For most new parents, the question ‘when should I go back to work?’ will come up eventually, if it hasn’t already. And the short answer is: every situation is different. There’s no right or wrong time to go back to work after having a baby, it all comes down to your personal circumstances. Some factors affecting your decision to re-enter the workforce might include your finances, family situation, the conditions of your maternity or paternity leave with your employer, and the needs of your child.
We spoke to some parents about their decision to return to work to get the best tips, advice and general words of encouragement (because those never go astray).
Ease back into working life
Working mum Bec advises that any parent returning to the workplace should give themselves time to ease into it. “Start back part-time if that is an option. Returning to work can feel like starting a completely new job, only you have so much extra responsibility at home, so it can take time to adjust to your new routine.”
If you’re a new parent returning to work and you’ve been with your place of employment for more than 12 months, you might be able to negotiate flexible working arrangements with your employer, such as:
- Working different hours, like starting earlier or later in the day
- Working from home, if your role allows it
- Job sharing, so you can decrease your hours to a part-time role and still retain your position.
If you’re a new mum returning to work while breastfeeding, you’re entitled to a quiet place at work to express and store your breast milk, and the time to do it – this is required by the Sex Discrimination Act. If any problems arise with your employer, the Working Women’s Centres and the Fair Work Ombudsman can provide useful information and support.
Listen now: Vanessa is a new mum transitioning back into the workforce. Like many new parents she’s having to adapt to a new morning routine.