Returning to work post baby IS a big deal. It is another milestone, another change, and a whole load of other priorities to fit into what probably is already a busy life.
It is normal to feel anxious, not sure your head is in the right space yet, or like you don’t have your confidence back: taking time out of work to raise a family can do that. But it doesn’t have to be that way. One of the key areas I work with my clients on is resetting the mindset on return from parental leave to work and focusing on boosting confidence. It is all too easy to let those overwhelming thoughts in and hard to get rid of them! But don’t fret, a few simple steps can get you feeling ready.
Below I’ve shared my top 5 tips to help you prepare;
1. Reframe your mindset about returning
First place to start is to assess how you are thinking about your return. Those quiet little thoughts that come niggling in telling you it will be hard, or you don’t know if you can still do the work: they simply are not helpful. See your return to work as an opportunity. You can redefine how you want to show up, you make a choice about whether you show up with confidence in who you are. Start by noting any negative thoughts that come into your mind and reframe them into the positive. For example, ‘I don’t feel confident in my abilities’ could be ‘I am really looking forward to developing again’.
2. Visualise your first day back and what you want this to look like
Start with your morning routine: you probably want to get to work feeling calm, so build in some extra time. Establish your priorities; how you fit a shower in and get your little one to childcare all before 9am! Think about how you want to feel, what you might be saying to people, what they might be saying to you and also what you will be wearing at work (how do you want to look?).
3. Be prepared to reintroduce yourself
A lot can happen when you are off on parental leave and there might be new people to meet on return or the organisation might have changed. Be prepared and feel comfortable with how you will introduce yourself to old colleagues and new ones. An idea is to talk about what you do and what you are excited about. We build a perception of people in the first few minutes, this is an opportunity to present yourself the way you want to.
4. Reconnect with your strengths
This is important. Highlighting the things you are great at will boost how you are feeling as well as help you back into your career. This might not be comfortable, however to really ensure this is effective there are a few things you need to do:
- Review where you had positive feedback and what this was specifically about.
- Remember where people did lean on you (e.g. specific pieces of work, projects you ran, last minute help requests)
- Write down what you really enjoyed
Another thing you can do is ask people around you now! I asked my husband and he said I was: determined, a challenger, motivational and a relationship builder (I probably wouldn’t have said some of these about myself!). Jot everything down so you can visualise it. Create a folder to add any future feedback to so you always have a pot of positive sentiments at hand when you’re feeling a bit down.
5. Frame your new skillsets
Anyone on parental leave learns a lot, you have grown new skills and built resilience. Don’t underplay this. Many skills you have learnt can be translated to the workplace. For example, think about multitasking – vital in most workplace situations! Think about how you can transfer these skills to your role and how you will position them when talking about your career.
Now go for it!
Working on these 5 points will help build your confidence in your ability and reset your mindset about returning. You can use a simple mind map to help you put these thoughts on paper. And if you need more support or want to talk this list through, just drop me a message!
This article was written by Kellie Nedelcoux one of our partner coaches whois empowering women who are heading off or returning from maternity leave to: regain their sense of self, build their confidence, own their career and balance their life.
You can get in touch via her profile page or book a free discovery call with Kellie here https://calendly.com/career_and_parenthood/30min?month=2023-04 .
April 19, 2023