Returning to work after maternity leave can be a really tough transition. You are probably dreading leaving your brand new baby, but also excited to get out of the house and back to your routine! But, you might wonder how you are supposed to “get back to your routine” now that you have a baby. And how are you even going to swing going back to work with a new baby at home? The truth it, your routine won’t be exactly the same, but there are still plenty of ways to balance work with new motherhood.
This one is a no-brainer. Maybe you’re lucky enough to be able to bring your baby to work, especially if your office has a daycare. Otherwise, if your partner isn’t staying at home, look into a good nanny, daycare center that is suitable for newborns, or arrange to have a family member or close friend watch over the little one during the day. It is super important to always have a back up (or two, or three) for if your babysitter or nanny needs a day off or if your baby gets sick and can’t go to daycare.
However you decide to provide care for your baby while you are at work, don’t wait until the first day you go back to have them start. “Dress rehearsals” will make the transition so much easier for you and the baby- you will get more peace of mind, and your baby will get used to being away from you and having someone else look after him or her. Have your nanny or babysitter start coming a week before you go back to work, so you can show them the ropes. During this time, have the sitter act as if you weren’t there- this will help them be better prepared and it is also a gentle way of getting your baby used to you not being there. This will help your baby to not feel a sense of abandonment when you begin working again-he or she will get used to the fact that even if you aren’t there 24/7, you do always come back.
Talk to Your Employer
Before going back to work, talk to your boss to clarify your schedule and what is expected of you after your time off. Get a feel for how flexible he or she will allow you to be- baby you can bring your baby to the office some days, or maybe you can work at home part time. See to what extent you can fuse your work life with your new mommy responsibilities. Also, a trick to make going back to work easier is to have your first day back be on a Wednesday or Thursday, that way your first week back is a short one.
If you plan on breastfeeding, this could be the most challenging parts of going back to work. If you work close to home, arrange a feeding schedule for your baby where you can go home during lunch or other breaks to feed. Make a habit of feeding your baby immediately before you leave for work to hold them over until you come back. If you don’t live close enough to your office to be running back and forth, start pumping two weeks before going back to work to make sure the sitter has plenty to feed the baby with. Also, talk to your employer about creating an environment at work with an outlet where you can pump with privacy.
It will be difficult to be away from your child after weeks of bonding time. Fill your desk with pictures of your baby so he or she is always around you. Call or text the babysitter or day care center at least once a day to check in on your baby. Most importantly, make the most of the time you do have with your baby, before and after work and on weekends. Spend as much time as possible with your baby during those times. But don’t forget- between caring for a newborn and working, you’re allowed to have some time to yourself as well!