Returning to Work After Baby…and Surviving it
No matter how short or long your maternity leave is (for me, 8 weeks with baby 1 and 14 weeks with baby 2), going back to work and figuring out how to actually arrive at work at a decent time is the hardest thing you will experience after having a new baby. So many tears will be shed and the first full day that you put in at work, where you are away from your baby, will seem to be one of the slowest and longest days of your life. To help you get through it, having done it twice myself, I have compiled a list of ways to make the transition from full-time baby snuggle fest to part-time baby snuggle fest and part-time full-time employee go a little smoother for you:
- Visit your daycare/ sitter/ whoever, with your new baby.
- Not only will this give you peace of mind as you can immerse yourself in your infant’s teachers’ schedule, but it will allow baby time to start bonding with his/ her future teacher(s) and not show up on their first day to a setting with people that they are not familiar with.
- If possible, return to work midweek.
- It may not seem like it will be a big deal but, trust me, even half of a week will go by at a snail’s pace and have you wishing you had the weekend to spend full-time with your baby again. Starting midweek will allow you time to ease in to your new schedule.
- The day before you go back to work, have baby stay at daycare, or wherever, for a half day.
- It may be difficult to give-up part of you last day with baby, but it will also give you time to get that haircut you have needed for 3 months or do a little back-to-work shopping so that you are comfortable in your postpartum body. Which leads me to my next point…
- Go shopping!
- I know, I know this doesn’t seem like it would be important; but, if you are anything like me, showing off your new postpartum body to all of your co-workers might make you feel a bit uncomfortable; and this decrease in confidence is going to make it even harder for you to stay positive (and be productive) at work while being away from your baby. So, take an hour and go do something for you momma. I love things like high-rise leggings and forgiving tunics (which were not in my pre-pregnancy wardrobe) to make me feel confident during a long workday.
- Pack baby the night before.
- The first morning that you are required to get you entire family ready for work/ school/ daycare/ etc. is going to be one extremely HOT MESS. The first few days, at least, I found that preparing bottles and packing up our new baby’s daycare diaper bag (extra clothes, bedding, sleep sack, extra pacifiers, etc.) and even loading the bag in the car was extremely helpful. Any steps that you can eliminate are minutes that can be used elsewhere.
- Allow time for tears.
- Of course you will want to drop baby off as late as possible so that you can spend the most time with him/ her that you can before jetting back in to the world of full-time employee. However, that first day back tends to be a very difficult one. Not being in a rush and allowing yourself 10, even 5, extra minutes to cry the car after drop-off and then to regain some composure before greeting all of your smiling co-workers is extremely helpful…and absolutely necessary.
- Lean on awesome co-workers and friends.
- I am so lucky in that I have some of the most amazing co-workers around. The first day back after baby 1 and after baby 2 I was showered with gifts, coffee (obviously a must for someone with a newborn) and kind words to make things that much easier for me. There was also zero judgment when tears were shed along with lots of hugs to cheer me up when I was missing my sweet snuggle bug.
- Check on baby.
- Any, and all, people who work with newborns know that you will be feeling some major separation anxiety you first day away from baby; all new moms do! They would probably even be surprised to NOT hear from you checking on how baby’s first day away is going. Just do it! With both of my babies I waited about 2-3 hours and then could NOT take it anymore and emailed their teacher (they both had the same one, she rocks!). She instantly responded reassuring me that baby was doing just fine and that was all I needed to get right back to being a productive member of society.
- Enjoy extra snuggles at the end of the day.
- It is extremely common for baby to be a little extra sleepy from all of the excitement of being in a new place all day. Be ready to put those maternity leave yoga pants back on when you return home and enjoy some extra, sleepy snuggles for the next several evenings.
Jennifer Welder is a school-based Speech-Language Pathologist by day, Wife and Mommy of one very mobile toddler and one very happy newborn by night. She loves snuggling with her princesses and then collapsing into a heap on the couch with her husband to veg-out with Netflix and some well-deserved vino. Jennifer’s blog can be found on www.bows4days.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bows4daysblog.