Grace through change: returning to work after maternity leave

This post is not about babies or mothering or priorities or meaningful work or difficult decisions or finances or getting a tribe or a therapist or setting expectations or negotiating flexibility or guilt or feminism or all the things I promise I’ll write some day.

This post is about grace through change. Because regardless of who you are, the truth is that returning to work after maternity leave generally feels like a massive and terrifying change (even if you’ve never been more excited to get to work!).

I have this friend who actually claims that she loves change. I’m like, what?

Not that I don’t like change. I mean, of course, I am obsessed with personal development and evolving as a human being and that is all change, all the time.

But what about changes that shake up your world suddenly, like returning to work after maternity leave? Or adapting to any new routine (hello, back to school). Or moving and building up a repertoire of favourite spots in your new neighbourhood. Or moving in with a partner or going through a breakup. These are big changes. But good news: they usually feel bigger than they actually are. Here are some ways to handle them:

Honour that sh*t  

It’s happening. And it’s not easy. And you’re going to make it through. And in the meantime your going to get a little anxious. Just permit yourself to feel all of it. And cry or take a day or whatever you need to do to honour it and honour yourself moving through it. Change is not easy (except for my friend, #yougogirl). For most of us, it’s a challenge.

Lighten up 

I know, annoying. It’s like when you’re freaking out and someone tells you to relax. Not helpful. But try this: nothing is permanent, everything is a lesson, you’re on a journey, this change will come and go and soon it will be the new normal and you’ll be on to the next. The only sure thing in life is change. If you’re starting a new job, you’ll still have good and bad days, take vacation and spend time with your family and all the good stuff. If you’re moving, you’ll still eat breakfast every day (if you do that) and enjoy coffee (me) and find a nice place to go for runs (in my fantasy life). However big this change feels, it will not change everything; nothing is that powerful. So lighten up on the gravity of the situation.

Send that change some love 

Now if you’re like me, you might have some experience with catastrophizing that change to death. Like what is it going to feel like when you have to commute to work at 7am on a Monday in a blizzard in February and your kid is like “no mommy, don’t leave. why don’t you love me?”… Let’s just put that in perspective for a moment: that’s an imaginary thing that may or may not happen. So instead, think of some good things that are going to come out of the change and send it some love that way. Like how much reading you’ll be getting done during that commute. Or the amazing coffee you’ll be picking up every morning on your way into the office.

Change is actually good 

Because you’re going to grow! Baby, you’re going to grow so much from this. It’s going to hurt some days but it is going to take you somewhere you would not have been able to go without it. Even if it’s quickly out of this job and into another, or back home to care for more babies or into your own business or who knows? This change is a step on your path. It is actually good. Courage pants on. Hand on heart. Bring it on!


If you are heading back to work after maternity leave and want to talk it out, get in touch with me here.


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