It’s no secret that returning to work after the birth of your child can be overwhelming.
Not only are you dealing with the guilt you feel about leaving your brand new baby to return to the daily grind, but there are also those nagging thoughts constantly swimming through your mind about being able to handle the transition back to the office.
Will I remember how to do my job?
Have they found someone who can do it better in my absence?
How will I be a good mom and a good employee?
Take it from a mom who has been there: It’s going to be okay. Sure, it takes time to get back into the groove, but balancing work life with your new mom responsibilities can be done. Here are a few ways to make returning to work after having a new baby a little easier.
Communicate with your boss before you return
Before you went on maternity leave you probably gave a rough estimate of when you would return. At least two weeks before this date, reach out to your boss to make sure he or she is aware you’ll be coming back. You may need to realign on your actual return date if you’re planning to take extra leave or ensure your access is back up and running. Make sure you’re both on the same page when it comes to your return date, so that you can both preemptively complete whatever tasks are needed to in order to make your first day back as smooth and flexible as possible.
Make your new needs known
A new baby comes with new needs for your work schedule. In the past, you may have been the employee who could be depended on to stay late or turn in a weekend assignment, so it’s important to establish new boundaries upon your return. Ask yourself: What’s changing for you? Do you now have to be out of the office at a certain time in order to pick up your child? Do you want to set aside a part of the evening where you won’t be available so you can spend it with your baby? Do you need more notice in order to attend after work events? The more open and direct you are about what’s changing, the more people will respect your boundaries and your new need of flexible hours.
Find childcare you trust
When it comes to finding someone to care for your child while you’re at work, it’s crucial that you feel good about the decision. If you’re worried about your child’s wellbeing, there’s no way you’re going to be able to focus at work. Find childcare that makes you feel confident that your child is safe, loved and taken care of. Take some time to do your research, tour facilities, interview nannies and talk to other parents. If possible, take a week to slowly transition (helpful for both you and baby!) before going back to work full-time and start the transition while you’re still on maternity leave. Drop your child off for a half-day at grandma’s, go with them to daycare for a day or two, or have your nanny start working a week or two before you go back to work. Feeling more prepared will make the transition easier!
Be patient with yourself
They call it a “transition” for a reason: It takes time to adjust! You might completely lose it during your first day back at work, or even six months in. It’s important to be kind to yourself, and know that you’re doing what you can with what you have in the moment you’re in. It’s okay to enjoy your 20-minute commute, since now it’s the only peaceful moment you have, or to rush home immediately after a meeting to snuggle your baby. It might not be exactly how you envisioned it, but you’re going to make it work – all in good time.
When I first returned to work after having a baby, I remember an older colleague telling me that it does get easier. To be honest, I thought she was completely insane! But it turns out that she was right. It does get easier – you can be a good mom and a good employee. You’ll be able to get back into the swing of things – with a little patience and preparation.