Making the Transition Back to Work Post-Leave

Mom kissing baby girl

Try our six tips to set yourself up to be a present parent at home and stellar employee at work. Make your transition a smooth one.

  1. Take some time to get back up to speed. Save the thousands of emails in your inbox for another day and, instead, focus on the top priorities. Depending on the length of your leave, things may have changed while you were out. Find out what’s been going on in your department — new clients, new employees, and new projects, clients and employees who moved on, and any successful projects and big achievements. And be sure to thank your staff, colleagues, and manager for filling in for you and reconnect with key stakeholders.
  2. Work out the logistics. A new routine takes tweaking, especially a new routine with a baby. If you’re constantly running late in the morning, think about what else you can do the night before instead. Have you changed your schedule at work? If you’re going into the office earlier (and leaving earlier), be transparent and be sure to communicate your contributions so you don’t get caught in the middle of other people’s assumptions. And discuss responsibilities and schedule changes with your co-parent — and divide and conquer.
  3. Reestablish yourself. Be confident — it is possible to feel just as strong in your career as you did before you went out on leave. Consider how to demonstrate your strengths and your commitment. Think about what “quick wins” you can achieve and cement in people’s minds that you’re back and still able to get things done.
  4. Talk about your future. Connect with your manager and make sure your priorities are clear. What do you want at this point in your career? Communicate your interests — are you willing to take on more responsibilities? Are you able to travel? If so, the last thing you want is for your manager to assume that he or she is doing you a favor by giving projects and assignments to other people.
  5. Beware of burnout. In the midst of it all, don’t forget about yourself. And remember that it’s okay not to be perfect at everything at the same time. Make time for self-care — even if it’s just five- to ten-minute increments — rely on family and friends for support, and be sure to disconnect from work when you’re at home, at least for a period of time.
  6. Embrace the best of both worlds. You’ve heard of work-life balance, but instead of trying to balance, aim for work-life enrichment to make each part of your life even better. When you have an aggravating day at work, enjoy going home to your baby. When you’re craving adult conversation, keep in mind that you can engage with your peers in the office each day. And remember that your time is precious. Stay committed to your job, but maintain your boundaries and be sure to set expectations — at home and at work.

With a new baby at home, re-entering the workforce and resuming your career can be overwhelming — and even intimidating — but it doesn’t have to be! Follow these six tips to set yourself up for success.

Webinar: Life as a New Working Parent

Learn specific techniques for your new routine as a working parent, including juggling new responsibilites, maximizing your time, handling guilt, and more on transitioning back to work.

Bright Horizons
About the Author
Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
Mom kissing baby girl