Returning to work after maternity leave will bring out a range of issues to consider and a whole host of emotions to deal with.
The practicalities will mean that a balance will need to be struck – and for us to be happy in life that needs to be a good ‘work – life balance’ rather than ‘work – life conflict!’
When first returning to work you may be glad of the balance – the differences of work and home life can help us to feel fulfilled. For some, we may experience a range of emotions and feelings such as guilt. Guilt can arise for different reasons – guilt at leaving your baby with someone else, guilt at not being able to spend the time you might want to in work; guilt at not having the energy or quality time with your partner – a whole host of reasons.
The key to finding a good balance is first to understand how you feel. Are you feeling satisfied and happy or are there things that don’t feel quite right?
For us to feel happy we need to get our *Essential Needs met – and they need to be met to levels that we feel satisfied with. When more than two or three of these needs are in levels of dissatisfaction this is when we start to feel low and even depressed. So what are our Essential Needs and how are we impacted when we have been off on maternity leave?
Our Essential Needs:
- We need to feel safe – in our home, our work place, our environment, with the people around us – free from bullying and harassment and other people trying to control us. We also need to feel confident that our job will still be there for us when we want to return to work and that if there have been any changes in the work place, then we will be able to cope with them.
- We need to feel in control – this isn’t about controlling others, but about feeling in control of ourselves and what is going on in our lives. Feeling grounded and having a grip on reality! When we have a new baby – they have needs and demands – this can lead to us feeling a little out of control. The routine and freedom we had previously can now be taken over by a small person demanding things at all hours of the day and night!
- Having a connection to others – there are a few things here – we need intimacy and love in our lives. We also need the connection out to a wider circle of friends, our family – a wider community. Being able to have respectful communications with others is key and being respected in those interactions is vital. Having a new small person in our lives can be a wonderful experience – if we go back to work, the relationships we have with our colleagues and our child care provider is fundamental to ensure trust and piece of mind.
- Having privacy – time to integrate all that has gone on for us in the day. Time for ourselves – to enjoy – to relax. Taking time out for ourselves allows us to build up our energy levels and inner resilience. You may feel that you don’t have time for this or may feel guilty if you take the time. Let go of the guilt! Without time to recharge and nurture yourself, your energy levels will drop, you may experience feelings of frustration and then your connection to others will suffer.
- Having a sense of status and feeling valued – not about what level job we do – but about being acknowledged for what we do and the contribution that we make out there in the world and to others. Work will provide this for you – it is also important that your partner and family acknowledge all that you do for them, your home and your family.
- Feeling competent and achieving things is vital to boost our sense of self-esteem. With all the additional demands that having children and balancing work can place on us, our time management skills can be stretched to the limit! The key to this is getting organised, being able to meet the time pressures and demands that all aspects of our life place on us. Make sure you set your goals appropriately, allow the right amount of time to get to your appointments and don’t over stretch yourself. Don’t run the risk of hurtling at break neck speed to get to your child minder if a meeting over runs!
- Having mental stimulation and challenge and allowing for creativity. Our brain is like a muscle after all – so use it or lose it! When we are off on maternity leave it is important that we still do things to give ourselves mental stretch. Only having conversations everyday with a little person that can’t speak yet isn’t going to tick this box 100%! Find other ways of achieving this and when you get back to work allow yourself the appropriate amount of time to understand any changes to your job and simply getting back into the swing of things.
The transition back to work needs organisation and planning, the support of others, good time management skills and letting go of any feelings of guilt. With a little person in your life – things have now changed. Find a new way through – find ways to get your Essential Needs met and create a happy and fulfilled life in balance.
*Essential NeedsÓ are derived from the work of the Human Givens Institute
Janice Haddon has over 25 years’ experience in strategic and operational Human Resources and management consultancy. Working across a range of sectors and with start-ups to top 20 companies, Janice is a qualified coach and has a passion for integrating performance, personal positivity and wellbeing into the work place. A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology, an MA in Psychotherapy and an MBA from Henley Management College, Janice is also a Master Practitioner in NLP, a Cognitive Hypnotherapist, Psychotherapy Counsellor and runs a number of businesses including Morgan Redwood.
DISCLAIMER: I have not been paid for this post.