Mindset Tips for Returning to Work After Maternity

Posted: Sunday May 8 2022

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

By Nicola Semple

Your maternity leave has disappeared in what feels like the blink of an eye, yet it seems like an eternity since your last day at work.

You have spent months making sure the arrangements are in place to allow your return to go as smoothly as possible.

You’ve agreed your working hours, organised childcare, stocked your freezer and unearthed your work wardrobe.

The day has come. It’s time to return and do your job.

For many women this is a daunting prospect.  In a MMB Returner survey of more than 1,000 women run by MMB Magazine – 72 per cent of whom worked at management level or above – less than a fifth (18 per cent) felt happy and confident about returning to work.

Adequate support from your organisation is vital for a smooth return to your role, however there are steps that you can take to manage your mindset and build confidence about your return.

  1. Identify Your Why

Why have you decided to return to your role after maternity leave? Perhaps:

  • Your career is a large part of your identity
  • You want to be a role model for your child and show them that it is possible to have a successful career and have a family
  • Your motivations are purely financial, and you need to return to work to put food on the table or to 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 and that reason needs to stay front and centre of your mind to keep you motivated.

Realistically, there will be moments when you question whether you have made the right decision to return to work. At this point you need to focus on why your why and use that to gain perspective.

# Mindset Tips for Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

  1. Remember Your Value

Many women worry that ‘baby brain’ has robbed them of the ability to string a coherent sentence together, never mind return and perform in their previous role.

Having a baby does not automatically erase your memory of your experience, skills and qualifications. It’s all still there, even if you haven’t accessed it for a while.

You may find it helpful to create your own Appreciation Log. Set up a new folder on your computer and gather all the 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 but 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, it also takes a village to support a mother. Get clear on who you want to be in your village.

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. From a professional perspective, you may decide to work with a coach to support you through the return to work process.

Your role models – the people that have walked this path already. This could be a senior leader 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 that are going through the same thing as you and ‘get’ the issues that 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 things that go wrong rather than the 90% of things that go right.

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 important to recognise your wins, even your micro-wins.

Grab a notebook or use the notes in 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 are able to succeed in your role. The more your belief grows, the more this will be reflected in your outward behaviour


  1. Acknowledge That You Are Not Superwoman

You are incredible. You have created and grown a whole other human being and loved and nurtured that human being.

You are not Superwoman and you don’t need to be either.

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”. 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