Returning to work already?
Chances are you just got comfortable with your daily routine with your little one when you realize it’s time to return to work and learn an entirely different schedule. The emotions involved with going back to work are enough to deal with, but then you have to add on the logistics of simply getting out the door.
I am fortunate to work somewhere with a generous maternity leave, so I was home for 13 weeks with my twins. I struggled with going back to work. I feared my babies would have abandonment issues. I wondered if I would ever be to work on time. I constantly thought about (and still think about) how I could focus at work all day and have enough energy in the evening to be engaged with my kiddos. It took a few weeks to get our system down, and in some ways we are still a work in progress. I can tell you that it does get easier. As the kids get older, there is less to pack, and now they can get dressed and walk to the car. They can also now tell me how much they enjoy day care which really helps. When all else fails, I remind myself that I was raised by a working mother, and I think I turned out ok!
Here are the 5 best tips and tricks that helped me transition back to work after maternity leave.
- Remember the good old days – Make a list of the things you enjoy about your job. What are you looking forward to? Try to push that guilt out of your mind and think about the things you enjoy about your day without your bundle of joy. A few examples on my list were (a) interacting with coworkers, (b) eating a meal at my own pace without interruption, and (c) working out on my lunch hour.
- Get organized – If you could see my closets or pantries you would laugh at this advice, but it’s really the only way I make it out the door every morning. Pack anything you need for the next day: day care bags, your lunch, pumping necessities, etc. in the evening. Lay out our clothes so you don’t have to think about it in the morning. Taking care of these things at night will save you in the morning.
- Practice makes perfect – Well, practice may not make perfect but it certainly makes you better prepared. Practice your morning routine before you actually have to beat the clock. If possible, arrange for your child to start childcare before you are due back at work, even if only for one day. Starting your first week back later in the week can also help you get in the swing of things.
- Go with the flow – All of the planning and organizing is great for most days, but you know what they say about best laid plans. You may have to change your shirt due to some spit up or have to tend to a diaper issue just as you are walking out the door. I had a child with acid reflux, so I eventually carried an extra shirt or cardigan with me everywhere. Of course it’s easier said than done, but don’t let these sporadic delays set a negative tone for your day.
- Remember you are not alone – You may feel as if you are on an island. You are not. Try to connect with other working moms. This part has been tough for me. If I am away from work, I want to spend time with my family. However, there are some ways to connect. We have a working parents network at work that has been very beneficial to me. We meet quarterly during our lunch hour and communicate online. Our day care also has a committee of parents that plan events for the teachers, but it has also been a great way to meet and connect with other working moms. Your husband is also there to help. My husband’s schedule is fairly unpredictable, but he either helps get things together in the evening or get the kids dressed in the morning so I can actually wear makeup. You don’t have to do it all!
Good luck and don’t forget photos! Everyone will be asking to see your precious little one, and you can sneak a peek throughout the day when you need a little boost.
Do you have any additional tips that helped with your transition? Please share.
**This post was originally published on September 20, 2012.