Going back to work can be daunting after a long, or short, break for maternity leave. But navigating the minefield of questions that come with it can be downright confusing.
Childcare choices typically include relatives, friends, nurseries, nannies, and childminders. Every family will need different help so be sure to investigate what works best for you – in many cases it’s a combination.
Have a backup plan when it comes to childcare as you never know when something will come up. Whether you have a friend on standby or engage a service such as Emergency Childcare (www.emergencychildcare.co.uk), you’ll be prepared when a must-attend meeting comes up on the same day your child’s nursery is closed due to flooding.
You’ll have noticed that things changed at home when your baby arrived – I guarantee they will change again when you go back to work. Take time to discuss the domestic workload with your partner and look at how you share the tasks at home – you’ll need to revisit this conversation frequently so keep the channels of communication open.
Think about everything you can do in advance and do it! From preparing bags the night before to making meals in advance and freezing them – this means you can enjoy the time you have with each other rather than constantly rushing around.
When it comes to all things legal, consult the HR department at work. They will be able to tell you all about the holiday you’ve accrued while on maternity leave, they will be the ones to consider a request for flexible working and they will have information on any schemes your company offers to help with childcare or the transition back into the workforce.
If you have further questions you can consult a government body such as Citizens Advice (www.citizensadvice.org.uk).
When it comes to understanding what help you can benefit from, the best place to go for the most up to date information is www.gov.uk. This is where you’ll find information on everything from Working Tax Credits and Family Allowance to free childcare provisions for children aged 3+.
Give yourself time to adjust; things won’t go back to the way they were – you’re a working parent now. Go into the office in advance and have a chat with your boss, meet any new faces and introduce your little one to
the team – keeping this separate from work time is important. Build up your network of friends and colleagues and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
My Family Care are an organisation that works with employers to develop and implement strategies that encourage a positive environment for employees where work and family both work.