Back to work – returning to work after maternity leave

macbook pro on desk
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Returning to work after taking time out for Maternity leave can be a daunting process, especially if you’re a first time mum and haven’t yet had to establish that working mum routine.

It’s important to remember that you have every right to go back to the exact same job you were doing prior to taking Maternity leave, but depending on your job you might need to make a few changes to fit in with family life. Before committing to anything with your employer, it’s important to consider a few things:

Working hours. Do you want to work full or part time? If you’re planning on going back part time for now, then it’s a good idea to work out how much you’ll be earning to make sure the cost of living is still affordable. If you’re going to be doing less hours than before then this  salary calculator  is useful to work out your pro-rata figure.

Childcare. When it comes to childcare there are lots of factors involved and planning exactly what you are going to do with your baby whilst you’re at work will help you establish any adjustments you might need to make to your working day to accommodate things like drop off and pick up. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • who will look after my baby?
  • what hours are they available?
  • will these hours fit in with my work hours?
  • how much will it cost and can I afford it?
  • will the Government or my employer help cover my costs?*

*You may be entitled to help from the government for your childcare fees in the form of Child Tax Credit. You can read more about that here.

Travel. Some mums are able to jump in their car and be at work within a few minutes. Others will need to commute. Whilst commuting wasn’t a problem pre baby, you might feel differently post baby and want to discuss other options with your employer. Perhaps you can work from home or transfer to an office closer by.

The combined cost of travel and childcare. This cost played a huge part in my negotiations when it came to returning to work – being a working mum can be an expensive business! I used Trainline’s Season Ticket Calculator to help me work out the cost of travel (including London’s transport tickets) and added it to my would be childcare expenses. It’s important to work out whether paying out a significant amount of money from your salary each month on childcare and travel is still going to be beneficial for you.

Flexible working options. Any employee -parent, carer or not – has the right to request flexible working to fit around home life or other commitments outside of work. However, unfortunately not all requests can be granted due to reasonable needs of the business. Flexible working has made it possible for me to return to work in a way that suits both myself and my employer. You can find out more about flexible working from the government website here.

The above are just a few things that will help you make informed choices when it comes to returning to work. Now all you need to do is actually go back! In order to make your transition as smooth as possible, here’s a few tips for your return:

  • Be clear of your rights as an employee upon returning to work. I found a good article on The Money Advice Service about this.
  • Ask for a phased return to work whilst you establish your new home/work routine. The first few weeks are going to be challenging and there will be hiccups along the way, so the more support you can get from work the better.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for training. 9 months to a year is a long time to take off work, so there may have been a few changes in procedure or a new policy put in place. Don’t worry though – once you get into the swing of things again it’ll be like you were never away!
  • Organise regular catch ups with your boss. This is important so you can agree on short term objectives and let them know if you’re having any problems settling back in. Being honest and open is important – remember that whilst your priorities might be different now your bosses are still business focused so you need to ensure a balance exists.
  • Make your availability to work clear. Pre baby, staying behind after normal working hours to get a job finished is something we’ve all done. Post baby, this might not be possible and it’s likely you’ll have a particular time you need to leave by. Don’t feel guilty about leaving on time. Say no and go!
  • After a few months back at work take some time to review your life and career goals. When you become a mum your focus might shift a little so make sure you’re doing what’s right for you and that you’re happy with your newly established working mum routine.

Note: I paid particular attention to the use of language I used in this article and tried to avoid using the word ‘can’t.’  We’ve all been guilty of saying  things like ‘I can’t do this because of the baby,’ when the truth is we can. Becoming a mum has given me a whole new purpose in life and I want to give my son the best possible opportunities in his life. So instead of saying ‘I can’t’ it’s all about ‘I CAN!’

Good luck on your return to work, the sky’s the limit!

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5 ways to avoid feeling lonely on maternity leave

looking for a friend bear
Photo by Marina Shatskih on Pexels.com

I recently wrote a post for Super Mum Society about self-care and rather than writing about self-indulgent jaunts to get my nails done or a night out with friends, the theme of my post was based more on what I do to combat the cabin fever that comes with being at home on Maternity leave. I also realised that as a new mum in a new area with no friends or family nearby, I often feel very alone.

I gave birth to my son in February this year but I actually started my Maternity leave in December so it’s almost a year since I last did things like negotiating the Tube at rush hour, conversing with a client, after work drinks or shopping with a friend. Despite climbing the walls between December and February and desperately wanting to get back to doing all of the above, as soon as the baby arrived my mind set changed and I was suddenly living in a whirlwind ruled by a tiny human. I was way too busy to think about how I used to keep myself busy.

My son is now 9 months old and I’m currently living on borrowed time (also known as extended Maternity leave). I’ve loved spending my days with him and I don’t think I’ve really missed my ‘old’ life at all. This is probably because my ‘old’ life wasn’t a calendar jam packed to the rafters with social event after social event. I’ve always been a homebody who prefers a Friday night in with Netflix and a cup of tea (literally Netflix and chill) over a night out at a trendy bar in London.  I’m not exactly a social butterfly and can count the number of friends I have on one hand, so you’re probably wondering how I can feel lonely when I seemingly like it that way. For me, it comes down to what I want to do for my son and finding the confidence to do it.  You see, I know that I owe it to him to make each day interesting and fun,  but sometimes the thought of going out and meeting new people terrifies me. So I hold myself back. All. Of. The. Time.

And this is how I feel lonely.

It’s quite ironic to find that I’m not alone when it comes to feeling alone. In fact, it’s a huge problem for mums everywhere. Suddenly stepping away from your ‘old’ life can have a profound effect and as feelings of isolation start to creep in, you wonder if you will ever get used to this ‘new’ life thrust upon you. It can be really tough and honestly, I have found it really tough. Recently, I made a promise to myself (and my son) to try and rid myself of these feelings of isolation and loneliness, and take steps towards finding a new lease of life.

Here’s a few simple things you can do – which I have done – to help you find your new lease of life whilst on Maternity leave.

  1. Join a Mum & Baby club in your area. There may also be stay and play options at your local Health Centre or Nursery, and sessions held in your local Library.
  2. Download an app. A mums meet up app like Mush connects you with other mums in your area looking to make friends.
  3. Plan your weekends in advance. Look at things to do in your area with kids and enjoy a family day out. You might have to wait all week to do it, but it gives you something to look forward to and a break from the week day norm.
  4. Invite family and friends over. Don’t wait for them to contact you because they might assume you’re busy with the baby and not pick up the phone. Whilst they have cuddles, you can have a break!
  5. Go on a road trip. Chuck the baby in the car seat and the world is your oyster!* With a cute baby being a huge conversation ice breaker, you might even meet some new people!

*Don’t literally chuck the baby, that would be bad.

A new life in Northants

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Stanwick Lakes, Northamptonshire

Welcome to A Kettering Mum! Written by me, a first time mum who has recently swapped London for Northamptonshire.

I moved to London in 2005, soon after graduating from University. I met and married my husband there, and in February this year I gave birth to our son there. After 13 years of City living we decided it was time to opt out of the rat race and raise our son in the country. We began looking for a house in March (main criteria: a garden!) and after lots of viewings we finally moved to Kettering this summer.

Whilst I’m no stranger to country living –  I was born and raised in the Cotswolds and also lived on the Welsh coast for 3 years – I am a complete stranger to Northamptonshire.

Through A Kettering Mum, I’ve made it my mission to get to know my new home and share my life as a new mum in Northants.

Happy reading!

Please follow me Instagram – @aketteringmum