What to expect at work

Although your first day back at work may feel somewhat overwhelming, you will probably be surprised at how quickly you return to a comfortable work routine. Again, planning and organization can make all the difference.

• Talk with friends and co-workers who have recently returned from a leave. How did they make the transition? How did they manage their time?

• As your return date approaches, you may want to reestablish some ties with your workplace. Are there any work-related papers or correspondence you would like to have sent to your home? Which co-workers can fill you in on recent news? It can be helpful to talk with your supervisor or anyone who has been handling your job responsibilities to get a better sense of what has happened in your absence.

• Keep in mind the feelings of anyone who helped with your job while you were on leave. It may be difficult for them to hand your work back to you, especially if it means a return to less challenging tasks. Try to communicate often about the work the two of you have shared.

• Planning your work will be even more important now that you are a parent. It can underscore your job commitment and protect you from stress overload as well.

- You may no longer be able to take advantage of working late to complete projects or meet deadlines. Set clear expectations with your co-workers about when you will, and will not, be available.

- If you are returning part-time, you may find that others—and even you—expect you to perform your old full-time work on a part-time schedule. Be realistic. Extra projects that were manageable under a full-time schedule may be impossible under a part-time one. Try to avoid squeezing in extra tasks at the cost of eating lunch or spending time with your family after work.

- Outline your work responsibilities and roughly estimate the number of hours per week you need to perform them. You may want to talk with your supervisor and co-workers about large projects or your job description.

• Returning to work after a leave can give you a new perspective on old problems. You may find that situations at work that seemed overwhelming no longer cause you the same level of stress. Your life has a different balance now with a baby in the picture.

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