Changing gears from night feeds to team meetings will be daunting for any parent. Here are a few tips to help you have smoother return to work after paternity leave.
1. Buddy up
Even before returning to work it is worth asking Human Resources or your manager to introduce you to someone who has recently returned to work after paternity leave. Have a chat about their experience transitioning back to work. Their regrets, insights and tips will all be extremely helpful in putting together a plan for your return.
2. Start at the middle of the week
Returning to work on a Wednesday or Thursday will give you a few days to familiarise yourself with what you missed and test out your return to work strategies. Use that first weekend to swot up and reshape your plan so you have a more efficient plan for your first full week back. Do not be afraid to highlight any areas you identify as potentially problematic to your manager. They would rather have a plan than have to fight a fire in crisis mode.
3. Find out what you are entitled to in terms of flexible working
The evidence tells us that parents who have a staged return after parental leave do better than those who jump in with both feet. Find what form of flexible working your organisation allows and use this to gradually wade your way back into work. Do not give up if there is no pre-existing transitioning policy. Approach HR and your manager with a plan and they just might accommodate you.
4. Have a plan for emergency absences
Unexpected illnesses, accidents, nursery closures and inset days will inevitably happen. Have a list of pre-vetted babysitters and family members who are already acquainted with and comfortable with your child. It may be worth having Some trial sessions before you return to work. Some employers offer emergency childcare as an employee perk, make sure to find out if you are eligible
5. Talk about your baby
Becoming a parent is a huge life event. Yet many parents worry about boring their coworkers by talking about their children. Allowing your co-workers to share in your journey through pictures and stories of your child will give you an extra dimension which will help you connect with colleagues and clients. It may even make co-workers more willing to help out and support you when their understanding is needed.
Going back to work does not have to be a chore. Make the most of the time at home with your baby, but also be fully present at work.