There’s nothing more life-changing than a new baby. The world seems to stop when your little one arrives. And for six to eight crazy weeks, you probably don’t even know which end is up. You’re exhausted, scattered and can’t get enough of your little angel. So, how in the world are you going to go back to work?
Seven Tips for a Smooth Return from Maternity Leave
It’s a safe bet that never in the history of the world has a woman returned to work after having a baby and said, “This is easy.” But that’s OK. Because you’re strong, determined and have new “mommy superpowers.” You’ve got this! But just in case you need a little help, we have seven tips that can make this transition a little smoother.
1. Include Your Boss in the Planning — Early
Before heading back to work — or better yet, before starting maternity leave — schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss the plans and possibilities for when you come back. Is there potential for flexibility? Shorter or adjusted hours? Doing some work from home? Being on the same page as your employer and knowing that you’ve explored all options should give you — and your boss — peace of mind.
2. Start Back Slowly
Can you work shorter hours for the first week or two? If not, try leaving your baby with your childcare provider for a few hours a day the week before going back to work. It will help both of you adjust to some time apart. You’ll also get a sense of the schedule and have time to get things prepared for the big day. Also, instead of going back to work on a Monday, try to schedule your return date for Wednesday or Thursday, to make your first week back a short one.
3. Make Sure You’re “Primed” to Pump
If you’re planning to breastfeed, you need to make sure your work has a place you can pump before heading back. There are federal and state laws that require employers to provide time and space for new moms to pump. If you’re not sure what your office offers, talk to someone in Human Resources.
4. Treat Yourself
Guess what? Everything’s different now — including your body. Don’t add to your stress by playing the torture game of thinking you should be able to just jump right back into your old work clothes. Buy yourself some new outfits that fit well and make you feel great. And chances are, your hairstyle could use a little touch-up too. Sloppy ponytails that smell of baby spit-up aren’t going to cut it — even in the most casual workplace.
5. Don’t Forget to Eat
With all the added running around and craziness, you can forget the most basic things. We know that food is energy, and if there’s one thing you need right now, it’s energy! Be sure to pack healthy snacks to keep you going between meals. You might want to prepare a couple of dishes and freeze them for dinnertimes that sneak up on you. It also doesn’t hurt to have a couple of backup plans, like grocery delivery service and the number of your new best friend — the pizza man!
6. Show Off That Baby!
When you’re at work and the stress starts getting to you, you’ll love looking down and seeing a picture of the world’s cutest face staring back at you. There’s nothing unprofessional about having a picture or two of your family on your desk; just fight the temptation to build a shrine.
7. Accept and Embrace Your New Role
Working moms feel guilty. Stay-at-home moms feel guilty. Chances are, if you have a child, you feel guilty about something. That’s just a gift that comes with motherhood — lucky us! Take comfort and pride in the fact that you are giving your child the best possible life in this moment. Being a mom is incredible, but nobody plays just one role in life. It’s not only OK, it’s necessary for you to be your own person outside of being a mom. Taking care of yourself, working, spending time with friends — none of this makes you any less of a mom. In fact, the more complete, fulfilled and healthy you feel, the better mom you’ll be.