Some ideas to help other returnees

General Details
Network:
Working mother
Profession:
Law
Type of leave:
Maternity
Number of years professional experience:
16-20 years
Length of leave:
4-5 months
Type of experience:
Mixed
Work pattern on return:
Part-time
Message I took two four-month maternity leaves (returning 4 days a week both times) and found it hard, as I would have liked longer. I would like to offer the following ideas, after my own experiences:
1. If you can, return more flexibly for the first few weeks. I hated the idea of leaving my babies and nearly resigned. My boss suggested I work at home once a week, and after a few weeks I eased back in.
2. Ask for a peer mentor. This will help you get back up to speed with any legal/market developments during your absence, at the level you work at.
3. Boost your own morale. My morale hit rock bottom from a combination of not knowing what I didn't know (developments), clients having been reallocated, missing the kids, and being exhausted. All of this is probably very common. With hindsight, I'd say pick the things you know you're good at, and people you work well with, and focus on those to begin with - it will help you feel better.
4. If you're working less than full time, never apologise. Explain if you like, but don't feel you have to tell everyone. If you offer times when you CAN do something, rather than saying what you can't do, most clients won't even notice you aren't in the office for some of the time (even if you are not glued to your blackberry). Avoid out of office messages unless you are totally incommunicado, but be clear with your team when you are/aren't reading emails or able to talk.
Most returnees won't find it easy, but I hope these ideas help, and encourage others to submit their own tips. Best of luck.

Replies

Lydia Merry Posted On 23rd Feb 2016 at 10:48
These are really useful - and practical so thank you. Am going off on my second maternity leave (first at this firm) in May, just at a crucial time when huge changes are happening. Am so tempted to come back earlier than planned (6 months) but know I would regret that. So thanks for the helpful ideas for making a return less painful. Flexibility from employers is the key!
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