By Kim West, LCSW-C, The Sleep Lady®
Whether you took a few weeks or a few months off work, when the time comes to head back to the office, most moms feel intimidated and overwhelmed. It’s normal to have fear regarding how you will balance your home and work life and to worry about leaving your baby.
While no one can completely prepare for this stage, there are lots of preparations you can make to ease the transition for you and your baby. Here are some tips from moms that have gone before you swear by:
Before You Return
- If you have a nanny come to your home, have them over while you are still on leave a few times. Go through baby’s routine, show them where everything is, and observe them with your baby to alleviate your nerves.
- If using a daycare, do a trial run to practice getting out the door and having baby dropped off on time. Go ahead and drop him off for a bit too, to prepare yourself for how that will feel.
- Meet with your boss to discuss how your transition back will look. Ask for leniency in start time, if possible. You may also try to build up to a full work week – starting with 3 days a week and working up to full time.
- Make freezer meals. You’ll be exhausted those first few weeks. Give yourself more time to focus on baby in the evening by having meal prep done in advance.
The First Days Back
- Return to work towards the end of a week. This allows you a short work week before a weekend of rest.
- Bring pictures of your baby to decorate your workspace. Spend time that first day rearranging and catching up before you tackle big projects.
- Know it’s normal to feel emotional about this transition. If you need to sneak away to cry, do it!
- Do not hesitate to call and check on your baby. The nanny or nursery worker understands the difficulty of being away. Don’t worry about annoying them if you need reassurance that your baby is doing well.
Routine is Key
- Get everything prepared the night before – diaper bag packed, your lunch prepared, clothes laid out, and bags gathered. Taking time to do this will alleviate morning stress.
- Add at least 15 minutes to your morning routine. Giving yourself that time makes an extra diaper change, rough drop off, or heavy traffic a non-issue.
- Try not to schedule important work meetings early in the morning. If possible, give yourself time to settle in and shift into professional mode each day.
Give Yourself Grace
- No matter how others make it look, being a working mother is hard! Take it one day at a time.
- Find a group of other working moms who can support you with empathy.
- Be flexible! Life will not always go as planned.
- Enlist help from others – let dad do drop off, hire a house cleaner, and learn to let a few things slide.
- Know that wanting to go back to work and not being upset about stepping away from your baby is normal too!
Ultimately, every family handles this transition differently. Remember that it will take time to find your groove as a family. You won’t have it all figured out the first day. There will be days you are sad to leave and days you can’t wait to get out the door. Embrace this new life stage and enjoy it – both the mothering side and the working side!
Do you have more questions for Kim? Leave them in the comments below!