Most parents agree that bringing a baby into the world could be the most beautiful, satisfying thing you can ever do. Spending time with the little one, enjoying every moment, soaking in all the baby smell, witnessing all the milestones, what could be more incredible? But after all this time of pure bliss (and often pure fatigue) comes the moment when (almost) all moms go back to work.
The thoughts about this are often of anxiety, fear, and questions like “will my baby nap without me?”, “what if they won’t love me as much?”, “How will I be able to focus on work when my baby is at daycare?” and many others will start to run through your head. Going back to work is not the end of the world, and as much as you fear it, you will learn to accept it as is and believe that your baby will thrive continuously, even without you there all the time.
So, what are the steps to follow before going back to work, and what to expect once you’re back in the office?
Make a solid plan and stick to it.
Going back to work means that you’ll have to make adjustments to your daily routine. This could mean preparing your and baby’s clothes the day before, meal prepping, changing the waking up/going to bed hours, and others. Start thinking if you want to enroll your baby into daycare or do some research on babysitters. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your little one with strangers, talk to your parents/parents-in-law to stay with your little one during your work hours. Having a well-thought plan is the most important part when considering going back to work, and sticking to it at least till you accommodate is an excellent idea.
Gt your baby accustomed to the idea of spending time without you.
Returning to work after maternity leave is a huge adjustment for the other members of your family, not just for you. So start small every day. Leave your baby in the care of his father, grandmother, or a babysitter that you trust, for at least an hour every day. During this time, you could run some errands, clean the house, shop for groceries, or simply enjoy a coffee with a friend. Your little one will see that they will not be deprived of love in your absence and will be just as well taken care of as before. As they will get accustomed to being without you, increase the time you spend apart until you are both comfortable with the new situation. You might find that your batteries are recharged after the separation, and you will enjoy the time together even more.
Start work gradually.
If it’s possible, start with a few hours a day while your baby accommodates to daycare or wherever they might spend time while you’re away. Some employers could be open to the idea of a “soft return,” and you will slowly increase your time at work until you reach the target hours per day/week. This will work well in your favor, as you will learn again how to focus on your job and prioritize the essential tasks, to make the most out of your limited time in the office.
Consider working from home.
If you could do your job from home, you might want to consider turning into a full-time or at least part-time work from home mom. Even if for just one day a week, this compromise could make the transition easier, or it could turn into a great arrangement for everybody involved. Remote work is excellent in terms of flexibility and improvement of work-life balance, and it might be the right thing for a new mom returning to her job after maternity leave.
Put your new skills to value in the workplace.
When becoming a parent, a new set of skills are quickly developed as your life changes. Suddenly, you become the daily planner of one or more little people, the money manager of a growing family. You learn how to do chores faster, more efficiently, and keep everybody entertained along the way. These competencies are obtained with experience and time, and they will help you even in other areas of your life, such as work. As you return to the office with a great desire to work, put your new skills to good use and get all the credits for it!
Know your breastfeeding rights.
In more than 65% of countries worldwide, mothers are entitled by law to take remunerated nursing breaks or a reduction of working hours. If this is something you’d be interested in, talk to your employer and do some research on the matter, so you and your baby can benefit from this support received by the law.
Seek out help from other working moms.
Although your family and friends are there for you during this new situation you’re dealing with, other mothers going through the same thing as you can relate perfectly. Before or after you’ve returned to your job, if you have anxiety, trouble adjusting, or just need a shoulder to cry on, get yourself a friend that is or was in the same position. If you don’t know other moms, try hanging out more in children’s parks or simply initiate a conversation with other women at daycare. Having a support group that understands what you’re going through is essential for your mood and mental health.
Be kind to yourself.
After returning to work, maybe your house will not look as neat as before, the dishes won’t always be in the right cupboard, or the clothes folded perfectly after each washing cycle. And that’s ok. Now that you’ll have your job to “squeeze in” your already busy schedule, you’ll probably prioritize what seems most important to you. It’s hard being a working mom, and it’s only normal that not everything gets done around the house all the time.
There is a saying that goes like this:
“Your children won’t remember how clean your house was; instead, they will remember how much fun they had playing in your home”.
So, always be kind to yourself. Almost all moms have a hard time, they’re tired and busy and drink their coffee cold. But, always remember that you’re doing a great job, in the office and at home, no matter what!