Planning to return to life after maternity leave is usually difficult for moms – but so many of us have to go back to work. I continued working after I had my first child, and after my second I was able to stay home. Now, after two years being home full-time with my little ones, I am heading back to the office part-time. Here are some tips to make the transition back to work smoother and slightly less painful.
Life After Maternity Leave
Do remember that this too shall pass
The feelings of sadness and guilt often associated with heading back to work will eventually be a little less heartbreaking. It will get better. I realize it may be nearly impossible to remember after your baby was up in the night to eat and your toddler was up after a nightmare – but hang in there. You can do it!
Do get everything ready the night before.
Waking up early doesn’t usually just happen, and having a long to-do list in the morning adds to the stress and chaos. Lay out an outfit (for yourself and every member of the family). Have lunches packed so you can just grab them and go. In between giving morning kisses to the kids and making an emergency diaper change, you’ll be thankful for every second you saved by getting things ready the night before.
Do prioritize rest.
It’s hard with the long list of things you need to accomplish, but just remember, the laundry can (usually) wait. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your spouse for help when possible. One of the biggest complaints of working moms is exhaustion, so aim to get to bed earlier so you can still get plenty of sleep if your children are up during the night. This one ranks high on the list of priorities.
Do set aside some “mommy time.”
Once you are back to work, it’s easy to put your friendships on the back burner. However, working mothers should maintain relationships with other moms. They help provide you with emotional support. Schedule regular get-togethers, with or without your children. Look for activities like a mommy-and-me class or a play date at a park.
Don’t stress about nursing.
If you are nursing your baby, this can cause a lot of stress and uncertainty as you return to work. Prior to returning to work, get your baby used to taking a bottle from other people so he doesn’t decide that only mommy will do and refuse bottles. Also, don’t stress over finding a comfortable place to pump. Most places of employment have a designated lactation room and a refrigerator. If not, speak to your boss about finding a private place where you can pump. Speak with your boss about a pumping schedule that works for both of you. You’ll need a few breaks each day to pump.
The first few months back at your job will be full of emotions and probably not easy. You may encounter days where you are ready to quit. Stick it out if you want or need to work; the new routine takes a while to get used to. If you still find yourself overwhelmed and unable to cope, consider speaking with your boss about working fewer hours, or working a day or two from home. Just make sure to come up with a concrete plan prior to approaching your boss. I hope you can find a healthy balance for you, your home life and your career!
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