Mindset Tips for Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

Posted: Friday September 10 2021

By: Abbie Coleman

Your maternity leave has disappeared in a blink of an eye, but it seems like an eternity since your last day at work.

Mindset Tips for Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

To make sure your return is going to go as smoothly as can be, you’ve spent a lot of time completing all the necessary arrangements.

You’ve agreed to your working hours with your employer, arranged childcare, filled up your freezer and rediscovered your work attire.

The day has come for you to return to work after maternity leave.

For many women, this is a daunting prospect. In a survey ran by MMB Magazine, out of 1,000 women, 72% worked at management level or above – less than a fifth (18%) felt happy and confident about returning to work after maternity leave.

When you’re returning to work after maternity leave, sufficient support from your workplace is essential for a stable return to your job. Nevertheless, there are steps available that you can take to manage your mindset and building belief on your return.

  1. Identify Your Why

Why have you chosen to return to your work after maternity leave? Perhaps:

  • You want to be a good role model for your child/children to show them that it is achievable to have a successful career and family.
  • Your job is a massive part of your life and identity.
  • Your motivations are purely financial, and you need to return to work to put food on the table or create a lifestyle that is important to you.

All these reasons are perfectly valid.

Get clear on what is true for you. You are returning to work for a reason. That reason always needs to be remembered and recycled so you can keep motivated.

There will be highs and lows in your job. There will also be moments where you question if you’ve made the right decision to return to work. At this point, you need to focus on why and use that to gain perspective.

There will be highs and lows in your job, and there will be times where you question if you’ve made the right decision to return to work. When this happens, you need to focus on why you’ve returned to work after maternity leave and use that to gain perspective.

#Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

  1. Remember Your Value

Sometimes women worry that ‘baby brain’ has stripped them of the ability to string an intelligible sentence together, never mind return and perform in their previous role.

Some people think that having a baby erases your memory of your experience, skills and qualifications—this isn’t true. Even though you haven’t accessed these for a while, they are still there.

Many women find it helpful to create an Appreciation Log. Set up a new folder on your computer and gather positive feedback that you have received in the past. You can use performance reviews, client feedback, customer recommendations, anything that highlights the positive contribution that you have made.

You are still that person.

Since becoming a mother, you may feel different. However, underneath the layers of muslin cloths, discarded vegetable puree and piles of washing, you are still you.


  1. Find Your People

They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to support a mother. So get clear on who you want to be in your village, so you have the best network around you.

Your support network

The people that can provide practical hands-on support at home when you need it. This could be your partner, family members, friends and childcare providers. In addition, you may decide to work with a coach to support you through the return to work process from a professional perspective.

Your role models

These people have walked this path already and who you look up to for guidance and support. Role models can be senior leaders within your organisation or your industry as part of a formal mentoring scheme. It could take the form of reading books, listening to podcasts or following social media accounts that cover balancing work and family life.

Your tribe 

The people going through the same thing as you and ‘get’ the issues you face. This could be existing friends with children of a similar age, friends that you have made because of attending baby groups or other members of your organisation that are also returning from maternity leave.


  1. Recognise Your Achievements

As human beings, we tend to focus on the 10% of wrong things rather than the 90% of right things.

New mums feeling daunted about returning to the workplace after maternity leave, fuelled by hormones and missing their little ones, tend to focus 100% of the time on the things that go wrong!

It’s essential to recognise your wins, even your micro-wins.

Grab a notebook or use the notes on your phone and take a few minutes each week to jot down what has gone well.

Start small. Turning up each day on time and staying until the end of the day is an achievement!

With each achievement, your self-efficacy will grow, in other words, your belief that you can succeed in your role. The more your confidence grows, the more this will be reflected in your outward behaviour.


  1. Acknowledge That You Are Not Superwoman

You are incredible, and you need to remember that. You have created and grown a whole other human being and loved and nurtured that human being.

You do not need to do everything and be all things to all people. There are only so many hours in the day, and you have a finite supply of energy. Prioritise what is important to you and use that as a guide to focus your attention.

And for those moments when it all feels like too much, give yourself one minute for this micro-practice.

Breathe in and tell yourself: “I’m doing my best”. Then, acknowledge and congratulation yourself on what you have been able to achieve.
Breathe out and tell yourself, “I let go of the rest”. Let go of any expectation that you should be doing more than you already are.

Read more advice for support in planning and undertaking your return to work here