Returning to work after maternity leave can be a much-dreaded thought. It is one of the more emotionally challenging aspects of being a new mom. Not only do we have to navigate all the practical sides: childcare, pumping at work, logistics, etc, but far worse are the emotional challenges of leaving your baby with someone other than you or your partner. It's quite literally heart-wrenching.
We've been brainstorming, and here are some of the tips that actually got us through that period and made the transition back to work a little easier mentally and emotionally.
With a little planning, it is possible to balance your responsibilities as a parent and your career and make sure everyone is happy while doing so.
1. Make sure you have a plan in place for childcare. This might involve hiring a nanny, enrolling your child in daycare, or asking a family member to help out. Also, consider your backup plan when a trusted childcare provider is not available. Nailing this first step is the key to being more relaxed going back to work and that is important for both mom and baby.
2. Communicate with your employer about your return to work date and any changes to your schedule or responsibilities that you may need. Do you need flexible work arrangements, such as working from home or adjusting your hours, to accommodate your new family responsibilities? Now is the time to talk about that. Easing back into your routine gradually with shorter days or working part-time at first to allow you and your baby to adjust could make the transition easier on both of you.
3. Make plans for how you'll pump breast milk at work (if that's something you plan to do). Make sure you will have a private space by asking HR, prior to your return. Be sure to have a photo of your LO at the ready to make the milk letdown a little easier.
3. Prepare yourself emotionally for the transition back to work. Separation anxiety is common, so it's important to be gentle with yourself and your baby during this time.
4. Start by leaving your baby with a trusted caregiver for short periods of time, and gradually work up to longer separations.
5. Take care of yourself by getting enough rest, eating well, and exercising.
6. Talk to other Moms. Perhaps there is another mom at your company that recently went through the same experience. It is possible she will have some very specific tips for you.
With some preparation and support, you can successfully navigate the transition back to work and continue to thrive as a working parent.
Remember, it's normal to feel overwhelmed or emotional during this time. Read that again and REALLY absorb it. It will not be easy, especially in the beginning. Take it one day at a time and celebrate your successes, both at work and at home.