MAKE IT WORK

Af­ter four months of ma­ter­nity leave, pick­ing up your ca­reer from when you left off can seem daunt­ing. Here’s how you can have a smoother tran­si­tion.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - Contents -

Don’t be too afraid to take it at your own pace and find the right bal­ance be­tween work and fam­ily, with the sup­port of your spouse — and col­leagues, of course.

Tak­ing four months off from work may be one of the big­gest chal­lenges for many work­ing women.

Af­ter all, be­fore Baby came along, your long­est break from the of­fice had been, per­haps, two weeks long. Even then, re­mem­ber the amount of work you had to cover in ad­vance be­fore leav­ing for your hol­i­day, and how much you had to catch up on when you re­turned?

No won­der you’re feel­ing jit­tery at the thought of start­ing your ma­ter­nity leave, es­pe­cially when you’re ad­vanc­ing your ca­reer. But there is no rea­son why you can’t con­tinue to climb the cor­po­rate lad­der and be a good Mummy.

Read on for tips on how you can in­te­grate back into the of­fice en­vi­ron­ment seam­lessly and pick up right where you left off.

1 Be­fore you go on leave

Have a han­dover plan in place, de­tail­ing how your key ac­counts and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties are to be dis­trib­uted among your col­leagues.

Dur­ing your ma­ter­nity leave, main­tain ca­sual con­tact with them so you can keep up­dated on work de­vel­op­ments.

When you’re aware of what has be­ing go­ing on in your ab­sence – both work-wise and so­cially – the re­turn to work will be a much smoother one.

2 Or­gan­ise reg­u­lar meet­ings

When you’re finally back at work, plan reg­u­lar meet­ings with your team and man­agers to catch up on the on­go­ing projects and time­lines. A weekly dis­cus­sion with your boss dur­ing the first month will help iron out the kinks and raise any is­sues. Your proac­tiv­ity is also a pro­fes­sional move that your col­leagues will most prob­a­bly ap­pre­ci­ate.

The first week when you re­turn to work is a cru­cial one. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and get back on the same page as ev­ery­one else.

3 Opt for a phased re­turn to work

If pos­si­ble, re­quest for a phased re­turn to work. This usu­ally means work­ing for fewer hours or days dur­ing your ini­tial re­turn, with a grad­ual build-up to your orig­i­nal work hours. The ar­range­ment will al­low you to ease into the of­fice sched­ule while still at­tend­ing to your new­born’s de­mands.

If your em­ployer won’t al­low a flex­i­ble ar­range­ment, ne­go­ti­ate to use up your ac­crued leave dur­ing this pe­riod. This will not only help to re­build your work con­fi­dence, but will also al­low you to strike a bal­ance be­tween fam­ily and work life.

If you work in a more re­laxed and flex­i­ble en­vi­ron­ment, you can even ask to work from home in your first week or so.

Don’t be too afraid to take it at your own pace and find the right bal­ance be­tween work and fam­ily, with the sup­port of your spouse – and col­leagues, of course.

4 Know your rights

Legally, you have the right to re­turn to the ex­act same role and po­si­tion you were work­ing in be­fore your ab­sence. How­ever, if your or­gan­i­sa­tion makes sig­nifi­cant changes to your role dur­ing your leave, an­a­lyse the al­ter­na­tive role in de­tail and as­sess the cir­cum­stances.

If your em­ployer re­fuses to re­in­state your po­si­tion and job scope, be aware of your le­gal rights and seek help if you be­lieve you’ve been un­fairly treated. Find out more about your ben­e­fits and rights at the Min­istry of Man­power’s web­site (www.tinyurl.com/Ma­ter­ni­tyRights).

5 Se­lect your in­fant-care op­tions thought­fully

Should you hire a full-time nanny, do­mes­tic helper or en­rol Baby in an in­fant-care cen­tre near your home or of­fice?

Many child­care ar­range­ments re­quire you to book early; some even be­fore your baby ar­rives. Give am­ple time for this.

When you’re as­sured of your lit­tle one’s well-be­ing and safety, you’ll have peace of mind at work.

6 Stock up on nurs­ing essen­tials

An elec­tric pump is worth the in­vest­ment. Yes, it is ex­pen­sive, but it will have the job done in a quar­ter of the time of a man­ual one.

If price is an is­sue, you can look into rent­ing a pump, or buy­ing one sec­ond-hand.

You’ll need to buy new tub­ing, fun­nels, valves and bot­tles, but these are rel­a­tively in­ex­pen­sive com­pared to the cost of the pump it­self.

You should con­sider get­ting ex­tra fun­nels, valves and bot­tles for each time you will be pump­ing. Ster­ilise them at the start of the day and put each set in sep­a­rate clean, re­seal­able stor­age bags.

This way, you can pump your milk within a short pe­riod of time with­out feel­ing guilty about be­ing away from your desk, while not com­pro­mis­ing on steril­ity.

Af­ter pump­ing, sim­ply de­tach the used fun­nels, valves and bot­tles from the pump, give them a quick wipe with a wet wipe, and put them back in the stor­age bag to wash and ster­ilise at home.

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