Don’t log on: how to switch off during parental leave

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Many expectant parents worry that they will find it hard to leave work behind once they go on parental leave.  Rest assured, once the baby comes along, for most people, these worries do fade into insignificance!

However, with many expectant mums taking several weeks off before the baby actually arrives, this period of transition from the role of professional to parent, is a golden opportunity.  However, do we use this ‘golden time’ effectively?  There is definitely a temptation to keep working during this time, but here are 3 reasons why you shouldn’t log back on:

  1. Your colleagues and your manager will find it confusing.  If you did a good handover and everyone knows what needs to be done in your absence, logging back in and responding to emails will confuse roles and responsibilities – especially if you have cover for your role and they have already started.  In fact, it may even make them feel like you don’t trust them
  2. You need this time to transition from a busy and possibly mentally stressful world to a world which in comparison suddenly seems very quiet, without structure.  For some this will feel like bliss, but for many (especially those who like to be busy) it will be really hard to ‘just be’.  Many are tempted to fill this period with a long list of to-do’s, which ultimately will distract you from the time you need to adjust and reflect on your next phase of life
  3. It will take you longer to de-stress.  You might think that a quick sneaky peek at your emails will do no harm – and maybe it won’t – but what if what you read makes you feel stressed or anxious?  Can you actually control anything now anyway?  The aim of a good handover and departure from work needs to be that you feel comfortable and happy that you have left work on a good note

Fast-forward to the latter part of your parental leave and things will look very different.  This is a great time for you to start reconnecting with work in a way which feels right for you.  People often ask us when a good time to make contact is and we usually say that each individual knows when the time is right – perhaps you start to feel anxious or excited about work; perhaps you are approaching your 8-week notice period where you have to let work know if your plans to return have changed.  Or maybe your manager or colleague has invited you in for a catch up…every situation will be different.

But, for now, if you’re an expectant mum, dad, partner or adopter, trust your handover plan and your cover and enjoy the rest!

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