Returning to work after maternity leave with confidence by Sam James

Going back to work after maternity leave

For a lot of women, returning to work after maternity leave can be an emotionally challenging time, often associated with a lack of confidence. There are numerous research studies that have shown that the majority of women feel that their confidence has dropped since becoming a mum. If you are reading this and nodding your head, please remember that you are not alone in this. In fact you are in very good company! Secondly, lets put this into context – your life has changed dramatically since you began your maternity leave. You will have been through such a roller coaster of emotions, felt things you didn’t know it was possible to feel in such an intense way, been at the mercy of so many hormonal fluctuations, and probably feeling pretty sleep deprived too!

So, now that you know that you are not alone and that there are lots of logical reasons to be feeling like this, what can you do about it? There are some great things you can do, that will start to boost your confidence again, so that you can walk into work feeling good.

Get clear on what feeling confident really means to you. How confidence looks and feels is different for everyone, and for different situations. You can be confident in one situation and a wobbly, nervous wreck in another. The key to confidence, is about understanding what it means to you and what helps you feel confident. I often ask people to think about a time when they felt really confident, and then from here you can start to learn about your confidence. What did you do, that enabled you to feel confident? Some examples are to do with what you are wearing, make-up, feeling prepared, feeling calm. Going back to work after maternity leave

Remind yourself of your successes. Remind yourself of the things that you have achieved. When your inner chatter starts telling you all the things you can’t do or haven’t done well you can remind them that you have actually succeeded at these things.

Connect with colleagues / friends before returning to work. Reaching out and reconnecting with people you enjoy spending time with at work, will help you start to feel part of it all again. They can give you the low down of what has been happening whilst you have been away.

Don’t do it alone.  Whether it is a supportive partner, or family members and friends. Talk to them. Approach this as a team effort – it doesn’t all have to be on your shoulders and in your head. There may be things that other people can help out with, that you hadn’t thought of. 

Ask work for help. The majority of work places are supportive and accommodating to the needs of new parents, especially when they know what they are! It can be easy for colleagues / managers to be unaware of what it is like to return to work (or if they are mums themselves, they may have forgotten). Don’t be afraid to ask for support. Is there someone who can be a buddy whilst you settle back in?

Be kind to yourself . It might take time to find your feet again, to familiarise yourself with any technical things or be taught new things. Don’t expect to turn up on day one and be back to your normal levels of productivity! It will return, but in the same way that if your colleague was returning from long-term sick leave you would expect them to take some time to get back to full speed, allow yourself the same generosity.

Clarity on your new boundaries. Returning to work as parent, means that you will be returning with different priorities, possibly different hours. Be realistic about what can / can’t achieve; discuss these with your manager. Focus on what you can do, as this will boost your belief in yourself rather than feeling like can’t do everything. This also follows in terms of personal life – maybe some things need to take a back seat whilst you adjust to the new rhythm of being a working parent.

Do not feel guilty about finishing when you have done your hours. I have heard many people saying “I feel guilty for leaving work early”. In reality they are not leaving work early. They are finishing work when they have completed their contracted hours. Clocking off becomes a whole new focus when you become a parent, because often you need to get back and collect the little one(s) by a particular time (agreed with the chidminder / nursery). I talk to a lot of parents who struggle with this, because they worry their colleagues think they aren’t pulling their weight etc. Stop right there! You are working your contracted hours, the hours you are getting paid for. Far too often, people are working above and beyond their hours. This isn’t a good thing, regardless of whether you have kids or not. Know your boundaries, and work within them. Inspire others to do the same – work to live, not live to work. 

Please remember that you have totally got this! You are not alone in your worries and wobbles, I promise you that there are lots of women out there feeling the same and that it does get easier with time.

Love Sam from Sam James Coaching

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If you’d love more ideas on boosting your confidence, come along and see Sam at The Parent and Baby Show on Sunday 16th Sept. Sam is also running a talk offering tips to help you return to work with confidence and how to cope and deal with the stresses of maternity leave ending!