Returning to work after Mat. Leave…
…it’s as easy as child’s play….or is it?
It seems like just yesterday we were throwing her a baby shower, but following 9 months of Maternity Leave, UP’s HR Team Lead, Sarah Macfarlane is back with us and takes to the blog this week to share her ‘return to work’ experiences (yes, plural!)
Ssshhh…I’m a bad Mummy… I looked forward to returning to work from Maternity Leave from my first baby. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved my time off with my new mini human (NMH) and put my time to good use:
- Networking (meeting antenatal Mum’s)
- Business Development (thinking up new product ideas that would save my life when tending to my NMH)
- Counselling (those midnight fears that all is not well and what colour should the poo really be?)
- Physical Health & Development (tapping in to the new mummy network… “Does your mini human do this?”, “No”, “Oh dear, should I worry that mine does?”.)
Arriving 9 days late, I had plenty of time to feel like I was going to be pregnant for ever; move over Nelly, eat yet more cake, pack and re-pack my hospital bag, catch up with the antenatal ladies who have already produced their NMHs and thinking to myself, “this looks easy, all they do is sleep…how hard can that be…” Well, my 9 months of Maternity Leave flew by and before long my thoughts moved from feeding/ sleeping schedules to returning to work. This can only be described as a really conflicting time as a lorry load of new worry arrives at the door, feeling like the only Mummy ever to return to work, new issues arise; have we picked the right type of childcare for our NMH? Who on earth will understand their laughs, whimpers and body language as well as me? How will I leave the house in the morning having showered and be wearing matching shoes before 10? How on earth will I get on at work and what if I’m no longer any good at my job? This is why it is really important to agree with your Line Manager/ HR Rep before your Maternity Leave how and when you might use ‘Keep in Touch’ days during your leave (you can utilise 10 without affecting SMP), be included in team/ department meetings so that you are up to date with what is going on, especially at times of organisational change and even do some work! So with all the ‘back to work’ worrying out the way, the physical effort should be a piece of cake, right? Well, not always! Take it from someone who had the worst return to work on record…let me explain:
Return to work was planned for a Tuesday at the beginning of February, I was enjoying my proud Mummy glow as my NMH was settling into nursery like a pro, so I was confident it was all ‘going to plan’. Unfortunately my NMH had other plans and the day that I should have been returning to work, I was hot-footing it to the Sick Kids with a poorly wee girl which ended in a girls sleepover. Epic fail in terms of a successful return to work.
Attempt #2 was rescheduled for the following Tuesday. Again my NMH had other plans and was sent home from nursery with a temperature on the Monday. Now the more seasoned reader will understand that she was not allowed back to nursery for 24 hours so I was not going anywhere near work on Tuesday. This was new information to me being a Newbie (note to self, to read the info provided by nursery more closely!).
Was a success, (go me!), however, was laced with more bad Mummy/ bad employee guilt…my colleagues with experience in this field told me to get used to it.
Back at the desk…
So here I am, back at the desk – I got here eventually! I’ve been fortunate that I have been able to enjoy a phased return to work, adjusting my working days and hours that I work so that I am hopefully able to ensure that I leave the house showered, with matching shoes and that I have wiped off the mashed banana (easier said than done, mashed banana could be used as Polyfila!). The phased return is something I would highly recommend – both from a personal and an HR perspective – so it is worth discussing with your employer to find out if it is a possibility. Do not underestimate the new challenges that may arise with this transition back into the real world…..no matter how much you might want to be there. Line Managers and HR alike also play a huge part in making this a positive experience for staff which will only enhance employee relations in the long run. To find out more about Maternity Leave or managing the Return to Work process why not contact our lovely HR team, who will explain all the processes so that they are as easy as A-B-C!