Baby on mother's lap reaching for her laptop.

If you’re coming to the end of your maternity leave and losing sleep over how to make the transition back to work easier on you and your family, you’re not alone. 

For most parents, this is a stressful time with lots of uncertainty. 

Your responsibilities at work may have changed or perhaps you have a new manager.

You may be wondering, ‘how on earth am I going to get my little one ready for daycare in the mornings and still make it to work on time?’ 

This is one of the hardest transitions we have to make in our careers, but the good news is that at My Parental Leave, we’re here to help!

As a career coach for working moms and parental leave expert, I have guided over eight hundred Canadian women through the parental leave and return to work process – not to mention taking three mat leaves of my own! 

Here are my top three tips for returning to work after your parental leave:

Plan for the unexpected.

When I first went back to work, my partner Berto and I, expected that work would be relatively the same. We agreed that he would take our son to daycare each morning and I would start work at seven thirty so I could leave in time to handle all of the pick-ups. Easy peesy! 

In reality, it looked nothing like that. We argued about who would dip into their vacation time when we had to keep my son home for five days because he had a fever. 

I became resentful that I always missed late afternoon meetings because I did all of the daycare pick-ups and Berto would get annoyed with my flurry of text messages each morning reminding him to do this or that as he got our son ready for daycare.

Before you head back to work, sit down to make a plan but remember that it may need to change.

Who is going to take time off work when your baby is sick?

How are you going to handle daycare drop offs and pick ups when you or your partner are sick?

Is an eight o’clock start time realistic when daycare doesn’t open until seven thirty?

Believe me! The more you can plan for these challenges before they happen, the easier it will be.

Requesting flexible work? Be sure to think it through. 

The most common thing I advise my clients on is really thinking through their flexible work requests before they bring them to their employers. 

There are many ways to create flexibility at work – this could mean starting and ending your work a little earlier, working four longer days instead of five, switching to part-time, etc.

Before you and your employer commit to flex work, take some time and think about what this new arrangement will really look like for you.

Is working four 10 hour days really going to be less stressful? Is it really going to be part-time or are you already feeling guilty and know you’ll be tempted to log in after your little one goes to bed to answer emails?

Make a few sample schedules and see what they feel like when you really dig into them!

Remember, this too will pass.

I always refer to the first few months back at work after a parental leave as “being in the thick of it.” It really can feel overwhelming getting back into the flow of work with all the emotions, changes and stress of getting your family used to a new routine.

Just remember, it will not feel like this forever. I promise.

I always suggest giving it three weeks. That’s just 21 days. Give your family some time to adjust, then assess how you are feeling before making any major changes.

For more great tips and advice from Allison and our team of experts, check out the My Parental Leave course.