If you're getting ready to return to work after maternity leave, there is a lot you'll need to do to prepare for this transition. You are about to navigate a huge change in your daily routines. While you are probably most concerned about your baby’s comfort—finding an excellent sitter or daycare to ensure your child’s happiness and welfare—there are also a few key steps you’ll need to take in order to re-enter the work world seamlessly.
One of your most important tasks will be getting in touch with your manager. Depending on how effective your human resources department is, your manager may or may not be aware of your precise return date. Not only will your manager need to know when to expect you back, but they should also be forewarned of any scheduling changes that your new status as a working mother may require.
Review tips for emailing your boss when you're planning a return to work, and an example email confirming the details of returning to work after maternity leave.
Tips for Emailing Your Boss
Email is the easiest and most efficient way to reconnect with your manager. Some of the details you'll want to include in your note include:
- The day you plan to return to the office
- Any lifestyle changes that will affect your schedule (e.g., you'll be pumping twice a day, you'll need to leave the office early because your day nurse is leaving, etc.)
- A request to meet with your boss prior to your first day back (it's optional, but it could make your transition back to work easier)
Do remember that while your baby and new schedule may take precedence in your own life, your manager likely doesn't want to know too many intimate details. And, while your newborn is the most central aspect of your life, for your manager, your ability to perform your job is the most important element of your return to the workplace.
Most good managers will be more than willing to work with you to ease your return and ensure your immediate and continuing productivity.
Sample Email Message to Discuss Your Return to Work
The following sample email can be adapted to fit your unique situation and relationship with your manager.
Subject: Return to Work Update for Sarah Coleman
I am getting excited about my return to the office. My maternity leave is winding down, and after speaking with Human Resources, [Month DD, YYYY] will be my first official day back in the office.
Do you have time to meet for coffee the week before my return? It would be helpful for me to catch up on the latest projects and be filled in on your priority tasks for me. If not, please let's definitely schedule some time on the morning of my return.
In the meantime, just a few notes regarding details about my first few months back in the office. I'll be pumping, and Carolyn Smith in HR has already let me know where to go. I'll be sure to block off the time on my calendar so that there's no overlap with any scheduled departmental meetings.
On Thursdays, I'll be arriving at the office early but will have to leave at 4:30 p.m. to get home in time to pay my day nurse. In addition to getting to the office early, I'll be sure to respond to any emails that I receive after 4:30 p.m., so nothing falls through the cracks. Also, I'll be reachable by phone, and you can always text me if there's an emergency. Please let me know if you think this slight schedule change is a problem.
I am looking forward to getting back to work and will see you soon.
Making a Decision Not to Return to Work
Many parents find it difficult to make the decision to leave their young baby in the care of others after maternity leave. Sometimes this is necessary if the family needs the income. Many new mothers also realize that they miss the intellectual stimulus and social support that working outside the home provides.
However, other mothers who had every intention of returning to work realize during their maternity leave that they really want to stay at home for a while longer with their child. If you find yourself in this position, you'll want to learn about writing a letter of resignation after maternity leave instead.