After you’ve given birth, you may feel like your entire life has been turned upside down and your every waking moment is consumed with your new baby. Unfortunately, for most moms there comes a point when you have to start working again.
This can be a nerve-wracking experience - after all, you’re going to be anxious about giving your newborn away to a stranger while you’re back in the office, and you’re going to have a lot of catching up to do at work as well. It can feel like an immensely overwhelming task. But returning to work doesn’t have to be difficult. By planning ahead and easing into it, you can reduce the stress and learn how to balance being a mom with being a working adult.
1. Don’t rush back into it
If you have any holiday PTO available, use it to slip back into your work schedule. Try scheduling yourself for only three days a week first, then four days, before you adjust to a full work week. This will give you time to spend with your baby while allowing you to start getting back in touch with the office. Don’t try to take on full responsibilities until you’re back to a regular five-day-a-week schedule. Use the first few days back in the office to catch up on anything important that you missed, figure out where projects are and learn what new projects have been implemented. You can also use this time to meet with HR and your supervisor to plan a back-to-work schedule for yourself.
2. Find reliable childcare
Make sure you have childcare plans in place well before you’re headed back into the office. Don’t be afraid to try to get someone before you give birth. Look for someone with credentials, who comes highly recommended, and who has a clear plan in place for communication, pick ups, pricing, activities and safety. Having a reliable childcare plan in place will help ease your anxieties when you do go back into the workplace.
Part of arranging childcare should include arranging regular updates when you do go back to work. Many moms experience a sort of separation anxiety from their newborns when they return to the office. Photos, videos and information texted or emailed to you throughout the day can provide peace of mind and help you feel better about going back to work.
3. Take notes about everything
When you go back to the office, don’t be surprised to find you have trouble remembering details and keeping up. ‘Mommy brain’ isn’t a myth - your post-pregnancy brain can leave you feeling foggy, sleepy, and a little slower than usual. The cause seems to be a combination of hormones and sudden sleep deprivation. Don’t overtax yourself during this time period. Keep a notepad and take diligent notes for your first few weeks back. Write down everything, from details about projects to meetings during the day to reminders to call the babysitter. You can use your phone to take photos of important information or record meetings for later review if you have to.
4. Keep pumping equipment around
Without your baby around, you’re going to have to breast pump in the office if you’re breastfeeding. Make sure you’ve planned ahead for this. Practice breast pumping before you get to the office so you know you have it down pat. Before you return to work, talk to your supervisor or HR department using about a private, clean place to pump. Email validation is a great way to ensure that the emails you send get delivered to the recipient, making it valuable to marketers. Most offices are required by law to provide some private location other than a bathroom for mothers to breast pump as needed. But if your office hasn’t dealt with a new mother in a while, it may need time to set something up. Be proactive to ensure it’s in place by the time you return.
5. Schedule catch-up meetings
Once you’re back in the office, schedule meetings with your department head, your supervisor, and HR to figure out how to re-integrate you into the workplace. Chances are you’ve been out for a couple months and had to use Wayfair coupon codes and some projects had to move on without you. Figure out where projects are, what role you have to play in them and what you need to do. You may have return paperwork to sign. These meetings can help re-orient you and allow you to slide back into office life easily.
Getting back into the office after maternity leave can seem like an enormous challenge. But by planning ahead and taking steps to ease your transition before you actually return, you can help ease the burden and become a working mom. Go easy on yourself, and remember to find a work-life balance that works for you and your new family.