Making a successful transition back to work after maternity leave is critical for both parents. It will be a challenge, but there’s no need to put your career on hold or struggle unnecessarily. Working while raising a family is manageable with the right advice and information.
Consider the following ideas to make the transition easier.
Before returning to work, decide on a return-to-work date.
Discuss with your employer possible options for how much time you can take for maternity leave. You might not have the luxury of deciding whether or not to return to work, but you can take as much time as you’re allowed. Choose a day to make your first week back a short one.
Talk with your boss.
Discuss your job duties and schedule so you know what’s expected of you when you return. Ask about flexible hours or working from home on occasion. Be prepared to suggest ways of creating a more flexible arrangement.
Plan ahead for child care.
The thought of leaving your newborn in someone else’s care can be troubling. Finding a reliable childcare provider can ease your mind. Your childcare options range from individual in-home care to a childcare center. Give yourself time to do the research.
Do a trial run.
If possible, begin childcare for several weeks before returning to work. Start with a couple of hours. Then slowly increase the time to allow you and your child to adjust.
Deal with your feelings.
Talk openly with your partner or a friend about your fears, joys, frustrations, or anxieties. Get as much rest as possible.
Relax and smile.
Most importantly, keep your sense of humor. Tomorrow will always bring something new.
Once you are back to work, get prepared.
Pack everything you need the night before. Have one bag that goes to childcare. Buy duplicates of essential items so you keep one in your child’s bag and one at home. Choose a spot where you always place things that go to child care.
A daily calendar planner is helpful for yourself and other caregivers for writing down nap times, bowel movements, accomplishments, and additional information such as what your child eats and when.
Manage your time and be organized.
You’ll be juggling more: not only the usual work hours, dinner preparation, household chores, time for yourself, and time with your partner, but now the time-consuming tasks and pleasures of your new baby. With a few things in place in advance, life will be much easier.
Find little ways to stay connected with your child while away from them. If you can, plan a daily zoom call. Keep some photos on your desk.
Make backup plans.
There will be days when your baby is sick, or your child care is closed. Be prepared with alternative plans on those days. Check with your employer beforehand about taking time off when your child is sick. Talk with a family member or close friend about filling in if you can’t bring your baby to child care.
Establish a support system.
Don’t try to do it all yourself. Accept help from your partner, family members, and friends. Seek other working mothers who can offer support as you transition back to work.
Nurture your well-being.
As difficult as it may seem, take time to nurture your well-being. Taking the baby for a walk is enjoyable for your baby, and it’s good exercise for you. Rely on easy-to-prepare meals or a relaxing bath after putting your baby to bed to help ease stress. Get as much rest as possible. Try going to bed early once a week to catch up on sleep. Cut down on unnecessary commitments.
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