How to go back to work after maternity leave
You’ve had your baby, congratulations! You’ve enjoyed your maternity leave (where did it go?). And now, HR have sent the emails through and you are expected back to work in two weeks.
How will it be? How do you feel? How will you leave your baby/children each day? How will you get dressed before 9am in the morning, and, even more, what are you going to wear?
Are you going to go back to work and your boss is going to be younger than you?
Are you going back to work because of finances, not because that’s your choice?
Are you going back to work because you fear the relearning curve will be too big if you leave it too long?
In this blog post we take care of what you are going to wear and how you are going to plan out your work wear outfits to make life as easy as possible for yourself so that you can seriously nail your work look and concentrate on being a mother and being a great work colleague. We will also look at why your clothes have more impact on you than you think.
So let’s start. With one word. expectation.
How to go back to work – Why expectation is your back to work secret weapon
Expectation – is a strong belief that something will happen or take place. Your basic level of clothing expectation is that you are going to get dressed each day. Notching up that expectation level, what are you going to wear so that you look and feel great each day?
Going back to work: the Essential v luxury seesaw
Firstly, you need to set realistic ambitions so you don’t overwhelm yourself with everything that you need to prepare to go back to work. You’re going to be busy and have a new layer of organisation. Decide what you need, what your essentials are and maybe add on a “like” or “luxury” item into the mix. For example it may be simpler to have as many items that are washable, rather than hand wash, but you might have a dress, or shirts that you love which need to be handwashed. That’s fine as long as you don’t try and handwash every day, which, unless you have help in the house, is going to be a high level of commitment. Similarly, you may love high heels, as I do, but it might be too much to wear them every day. Or not? Please don’t let me stand in the way of you getting back onto those fab heels! The emotional boost you might give yourself could easily outweigh trying to run for a bus
Useful expectations to set around going back to work
So, the focus of this blog is that expectations can be set around what you are going to wear each day:
Top Tip 1 Which clothes you are going to wear and when
Depending on how long it is since the birth of your baby, or child, you may or may not be fitting into pre-baby clothes. So, firstly, you may need to work out which clothes you can wear and make sure you have enough to wear week on week.
A good level of expectation is to have your clothes read yto wear each day and to prepare them in advance, for example the night before. You don’t want to be scrabbling around in the morning at the same time as you’re getting the baby, or babies, or children, ready for the day too. If you can keep as calm as possible when you are getting up and getting ready you will stand a better chance of maintaining that callm throughout the day. We all know that feeling of panic and disorganisation which, once experienced in the morning, can continue throughout the day. Use your clothes as a habit which brings calm and order into your day.
Your primary need is to look like you are ready for work when you go to work. As you put those clothes on, the very act of pulling those clothes on can help you to get into work mode in your head.
This is what is known as enclothed cognition. You may have heard me mention this before.
Enclothed cognition is the phenomenon describing the effects clothing has on the cognitive process. So, simply put, your decision to set one of your necessary expectations as having clothes that fit you ready to wear each work day will have a second benefit, almost more powerful than the first, which is that in the act of wearing those clothes you will be more easily able to take transfer from mummy mode, to work mode. Wearing those clothes will empower you to enter the work place with confidence and with your brain engaged for work
Top Tip 2 What goes to work stays at wok
In this regard I would really recommend, if at all possible, that you keep your work clothes separate from your home clothes. Make your work clothes as enjoyable as possible to wear, put them away when you are wearing your home clothes, then you will look forward to wearing those outfits the next time it is a work day.
This will make the home/work transition much easier.
If you are a new mother, and going back to work for the first time after a baby, it can be a traumatic, probably exhausting, but hopefully hugely fulfilling time.
So that would be my one major expectation for you to set as a new mum returning to work: planning what you are going to wear and only wearing it on a work day.
Going back to work – taking it one step further
This could be enough, and it is enough. However, if you would like to set more expectations around getting ready each day here are some suggestions.
a. Also prepare what you are going to wear on a home day. A home day could be during the week if you work part-time or it could be the weekends if you are returning to work full-time, or a combination of both if you are working shifts. Whichever one it is for you why not plan your home day outfits. The reason I think this is a good idea is that it will help you:
b. Keep to a routine that you expect to getup and get dressed each day whether you are going off to work or are at home.
c. Feel more organised by being dressed.
d. Feel really proud of yourself for being dressed and your satisfaction with the day will automatically be set high from early on in the day. You can lay out your clothes the night before which is great and earns a huge thumbs up or you could just decide that a certain wardrobe of clothes is worn at home eg jeans/tee shirt/jumper. Make sure they’re clean and you’re good to go.
A final note. Easy grooming tips to complete your clothes transformation
I don’t want to overload you, especially if you are a new mum to a young baby, but if you want to take your level of expectation one step further then it could be around grooming. Say: hair, nails and make up. If you would like to go here here is a quick checklist of what you could address.
- Hair – if you have your hair cut regularly, just keep going with your hair appointments. Make sure you always have a next appointment to go to. Same with colour, just keep the appointments going. Decide when you are going to wash and dry your hair, night or early in the morning. I used to do mine in the morning and have the babies on the bed while I was blow drying my hair and doing my make up. Decide how you want your hair to look when you are at work and stick to it. Are you going to wear it up, in a bob, have it cut short? Try and keep it consistent. Rightly or wrongly that consistency in look will mark you out as reliable and capable at work.
- Make up – what level of make up do you want to wear each day? When you have a new baby, keep your grooming plan sleek and simple: for example: tinted moisturiser, eyeliner, mascara and a lip gloss and a bronzer or blusher would be perfect. Keep it really simple, but keep it consistent. At the moment my life is really busy so that is my daily routine.
- Finally, nails. Since I have had my children I have never consistently painted my nails but for some of you it will be a way of reconnecting to yourself. Or, rather than painting them you might have acrylics. However, it is possible to build into your routine. You could set yourself an evening when you know you are able to set the time aside – say Sunday night. Keep a small manicure set downstairs or in your bedroom, wherever you would paint your nails. If it is to hand, and viewable, you will be more likely to give yourself that time and attention.
Are you returning to work shortly after having a baby? Don’t worry, don’t be stressed. You’ve got this. Use your work clothes as part of your returning to work preparation, and upscale your confidence level from the outside in.
How did you find this blog post. Was it useful to you? Do you have top tips that you have used yourself? Leave your comments below.
Bye for now,