning to work successfully. Most employers understand the importance of flexible work schedules but creating a mutually beneficial arrangement often involves a game of trial and error.

Remaining flexible about your work schedule and being willing to negotiate is crucial to making it work. This involves regularly reviewing your schedule with your employer, adjusting it as needed and keeping the dialogue open.

Taking active steps to manage your return to work will help you to build your confidence and support you with your most important role, being a mum.