27 April, 2023

Going back to work after maternity or parental leave can be hard.

A lot of parents – especially mothers – would like to stay at home with bub for longer but have to return to work out of necessity.

This can create feelings of sadness and guilt around leaving their child in someone else’s care, and anxiety around whether their child is being well looked after in their absence.

Other challenges can include being worried about coping with the workload and juggling family life with a career.

With so much to think about during such a significant period of change, it’s no wonder most new mums and parents feel overwhelmed going back to work after baby.

We hope these tips help make your transition back to work after maternity leave as smooth as possible.


Consider Your Schedule

We understand not everyone has the option to ease back into work part-time, but if you do have the choice, it’s worth considering what’s best for you.

You might not feel ready to return to work full-time and instead choose to return gradually by working a couple of days a week. Or you might prefer to slide right back into your role and hours full-time.

Consider your situation and weigh up your options.


Practise Your new Routine

Dropping bub off at childcare or leaving them in someone else’s care for the first time can be an emotional experience for everyone involved. It can help to tick this milestone off the list before your first day back at work to avoid starting the day with elevated emotions.

If you can, consider starting your child at care a week or two before your first day so they can get familiar with the new routine and comfortable with their caregiver. This can help ease some of your anxiety around how they’re coping without you while you’re at work.

You might also like to try doing some dry runs of your workday routine before the big day. Get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, drop bub off at care, and arrive at your workplace. This can help you adjust timing as needed and feel confident in your new routine ahead of time.


Set Expectations with Your Boss

Be honest with your boss or manager about how your first few weeks back might look.

It’s not uncommon to be a bit wobbly as you transition back to work after maternity leave while navigating a whirlwind of emotions.

Where possible and needed, discuss flexible working arrangements, and be sure to confirm these in writing. For example, there might be some work-related travel you’re no longer willing to do. Or perhaps you need to shuffle your hours to suit care drop-off and pick-up.

It’s important that you show your commitment to your job, but also be realistic about expectations as you find your footing again. These conversations are crucial to ensuring you and your employer are on the same page and you feel supported in this new chapter.


Prioritise Your Mental Health

Being a parent is hard. Working is hard. Doing both at the same time can be exhausting.

During this time of give, give, giving to your family and your workplace, it’s important to pay attention to how you’re feeling day to day so you can be proactive about your mental health and wellbeing.

Prioritise the things you need to feel relaxed, recharged, and human. This might be a 10-minute morning meditation, a daily solo walk in the fresh air and quiet, or a weekly catchup with your best friend.

You can’t pour from an empty cup, and maintaining your mental health and happiness will benefit you, your family, and your work. So check in with yourself regularly, make self-care a daily habit, and lean on your support network when you’re struggling.

Asking for help from friends, family, your workplace, or a professional isn’t always easy. We offer advice to ask for help when you’re not doing great here.

If you need some extra help coping with life right now, talking to a counsellor might help.  Learn about our counselling service and how to book an appointment here, or call 1300 364 277.


Feeling guilty about returning to work after maternity? We explore mum guilt and how to cope in this blog post.