How to prepare for your first day in the office after parental leave

You do not want to be that mother who returns to work, only to find out that no-one was expecting you, your computer doesn’t work and you have no idea what the hell you are doing. 

Going back to work is exciting but comes with many challenges. We know you’re juggling a lot of things, but it’s important to spend some precious time before your return thinking about your role and how your manager can best support you. It will be so much easier if there are less unknowns and you feel more in control of the transition back.

Have you considered using one of your Keeping in Touch days to meet with your manager and discuss your return, two to four weeks prior? Check out our article What you need to know about Keeping in Touch days.

Here are some things to consider prior – 

  1. Will an email be sent to the team announcing your return? We’ve heard from many women who walk back into the office on day one only to be met with ‘Oh, I didn’t know you were back today.’ It’s not the start you want.
  2. Is your manager open to you returning slowly? Start on a Tuesday or perhaps work a short week to begin with. You will be exhausted and it’s stressful with your new care arrangements, so go easy.
  3. Be open about your care arrangements and timings. When will you be in and when do you need to leave? What role is your partner taking on? Better to set expectations—and definitely don’t apologise.
  4. What would you like your first few days to look like? Is there anything you need your manager to specifically do? Don’t be afraid to ask and make the return as seamless as possible.
  5. Would you benefit from any updates, inductions or training to get you back up to speed?
  6. Clarify expectations on your role and what you will need to deliver. Make sure you have clarity on the role that you are returning to and what you will be expected to do (we can’t stress how important this is.) If you are coming back to your old role, you will want to know where your current projects / work is at. If you don’t feel comfortable about what has been proposed in your role, it’s important that you raise your concerns.
  7. What will the hand-over plan be? Will there be one? Will your replacement still be in the office?
  8. Will your computer and technology be ready to go? Do you need a security pass? The last thing you want is to have trouble getting in the door or to be sitting around all day on your first day back.

We are not going to lie. The return is hard but don’t be afraid to let your manager and colleagues know how you are feeling. It’s never easy but we hope these few tips help make the return slightly easier and more enjoyable.

And importantly, enjoy that coffee on your own and trip to the toilet without kids hanging off you every second of the day!

Written by the team at Circle In

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