Speak to any new mother and she will tell you that the first three months of motherhood were tough.
There were immense highs (baby’s arrival, baby’s first smile, baby’s first babble) but also intense lows (tiredness so extreme you want to cry, being on call constantly, dealing with colic).
But then you somehow turn a corner, and things start to feel easier. You know what you are doing and you get it done.
After a few months of enjoying time with your baby, your attention may turn to returning to work (eek!).
Here are 5 ways you can prepare for a first class return that has you feeling confident, and your manager feeling grateful to have you back.
1. Set up a lunch meeting with a work colleague
Arrange a coffee date or lunch date with one of your colleagues from your team or department. Get the rundown of what’s been happening in the office, the current objectives for the team and any specific challenges everyone is facing right now.
When you understand the current challenges, you will know where to focus your efforts so that you can make a difference when you return.
2. Set a 90-day goal.
Bearing mind the information you gathered in one above, think about one thing you would like to achieve in your first 90 days of being back in the office. It could be to land one new client or to bill a certain amount. Whatever the goal, make sure it is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Timed).
Having this goal will give you some focus and direction when you go back. It will take you a while to get into the swing of things, so this gives you something to work towards without waiting for work to be assigned to you.
3. Boost your confidence
Let’s face it, if you have been out of the office for a while and your days have been very different…(nappy changes, nursery rhymes, play dates galore), you may think you have forgotten everything and will be unable to perform as well when you return (oh that baby brain).
Well you haven’t…it’s all in your brain archives. You just need to sift through the files and find your old mental notes.
Grab a piece of paper and a pen. Write down all of the things you have done well in the past. Client praise, colleague praise or any other positive feedback. Now reflect on your positive performance and the skills you do have. This will instantly boost your confidence and remind you of what you have to offer.
4. Connect with clients and referral partners
When you are busy at work it’s hard to make time for business development and networking. Well now you have time. You can leverage the power of social media and connect with clients. Find out what they are up to by following them on social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook).
Social media isn’t just about posting pics of your holidays or favourite food. It is a powerful tool that can be used for business and career advancement.
When you see what your clients are up to via social media, you will have multiple conversation starters for the next time you connect with them.
5. Be present at home and at work
There is no doubt you will feel divided and guilty in the first few weeks of returning to work.
It is critical that you learn how to be truly present when you are at work, and truly present when you are at home with your baby. Being able to enjoy and fully perform in the task you are engaged with is going to make you feel better about your ability to “juggle” everything.
Get into the habit of taking a few moments when you finish work to let go of the stresses of the day and focus on the fact that it is now family time. When you are on your way to work start focusing on three main tasks you want to achieve in the day. This will reduce any feeling of overwhelm, and allow you to feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.
There are many more steps that you can take to prepare for a positive return to work experience, many of which we explore and dig into during The Smooth Return Course.
If you will be soon returning to work after maternity leave, this course will help you to have a calm and confident return, so that you continue your career success now that you have your precious baby.