Friday 03 June 2011 by By Jill Sikkens

Deciding when to start your maternity leave is always tricky. I think most people try to work as long as possible, to ensure you have as much time with the baby as possible. But, as the big day gets closer being at work becomes more of a physical, as well as mental, challenge. Quick often it is your focus that leaves before you find yourself limited physically.

In Holland, mothers are required to finish work at least 4 weeks before their due date, and can opt for as much as 6 weeks. However, after the first week off you may be regretting your decision to “nest” for a month. There’s only so much to get ready and I found working gave me a nice distraction as we waited for the baby to arrive.

Whatever timeframe you decide to go with, try to decide relatively early on so that you can manage your handover effectively. There’s nothing worse than feeling stressed and overwhelmed during those last few days in the office. Focus on your core activities and make sure that any special projects have been clearly delegated to an appropriate colleague. Depending on the size of your organisation, you may find that some aspects of your job will just have to be parked until you get back.

Overall, whether it’s getting ready for the baby or managing life away from the office, the main thing is to stay relaxed. You are going to need your energy for helping the baby arrive, as well as the days and weeks that follow. Don’t waste time worrying about things that aren’t important, or even critical. The office will manage. It’s hard to believe it now but once that little bundle of joy arrives your mind will be anywhere but in the office.

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