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Make returning to work work for you

Returning to the world of work can be a scary thought, whether you have been out of that world for 6 months, a year, 5 years or more. And whether you are returning to a role and an environment that is familiar to you, or stepping into the unknown, it can still be daunting to put on your ‘professional’ hat after time away.



Photo by Joshua Coleman

Add into the mix worries about childcare, part time hours (but full time workload) and just maintaining some semblance of a relationship with friends and family and it’s no wonder that concerns around “going back to work” loom large among many of us.


Yet many people do return to work after a career break, and for most it is a case of reassessing priorities and creating new systems and processes to make day to day life function as it needs to. I’ve spoken to a few wonderful women who have made the leap back into the working world, and I’ve rounded up their top 5 tips below.



Photo by Markus Spiske

1. Childcare

It may seem obvious but try to consider all angles of childcare:

a. Who is the first point of contact for the nursery / childminder / nanny – does it need to be you, or would it be better to be your husband / other family member who would be closer?

b. What happens if your child / childcare provider is sick?

c. What happens if you get stuck on a train / in traffic and are late for pick up?


Having back up childcare may seem like a big effort but can be a lifesaver in tricky situations. There are agencies around that specialise in emergency childcare, and some workplaces even offer this as a benefit to employees, so it may be worth checking out.


2. Mindset

Think about why you are going back, and use that as motivation when things get tough. If you are working because you enjoy your job, then don’t be afraid to be open about that. If you are working primarily for the money, then consider what the money will allow you to do. Thinking of the positive sides of going to work will help you approach each day in a more upbeat fashion.



Photo by Marvin Meyer

3. Work role

Consider how your role is going to be impacted by your change in circumstances, and how the work you do may need to be adapted. For example, if you anticipate working in shorter bursts, outside of the office at unusual / unpredictable times, discuss with your manager how your role can evolve to encompass these changes, for example, taking on different projects or exploring new internal roles. And if something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to ask for help to make it work. Unfortunately some companies / environments are more flexible and willing to adapt than others, but unless you ask, you will never know.


4. Delegate – and not just at work!

Raising a family is hard work, and adding work into the mix just makes the situation more ‘interesting’ so wherever you can, outsource or delegate tasks to others to help you stay in control, and prevent you getting overwhelmed. For example, getting a cleaner, asking a colleague to help on a project or handing over your social committee role to another team member. Even asking a family member to do school / nursery pick up once a week could make a difference for you. Try to ensure you have enough flexibility in your schedule to cope with the unexpected – ill children, big deadlines, train strikes etc.


5. Protect yourself

You will be a much happier mummy (and employee) if you do what you need to do for you. Some tips I’ve heard around this include:

a. Scheduling an extra 30 mins between work and pick up to get a coffee and decompress from work

b. Using a creche on a Saturday morning to fit in some exercise. The kids will enjoy it and you get some ‘me-time’.

c. Schedule a protected “date night” with your OH on a regular basis even if its just a takeaway and telly.

d. Accept help when it is helpful but don’t be afraid to say no. Don’t put up with family invading unless you are actually getting some benefit out of it!


So there you have it. A few tips on returning to work, from those people who have been there, done it and survived. If this has been useful for you, why not head over to my Facebook group The Returnity Lounge where we discuss all things career related. If you want to discuss how we can work together 1:1 then please click here to drop me a message.

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