Tips for getting your career back on track after a baby

To help with returning to work , the following advice should prove useful.

Preparation can be key. While you've no doubt been extremely busy during maternity or paternity leave, it's important not to switch off completely from work. Stay updated with what's been happening while you've been away, by chatting with colleagues, regularly checking the company website and internal communications, if applicable. You're also entitled to work up to ten days during leave, without losing any pay. These are literally titled 'keeping in touch' days.

Closer to the return date, arrange to meet up with colleagues, line manager, or significant others to be properly briefed on what you need to be prepared for. That way, you won't just turn up on your agreed return date and experience a huge culture shock.

You might want to consider the possibility of flexible working, or changing your hours. You have the right to request this from an employer, though they have the right to decline and explain why. But you must make sure you're performing to the best of your ability and if you're compromised between work and home life, that won't have a positive end result. Flexible hours don't automatically mean part-time hours - you can demonstrate how productive you will be with a new arrangement.

Get your childcare arrangements finalised. This is obvious, but you need to make properly organised and regular plans - not hope baby is looked after by close friends, grandparents and minders on the hoof. Consider nurseries. Stability is important for all concerned, so that your baby or child has a settled and secure routine. From your point of view, you'll be able to totally focus on work, during work, safe in the knowledge that proper care is in place and that you won't receive a stream of phone calls throughout the day.

You might also want to restrict baby talk when back in the working environment. People will be excited for you. Other colleagues will have children but plenty won't and if you want to make that clear distinction between being at work and being a parent then don't spend half the day talking about your little one! Save it for the lunch break and make it clear that when you're at work, you're all about work.

Finally, stress the positives of being a parent. Yes, you have other priorities in your life now but that doesn't mean your value as an employee has diminished in any way. In fact, your life skills are becoming more rounded and you can bring those into the work environment - patience, empathy, organisation and commitment.

Back to listing