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5 tips for a smooth return to work after parental leave

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​Returning to work after parental leave can be challenging, both emotionally and practically, but you are not alone - according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2020, there were 125,900 mothers who took parental leave in Australia, and refreshingly, over 68 thousand males who took paternity leave. It can be difficult to balance the demands of a new baby with the responsibilities of a job, and many parents feel guilty or torn about leaving their child. In this post, we’ll discuss some tips for overcoming the challenges of returning to work after parental leave.

1. Plan ahead

Before returning to work, it’s important to plan ahead and make arrangements for childcare, transportation, and other logistics. Talk to your employer about your schedule and any accommodations you may need, such as a private place to pump breast milk. Consider gradually easing back into work by starting with a few days a week, or working part-time initially.

2. Find support

Returning to work after parental leave can feel isolating, so it’s important to find support from colleagues, friends, and family. Joining a support group or networking with other working mothers can be a great way to connect with others who are going through similar experiences. Consider reaching out to your employer’s employee resource group for working parents, if available.

For mothers, another great resource is Working Mumma, a great website packed with real-life lessons from founder, Carina O’Brien, local support groups and return-to-work programs.

3. Manage guilt

Many mums and dads feel guilty about leaving their child. It’s important to recognise and manage these feelings by setting realistic expectations for yourself and focusing on the positive aspects of your job. Remind yourself that you are setting a good example for your child by being a working parent and providing for your family.

4. Communicate with your employer

Communication is key when returning to work after parental leave. Be honest with your employer about your needs and limitations, and ask for support when you need it. Consider setting clear boundaries between work and home life, and be assertive about your needs and priorities.

5. Take care of yourself

Returning to work after parental leave can be stressful, so it’s important to prioritise self-care. Make time for exercise, relaxation, and other activities that help you feel balanced and refreshed. Consider talking to a therapist or counsellor if you are feeling overwhelmed or struggling with your transition back to work.

Returning to work after parental leave can be challenging, but with the right strategies and support, it is possible to successfully navigate this transition. By planning ahead, finding support, managing guilt, communicating with your employer, and prioritising self-care, you can make a smooth and successful return to work.

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