If you're about to head on maternity leave, you're most likely feeling both excited and nervous about welcoming your new arrival. However, heading off on maternity leave isn't as straightforward as it seems. Let's take a look at some top tips to ensure you can actually enjoy this special time with your baby without being stressed about work. (We've thrown in some advice for going back to work for good measure too.)
Get organised early
Once you've told your boss you're pregnant, make sure you find out what kind of maternity leave you're entitled to and how long your job will be held for you. Once you know this, you can focus on tying up any work you have well in advance of your finish date. Remember, your baby could arrive earlier than expected as well, so start cc'ing your coworkers in on emails and invite them along to meetings well in advance.
Decide if you're going to stay in touch
Do you plan on stepping back completely, or are you still going to answer occasional calls and emails? You need to determine this before you leave - it's no use telling your co-workers they will be able to reach you if they need to, only to never answer the phone when they call. Staying in touch with work - even just checking in one day a week - can actually help ease you back in once your maternity leave is over, so it's not a bad thing. Ultimately, make sure you set boundaries and make your intentions clear from the start.
Give yourself time to settle back in
Once you do start back at work after your maternity leave ends, it's important not to throw yourself in at the deep end. If you decided to completely take a step back during your maternity leave, keep your out-of-office response switched on for the first couple of days. This will give you the chance to read your e-mails and catch up with your co-workers. Remember, they've managed without you for this long, so staying under the radar for a couple of days isn't going to hurt.