Things to Consider Before Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

busy mum sat at desk holding baby

Making the decision to return to work after maternity leave can be tough. Not only will you be thinking about parting from your baby, perhaps for the first time, you will also likely be looking at the financial aspects and whether it even makes logistical sense to go back to a job now you have a child.

These are some of the things to consider before returning to work after maternity leave. 

Are You Ready?

It may sound obvious but the first thing you need to consider is how you are feeling about returning to work.

Does it fill you with dread or does it make you feel excited and ready for a new challenge?

Put aside all other issues for a second and deal with your own emotions about this transition to see whether it is right for you right now.

Does It Make Financial Sense? 

Believe it or not, sometimes it actually doesn’t ‘pay’ to return to work, depending on how much you earn and how much childcare costs (if you require it).

When I had my youngest, I was at a part-time job, and I would have actually lost money by the time I took out the nursery fees. I ended up taking some extra time out before going self-employed and working around him until he was at school, which made more financial sense for us. 

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How Flexible Is Your Employer? 

Some employers are more understanding than others when it comes to employees who are parents.

Find out whether you are able to work flexible hours to work around childcare, as well as getting to grips with any additional benefits your workplace may offer for those with young children, such as an on-site creche or breastfeeding facilities, should you need these. 

What Childcare Can You Access?

It’s worth looking into childcare options as early as possible, as some local nurseries can get booked up in advance and may not have spaces.

Research childcare providers and find one which is right for you and your child. This could be a nursery or a childminder, or even a nanny. Make sure you find out the opening hours of nurseries and factor in travel times, so you won’t be hit with a hefty fine if you are late for pick-ups. 

Do You Have A Support Network?

Do you have friends or relatives who might be able to help with some of the childcare or picking them up before you finish work? It can save money but also bring a little peace of mind if you have somebody you and your child know looking after them. 

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Can You Access Any Financial Support? 

Finally, there are benefits available to some families with young children, which can really help with childcare costs, especially in those early days when you first return to work after maternity leave.

It's worth finding out whether you are eligible for these and accessing the funds as soon as you can. Check the government website for the most up-to-date information on what benefits you may be able to claim, and check with your childcare provider and employer, too, as they will be able to help look into this for you. 

These are all considerations to take into account when making the decision of whether (or when) to return to work after maternity leave, but the most important element is how you feel about it.

Returning to the workplace after becoming a mother can be really tough, but it can also feel freeing if you have found yourself cooped up at home a lot with a newborn. Whatever your decision, do not feel guilty for doing what is best for you, your baby and your family. 

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