Erica returned to work after her maternity leave and almost immediately burst into tears upon reaching her office. However, her co-workers knew that the transition might be difficult for her and had planned a welcome back party. The small celebration helped lift Erica’s spirits on her first day back.
While you may not be as lucky to have a welcoming party upon your return, rest assured that many mothers are able to enjoy a positive return to work after their maternity break. At Picniic, we know that returning to work after maternity leave can bring mixed feelings for many moms including feelings of guilt, anxiety, happiness, and excitement. You may wonder how your baby is doing while you’re working or struggle to say goodbye to a crying baby in the morning. You worry whether the baby is eating well or might feel nervous about adjusting to a new childcare provider. No matter how you’re feeling, preparing yourself mentally and in practical ways will be key to enjoying a successful transition. Here are our top tips for making sure that your transition back to work goes smoothly:
Once you’ve returned to work, even if you’re working part-time, your time at home will be diminished drastically. The time you do have at home will be time you’ll want to spend with your precious new baby and other children if you have them. This means you will have limited time for tasks like cleaning, cooking, and laundry. While you can’t get ahead on laundry, you can get ahead with cooking!
Plan ahead to make the transition a bit softer by making meals to freeze ahead of time. You’ll be so glad to come home from work to simply defrost some soup and slice up a loaf of bread you picked up on your way home instead of cooking up a full meal. You can also use Picniic’s meal planner to schedule meals for your first few weeks back at work so you don’t have to think about what to eat. The mental energy required for parenting a newborn is staggering, so you’ll be glad to have completed this task ahead of time.
You should also plan your wardrobe ahead of time. Did you have great work outfits you loved before you went on maternity leave? Make sure you try them on before the day you head back in to work. Having a baby means big changes for your body and your clothes may not fit the same way as they did pre-baby. Planning ahead will save you headaches if you can’t find clothes in your closet that fit well as you’ll still have time to shop for appropriate work clothes.
Have a Backup Childcare Plan
Making sure you have a childcare plan in place is on every parent’s list of to-dos once maternity leave is up. But, do you have a backup plan in place as well? If you plan on using a daycare or infant center, some may have the occasional professional day or close on holidays when you’ll still be required to work. Other centers may have strict sick policies that mean your child won’t be allowed to attend if they have a cold. If you’re using a nanny or babysitter, you may struggle with what to do if your babysitter is sick as well.
You should have a few options prepared that will help you deal with these scenarios when they come up. If you plan to take personal days when your child is ill, it’s important that you know what your workplace policy is ahead of time so that you know exactly what to expect and how many days off you have available.
Don’t Go Back on a Monday
Resist the urge to work a full week right from the get go. If possible, ease your way in by planning your first day back to be a Wednesday or even a Thursday. By starting off with a short work-week, you’ll give yourself the chance to get used to going to work a bit more slowly. A full work-week can be tiring even for people who don’t have children, so it’s understandable that you may feel a bit overwhelmed if you start with a full week. Cut yourself some slack by requesting to begin mid-week.
Make Arrangements to Pump if You Plan to
If you’re a mom who breastfeeds, you will likely need to pump while you’re at work to keep your supply up and avoid leaking. This will also supply you with the breastmilk your baby will drink while you’re at work. Discuss how this will work with your employer and colleagues who’ve done it before you go back so that you know exactly what to expect. There should be a quiet, private room (not the bathroom!) where you can go to pump.
Make your arrangements and the expectations clear ahead of time so that your supervisor knows not to bug you or schedule a meeting during your pumping time. With the arrangements in place, you’ll feel confident to pump when you need to.
Raising a child is no easy task. Managing working and parenting is a delicate balance you’ll get used to over time. Accept your emotions as they come and seek support from family members and friends. Remember, everyone, experiences things differently. Some moms feel excited about going back to work while others dread it. Others worry about their baby and still other mothers suffer with guilt and anxiety. Be patient with yourself as you make your transition. With time, everything should fall into place. Make changes and adjust your plan as necessary until you’re comfortable with your routine.
Transitioning from maternity break back to work can be difficult, but it can also be very rewarding. You’ll engage in your workplace again and think about things beyond diaper changes and burping the baby. Yet, you’ll still be able to go home and cuddle your bundle of joy and enjoy your role as a mother. By planning ahead and making sure that your expectations are clear, you can enjoy a smooth transition back to work.
Have you already been through a transition from maternity leave back to work? What are your suggestions for making the change easier? We’d love to hear from you!