Mothers re-entering the workforce can experience anxiety and nerves similar to a child’s first day of school. You’re nervous about taking on all the tasks you left behind you and you’re nervous about the work done by your fill-in. However, the thing that you are most nervous about is leaving your precious new family member with the sitter or at daycare.
First of all, congratulations on your new family member! Secondly, try not to fret too much. Re-entering the workforce can be a smooth transition if you allow it to be.
You may be a nervous wreck inside, but you’ll come off as far more professional and ready if you come back to the office exuding confidence. This doesn’t mean coming in and just taking over; rather, be confident that your co-workers and fill-in were able to do their best while you were gone. Don’t criticize the work done in your absence unless it’s your direct responsibility to do so.
Be confident in your ability to pick up where your fill-in left off, and be sure to thank them for their efforts in your absence. It shows that you really appreciate the hard work you know they did.
If you need to prepare some things the night (or even a few days) beforehand, make sure that you do so. From task prep to answering a couple of emails, coming back to the office prepared is a key aspect in feeling like you’re going to come back and make some serious contributions. Many mothers can feel a little lost when they come back to the office and that they lack direction.
Be sure to reach out a few days beforehand and ask if there’s anything important you need to catch up on before you come back. This shows both your co-workers and your boss that you’re ready to hit the ground running.
Things may have changed in your absence. Don’t feel rushed to complete tasks or impatient with the people filling you in. If company policies or the status of a project changed while you were away, you’ll need that information in order to catch up. Don’t brush off the information being given to you in your transition.
Take your time with your work, and be patient with yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t catch on right away or if you make little mistakes. It’s important that you allow yourself to get re-established in the office.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Obviously, things occurred in the weeks you were gone, and not knowing is okay--but refusing to admit that you don’t know and faking your way through it can lead to frustrating mistakes on your end. If you need help, a walkthrough of new software or a new project, do not be afraid to ask.
New mothers can often find that coming back to the office is daunting and scary. But, with these tips and a little self-confidence, you can make your transition back to work a little easier on you and your co-workers.