If you’ve spent several months, a year or more on maternity leave or shared parental leave, the thought of going back to work is likely to be a daunting prospect whether you’re looking forward to it or not. It might be that you’re:
It’s a huge adjustment going from working to maternity leave and becoming a mother and then another big transition returning to work as a working parent – it’s a lot to manage emotionally, psychologically and practically.
This is where keeping in touch days (KIT days) or shared parental leave in touch days (SPLIT days) can come in to help you ease the jump from maternity leave or shared parental leave to being back at work.
In the UK, employees can work up to 10 paid days during their maternity or adoption leave (these are KIT days) and up to 20 days during their Shared Parental Leave (these are SPLIT days). These days are not compulsory so both you and your employer need to agree to them and what work will be done during them.
You can find out more about KIT and SPLIT days on GOV.UK or talk to your employer about them.
If you’re dreading the thought of leaving your little one or just returning to work in general, choosing to work while you’re still on maternity leave might be the last thing you want to do. But if you do, you may well find it a positive experience and help you to overcome some of the doubts and worries you’re feeling about going back to work.
Maintaining communication with your manager and colleagues
Set up meetings with the key people you work with so you can keep up to date with what’s going on with them. It’s a good idea to prepare for these catch ups so think about what questions you want to ask and if there’s anything in particular that you need to discuss.
A lot can change in a few months – colleagues might have left the company and new people joined, there might be a new system implemented or a big new project being worked on. All of this can be a shock and take time to get up to speed on if you’re not prepared for it. KIT or SPLIT days can be great for getting up to speed so you know that you are prepared for when you do return to work.
KIT or SPLIT days can include any work that you would normally do as part of your employment and that includes attending a training course. So whether it’s training that your team is attending or something individually, this could be a great opportunity to build your skills, knowledge and confidence while you’re still on maternity leave.
Getting ready and out of the house is a whole different ball game when you have a baby or toddler in tow. Your baby might not be attending the childcare setting during a KIT or SPLIT day that they will once your maternity leave has finished, but it’s a good chance to see what it’s like getting yourself and them ready for the day ahead.
Also, if you’re dreading the thought of leaving you little one then spending just a few hours apart at this stage might be beneficial in the long run so that you’re not having to face it for the first time on your first day back at work when you’ve got so much else going on at the same time.
When there’s been a big build up to you returning to work the last thing you want to have to be dealing with on your first day back is IT issues. So whether it’s making sure you still remember your login details or you need to reset passwords, a KIT or SPLIT day provides a good opportunity to make sure this is all sorted ahead of your return.
Refamiliarising yourself with your commute, your colleagues, your office and so on should help with making you feel more comfortable when it comes to thinking about getting back to your job again. Additionally, if leaving your baby for the first time is something that has been worrying you, a KIT or SPLIT day could be a gentler way to ease you both in to spending a little bit of time apart.
If you’re dreading your return to work then it may seem counterintuitive to opt to work a KIT or SPLIT day and they may not be available or the right thing for everyone. But if you are able and open to them, they could be a really helpful way of getting you feeling more confident about your return to work.
To ensure they are effective, the KIT or SPLIT days need to be well thought out so that all sides get the most out of them. All the details including timings, what work is expected, payment and so on need to be agreed with your employer in advance.
What do you think? Is a KIT or SPLIT day something you would think about doing?
I’d love to hear your thoughts so send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
PS. If you want to return to work with confidence, download my free guide which has more tips and a journalling exercise.