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Returning to work after parental leave with confidence and clarity

30 Jan 2018 | Carolyne Crowe


Returning to work can daunting - your return is likely to be filled with mixed emotions and some concerns. Carolyne addresses these feelings and creates a strategy to make a easier return to work.

Returning to work after parental leave with confidence and clarity Image

Returning to work after having children can be fulfilling and rewarding, but it isn’t easy.

It's natural that you will feel daunted. Nothing stays the same, so while your home life has changed immeasurably with a new addition to your family, your workplace will have changed too with new drugs being introduced or additional members joining your team. You probably won't feel the same person you did when you left for parental leave and you may be worried about how you will cope.

However, with a little planning and forward thinking and the support of your partner you can make working as a vet and being a parent work for both you and your practice.

Tips to get what you need from being a vet and a parent

Have a plan

Know why you want to return to work and have a plan that works for both you and your partner before you speak to your boss about returning to work.

Know your childcare options or arrangements so you know the hours you can work around. There is absolutely no point making plans that sound fine when you're in a meeting but that don’t work practically for you.

See what others are doing in your practice and ask them how it works for them.

Look at the job you do and see when your busy time is

For me as a stud vet, it was the mornings so to continue doing stud work I went back four mornings each week, but most of my friends went back for full days and this works well for them. If I hadn't been doing stud work, I would probably have done this too. By doing full rather than half days, I believe there are several benefits.

When you're at work you can concentrate on being at work for the normal amount of time, you'll have the normal ebb and flow of daily work, so you can get your paperwork and phone calls done in the quieter periods.

Don’t be afraid to say no

No matter when you finish, whether it’s 1pm or 5pm, there will always be things you have to say no to and it may often be stressful to leave the practice. What sort of team do you have? Is there flexibility in your childcare arrangements? Do you work alone in the practice or with others? Can others cover when your child is ill or you need to leave and a sick animal comes in?

What are you going to offer as a trade off for others helping you out? You need to make it work for you but not to the detriment of your colleagues or your relationships with them. You need a Plan B.

Have options

Speak to your boss and find out what the options are. If you think you'll want to do something different when you return to work, be prepared and have a well thought out plan of action. Know what the benefits for the practice are of you working the hours you want to work and present these first. Rather than saying how it will benefit you, show them how it will work better for them.

Take everything into consideration, look at the advantages and disadvantages of all the options. Create if-then plans for different scenarios so you know how you will tackle future challenging situations when they arise as you've already thought about them and have a back-up plan.

It may seem too daunting and too big an issue to deal with, leaving you feeling overwhelmed, but put time aside, sit down, breathe and think about what would work best for you and what your options are.

It's important to know what you want first, what your ideal outcome is, so you know what you can compromise on and which boundaries are fixed, but you will need to be flexible within those set boundaries so the practice is also benefiting from you returning to work.

Asking the questions

Do you know what is important to you? Do you need guidance and practical tools to help you identify what you want from your life and career as a working parent? Are you worried about coping with the emotions of returning to work, as well as managing anxiety, stress and feelings of guilt? Do you want to make every minute count by improving your time management skills? Have you thought about all eventualities, your Plan B and who will be in your 'support' team?

For help answering these questions and more, join me at BVA HQ on Tuesday 20 February for my Return to work with confidence and clarity course.

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