Your First-Day-Back-After-Maternity-Leave Survival Guide

by Alex Davies |
Updated on

You’re a mum. You’re confident. You can survive on an impossibly small amount of sleep. Yet you’ve still got nerves about going back to work

You haven’t been this nervous since your actual first day. Of your first ever job. But it’s finally here – you’re going back to work after mat leave.

Keeping in touch with colleagues and your manager can help you feel prepared in the run up to your return, but what about that all-important first day?

From getting ready in the morning to dealing with emotional moments, arm yourself with these coping strategies.

Don’t expect too much of yourself

First off, tell yourself this is a period of transition and you won’t hit fifth gear straight away.

‘It takes around three months to settle back in, so give yourself low expectations of what you’ll achieve on that first day – that way you don’t put pressure on yourself,’ says Jessica Chivers, author of Mothers Work! How to Get a Grip on Guilt and Make a Smooth Return to Work (Hay House UK £10.99) and part of our Working Mums Panel.

Speak to your manager before you start so everything (computers, meetings et al) is set up and you can get a plan in place.

Prepare the night before

Whether it’s yours or your baby’s bag that needs packing – do it the night before. There’s nothing like the words ‘last’ and ‘minute’ to stress you out – especially when you’re already nervous.

‘See if your partner can take your baby to nursery that morning so all you have to focus on is getting to work,’ says Jessica.

Make an effort

A bit of lipstick or a new blouse doesn’t sound like a massive deal, but the little things can make you feel more confident. ‘People respond to visual cues so it’s always good to look presentable,’ says Jessica.

‘It doesn’t have to be anything huge, and helps create that distinction in your mind between life at home and at work.’

Get back in the ‘In’ crowd

If you’ve been away for a while, chances are there will be some unfamiliar faces on the team – so ask a colleague to introduce you.

Set up catch ups or just ask a friend to fill you in

‘If relevant, set up catch ups or just ask a friend to fill you in on anything new,’ says Jessica.

Plus, it’s a great excuse to check out some of the new coffee shops near your office.

Take your lunch hour

Yes, we mean it. Some days there just isn’t time, but your first one back is not one of them. ‘Go for a walk or catch up with a colleague,’ says Jessica. ‘This is about easing yourself back in and you’ll probably find you need the break after being out of the work mind-set for a while.’

And believe us, stepping away from your desk will make you more productive.

Manage emotional moments

Whether you’re overwhelmed or missing your baby, an OMG moment during the day is understandable – but try not to let it get the best of you.

‘Step outside, take a deep breath and acknowledge that you’re finding it a bit much,’ says Jessica. ‘Identify the feeling and remind yourself your baby’s fine and there’s only a few hours to go – this gives you some perspective.’ Ring your partner or friend for a chat if needs be, take a few minutes and then go back inside.

Keep your evening free

Same goes for your weekend. First days are exhausting, so go home, put on your joggers, eat a nice dinner, stick on Homeland and have a quiet evening with your partner and baby. And breathe.

How are you getting ready for going back to work? Let us know below.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us
How we write our articles and reviews
Mother & Baby is dedicated to ensuring our information is always valuable and trustworthy, which is why we only use reputable resources such as the NHS, reviewed medical papers, or the advice of a credible doctor, GP, midwife, psychotherapist, gynaecologist or other medical professionals. Where possible, our articles are medically reviewed or contain expert advice. Our writers are all kept up to date on the latest safety advice for all the products we recommend and follow strict reporting guidelines to ensure our content comes from credible sources. Remember to always consult a medical professional if you have any worries. Our articles are not intended to replace professional advice from your GP or midwife.