You’ve done it. You made it through pregnancy like a champ, brought your beautiful baby home and are now basking in the wonder of bonding with your precious little bundle.
If you’re returning to the work force, you’re probably in a whirlwind of excitement, with much hesitation. It’s great to get back to all those projects you had to leave unfinished, fall into your regular work routine and catch up with your ‘work family.’ But, you might be feeling sad and guilty for having to be away from your little one. Rest assured, Baby will not be traumatized by you returning to work. In fact, it’s surely harder for you than your baby. However, to make sure you’re as confident as possible when you go back to the grind, here are a few tips to help you get ready for returning to work after maternity leave.
1. Find your peace of mind!
In order for you to really dive into your work again, you need to make sure you feel good about where you take your baby during the day. Do you have family members who are able and willing to watch your little one? Great!! That makes the whole daycare search so much easier. However, if you don’t have a network of grandparents and/or other friends and family members lining up at your door, you’ll need to start doing your homework. Visit or interview as many daycares and nannies as possible. Be sure to ask plenty of questions. How much experience do they have with infants? How do they spend the day? What do they do when several babies are crying at once? Try to come up with any question you can possibly think of, they’ll be more than happy to put your mind at ease. Daycares and nannies know better than anyone: a mother’s peace of mind is priceless. When you trust the caregiver of your child, your work day will go by much faster and easier. (PS: make sure you have the daycare's number programmed into your phone; if you feel at all like calling them during the day to check in on your darling - go for it! If you ask, they might even text you a pic)
2. Pump it up!
Are you planning to continue breastfeeding and provide bottles of breast milk for your little one at daycare? Be sure to prepare for the change that’s coming. By the time you go back to work, your milk supply will most likely be regulated to exactly the amount that your baby needs. Just make sure to have enough milk ready to go for those first days and weeks at daycare. Some moms recommend ‘Power Pumping’ – pump every couple hours and let your baby nurse in between to increase your supply so that you’ll have enough milk to bottle up for daycare and also feed your baby. You can store some milk in the freezer just in case you need some extra ounces. But remember, if you have to supplement with formula, that’s just fine, too!
3. Flex your knowledge!
Are you planning to pay for daycare with a flexible spending account? It’s a great way to take advantage of your benefits and pre-tax income! Just make sure and familiarize yourself with the process before that first payment deadline takes you by surprise. Will the daycare be compensated directly? Do you need to pay out of pocket and be reimbursed? How long does it take for the payment or reimbursement to process? Will they provide you with a debit card linked directly to the flex spending account? It’s worth the extra time to be sure you know exactly what to do, it’ll just be one less thing to deal with and worry about when you’re at your first week back at work.
4. Practice makes perfect!
Your morning routine is about to become pretty crazy. Most likely, you’ll have to get your lunch ready, get yourself ready, gather all your stuff, make sure you have all your pumping equipment, feed the baby, change the baby, get Baby’s bottles for the day all labeled and packed up, get in some morning cuddles, and you might even have to help your partner get themselves ready and out the door, too! All before 8am. Whew! You might want to make sure you have things planned out a little so you can get out the door in time to drop Baby off at daycare and get to work on time. Try mapping out your trip to daycare and work with your GPS during your commute time to make sure you know what to expect, and maybe even do a couple practice runs before that first crazy morning sneaks up on you.
5. Load up the photos!
Of course, no matter how prepared you are, you’ll be missing your sweetie during the day. Be sure to have lots of photos and videos loaded up on your phone! When you start to feel sad or if your day needs brightening, there’s nothing like seeing your baby’s sweet smile. Don’t forget to print a photo to put up at your desk or work area! Surely your co-workers could all use a dose of cuteness everyday as well. Be ready for everyone to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ every time you show them your most recent picture of Baby sleeping.
6. Enjoy yourself!
Soak up every minute with your sweet little baby. Even a pouty face and poopy diaper turns into the best thing ever when you realize there will never be another time like this. Live life to the fullest by giving your baby as much love as possible. There's no such thing as wasting time when you're focused on loving your baby (even if you're spending most of your time at home while Baby naps)!
How did you find your work-life balance? Are you a second-time parent (or third-time, fourth-time, or more!)? We’d love to hear your thoughts on how to best handle those first days and weeks back at work. Please share your advice and knowledge!
Need a laugh? Check out this hilarious article of 10 Images That Prove Stock Photographers Have No Idea What a Working Mom Is.