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Going back to work after parental leave can be a time full of anxiety, worry, stress, uncertainty and panic. But it can also be a time of new beginnings, excitement, adrenaline and relief.

No matter how you are feeling, here are 10 tips for parents who are preparing for a confident return to work after parental leave.

1. Spend some time revisiting your strengths

Consider what your uniqueness brings to an organisation – remember that your employer is lucky to have you. Your strengths still exist even if you have had a break from the workplace. Remind yourself of these when you are lacking in confidence.

2. Recognise that you have developed new valuable skills

You might now be better at prioritising, more empathetic or a better listener. Think about how your new skills can translate back into the workplace and own your brilliance. 

3. Rediscover your identity by getting clear on your core values

If you know what these are then you will have greater awareness about what is important to you and it will help you make decisions. Do some brainstorming or talk it through with a coach or friend. Aim to have a shortlist of five.

4. Manage your guilt to a level that suits you

Now that you are a parent, there is a whole new raft of emotions that comes with that responsibility. Trying to get rid of guilt all together could be setting you up for failure. Acknowledge that it exists and remind yourself why work is important to you and your family in a bid to manage it to an appropriate level.

5. Don’t overfill your stress bucket

Have a look at all of the things that you may have been doing on parental leave that you now won’t have the capacity to do. For example, childcare, shopping, food planning, etc. Get your support network in place and start delegating tasks out.

6. Consider phasing your return to work

You may have the opportunity to work on a part time basis to begin with, or you could use some holiday to have one day of the week off. Another thing you could do is start mid-week so that your first week back is a short one.

7. Have a dry run

Get your morning and evening operating rhythm nailed down. Practise how you are going to get all of you showered, dressed and out of the house on time. 

8. Use keeping in touch days wisely

You may be eligible to work up to 10 paid days during your parental leave (always check with your employer first). Plan how you may want to spend these – it could be networking, attending a conference, training or meeting with your line manager to discuss your return to work. It doesn’t have to be a whole day, even a half day or couple of hours would count as a whole kit days. 

9. Prepare in advance for conversations you may need to have

Write down what you want to say, be specific, offer a solution, use factual language. Practise what you are going to say.

10. Work out who is going to look after your child if they are sick

Its normal for children to catch a cold or a bug when they are in a new childcare setting, so if you can arrange for someone other than you to be on back up if your child falls ill you can hopefully guarantee a couple of distraction free weeks back.

For more support with your return to work consider working with a coach who will be able to provide you with bespoke 1-1 support and enable you to thrive in your work and life.

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