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Maternity Leave is Ending: How to Prepare to Re-Join the Workforce


Many women feel that it is necessary to return to the work force after giving birth. While maternity leave can be a challenging prospect, it need not be difficult, if proper planning is done ahead of time. While still on maternity leave, start by setting up a successful return to work strategy.

Be OK with the Situation

This can include, first and foremost, refusing allow guilt to enter the picture. While returning to work after maternity leave can sometimes pose emotional conflicts, working outside of the home should not be looked upon as a drawback, but rather, an enhancement to your child's life. In fact, there is plenty of data that shows how a woman that has outside career interests is actually happier, since she has her own identity. A happy mother will be instrumental in having a happier child.

Child Care Arrangements

Once your attitude is in check, it is time to find dependable and suitable child care. Start early enough so that you have plenty of time to consider all of your options and are not rushed in the process. By looking into local child care providers and facilities well ahead of time, you will have more choices. Search for a safe, yet stimulating and clean environment with qualified caregivers. Some places to get references include your baby's doctor, friends who are parents, neighbors and co-workers.

When interviewing and considering potential caregivers, ensure that there are ample references. Once you have narrowed down a list, invite potential caregivers to spend the day with you to get a feel for your child and the current environment.

Have a backup plan in place should your baby become sick or the caregiver become unavailable on a workday.

Check to see if your anticipated work schedule overlaps nicely with your spouse's schedule. You might only need child care to fill in the short time gap (if any) instead of long term child care.

If you'll have a rotating schedule, consider the help of family or close friends who live nearby. Drop in child care also works best for this sort of work scenario.

Prepare for Return to Work

Once childcare is taken care of, it is time to confront the details associated with returning to work. Have a conversation with your boss to refresh what your job duties will be and the schedule so that you will be aware of what is expected upon your return to work. This is a good time to explore flexible hours, telecommuting or possibly working part time if that is an option. Trying to negotiate for at least one work from home day, if that is applicable to your job, is also a good idea.

If possible, return to work later in the week. This will make the first week short and easier to deal with initially.

Organize for an Adjustment Period

Once back at work, expect for an adjustment period as you become more adept at managing multiple tasks and demands. Below are some tips that may assist in the process:

Get organized with a daily to-do list. Divide the list into tasks for work and for home, or tasks for you and your partner. Prioritize by what you need to do, what can wait, and eliminate any items that can be skipped, or put them on a list for later.

Plan to have at least one daily phone call to your baby's caregiver. Put a favorite photo of your baby on your desk or in the work area. Ensure that you have set aside some time after work to reconnect with your baby sufficiently.

Solicit Help as Needed

Feel free to accept help from your partner, loved ones and friends. Do not be afraid to express yourself if you need to have a discussion with someone, whether the issue is feeling a bit guilty or slightly overwhelmed, or even if you're just having trouble pumping milk at work or nursing at home. There are friends and professionals available from many resources, so take advantage of them as needed.

Take Care of Yourself

Be sure to take time to nurture yourself. Relax and unwind in a bath, listen to soft music or read a book. Cut down on commitments so that you don't get stressed out. Choose a reasonable bedtime, and make certain to get enough sleep. On the weekends or when you are home, try to sleep when the baby sleeps. You will find that you are more refreshed when you get adequate rest.

While motherhood is a job that does not end, many women have found it necessary to return to a position at a company. The end of maternity leave does not have to include despair, along with the other challenges of returning to the work force. Careful planning will make for the smoothest transition.

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