How to Transition Back to Work After Maternity Leave

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Whether you are a first time Mum or a seasoned pro at pregnancy, returning to work after having a baby is certainly a milestone.

You’ve taken the time to hire a new Executive Assistant to hold the fort and have swapped diary management for nappy changing and board meeting prep for night feeds. You have spent the past 6-12 months bonding as best you can with your new addition, socialising with other new Mum’s at baby groups, playdates and coffee mornings and are loving life away from the office.

However, what happens when the time comes to make a decision about going back to work and how exactly do you transition back into your role successfully? With a reported 43% of new Mums leaving their jobs after having a baby due to reasons that include issues with workplace flexibility, job role uncertainty and the feeling of guilt and overwhelm, we wanted to get a Mum’s approach to balancing baby life with work life.

Georgina Dean, Executive Assistant to Vice President of UK&I at Sage and Mum of two, says that she was very aware that the life changing journey she went on as she entered parenthood, was her responsibility to make work, no matter what.

‘It was my choice to have a baby. Not my parent’s as oh-so-often-relied-upon childcare providers, not the state’s as a potential salary top-up and certainly not my employer’s as work/life balance custodians. It was my decision to start and therefore it was my responsibility to make it work.’

She describes herself as someone who has always been headstrong and decisive, who knew what she wanted and upon starting a family became the key decision maker on family matters.

‘Of course my lovely husband had some involvement in it all but let’s face it, men can be pretty useless when it comes to making actual decisions. To make it work, I had to do what I did best as an EA and get organised!’

From grocery shopping online, getting a cleaner and saying “no” to unnecessary trips out at the weekend, Georgina says that as a new Mum, you have to become more selfish than your former self to stop you from losing your mind.

‘Having kids means making compromises, lots of them. For example, you must take a lunch break at work but spend that time doing your grocery shop online, running errands or going to the gym instead of gossiping to Chantelle about what you heard Bill say to Jim in the canteen. Gone are the days of £10 Pret lunches and a flick through “Hello” in the park on a sunny day. I spent many-a-lunchtime sat at my desk with my reheated chilli con-carne from the night before, steaming in my face whilst I’m hitting the “add” button over-and-over again on my favourite’s list on my Sainsbury’s app. Because having my shopping delivered to my door at 8pm on a Friday night, wine included, was (and still is) SO worth it! Using every minute of your day to make the next day slightly easier is key.’

Her top life hacks for working Mums include :

  • Give your partner jobs to do – they’re clueless as to what actually needs doing so tell them….nicely (if you haven’t already exploded at the sight of them staring out the window at nothing!)
  • Batch cook at the weekends
  • Microwave rice!
  • Get outfits out, pack bags and put them by the front door with shoes and coats, make packed lunches all the night before. Even at weekends.
  • Buy birthday cards in bulk
  • Stop writing Happy Birthday to all 450 of your friends on Facebook!
  • If you have a laundry room (or spare bedroom) don’t bother putting clothes away as the chances are you will recycle that same pile of clothes through the week
  • Share an online calendar with your partner

Being brutally honest, she says you need to have a good cry every so often so let it all out if you need to.

‘Parenthood is HARD! Being sleep deprived is HORRENDOUS! Hormonally, it’s a roller-coaster! Before kids, I was hard as nails. Now, it just takes the simplest “child gets hurt” story on the telly and that’s it, I’m off! It’s pathetic!’

Her main point is that to survive parenthood, a sense of humour is crucial.

‘I know I’ve been a bit mean about my husband but it’s only because we have the most amazing relationship where we have a giggle with each other. Without that sense of teamwork and companionship I don’t know how I’d have coped. Our girls don’t have a typical “Mum and Dad” from a traditional responsibilities point of view. We both drop off/pick up from nursery and nowadays, school. We both take them to clubs. We both cook meals, depending on our commitments that day. We both do laundry. We both read bedtime stories. We both changed nappies, made up bottles and provided a cosy chest to sleep on when they were babies.

We’ve been through the tough, the amazing, the proud, the annoyed and of course the funny times together because we’re a team and we’ve used our combined strengths and weaknesses to make it work without the help of the grandparents, the state or work.

That’s an achievement that we share and can laugh about when we’re clearing up puke at 3am or dealing with night terrors for the fifth time in one night. Because if at that moment we can’t look at each other and laugh, even if it’s an eye roll and sigh, we would cry!’

She says that the hardest times she’s experienced in parenthood have been up until the age of 4 but they don’t last forever. Her advice? Grin and bear it, with a glass of wine in hand of course!