Are you planning on returning to work after maternity leave? I know that might be the last thing on your mind if you are an expecting mom. However, being prepared to know what to carefully consider when going back will help you smoothly transition into the new routine once that time comes.
From personal experience, I've done it with three kids, and I will be the first to let you know that the transition does not get easier with each additional child. However, I have some tips to make the transition a little easier once you have the main parts (like childcare) figured out. These are tips and tricks that can help you push through your initial back-to-work routine.
Do a Dry Run with Daycare/Childcare
The day before you actually go back to work, plan a 1-2 hour (a day if possible) drop-off with daycare so that you can prepare what you need for the school crib, pumping/feeding and work supplies. This will also allow you to cry your heart out without having to go into work with mascara smeared.
Stocking Up on Feeding/Nursing Gear
This is huge. Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding, you can never have enough supplies of breast pump supplies (aka leave a set of spare parts at the office)/formula and bottles! With some childcare centers, they may not wash the bottles for the day and may ask that you have a bottle for EVERY feeding. Yep. Every center is different, so you might just ask so that you know how much to stock up on.
I've stocked up on Playtex Baby™ Nurser® with Drop-Ins® Liners for baby number four because you can conveniently recycle and discard the liner after use.
It also provides a closer behavior to breastfeeding by simulating the same suck, swallow and breathe patterns as breastfeeding.
These bottles help babies have less colic and reflux for a more happy feeding. It has an unique bottom vent designed to keep the air at the back of bottle and out of baby’s tummy.
Stock Up On Other Baby Essentials
Seriously - you need diapers and wipes. You won't have enough! For me, it always seems like child care providers tell you at the most inopportune time when their diaper and wipe stock is low! I can also attest to running out of my own stash as well. Keeping a huge stash in the very beginning of your transition will minimize frantic errand running in the morning.
Easy Meal Planning for Weeknight Meals
As you begin your back-to-work routine after maternity leave, especially with baby being in the 3-9 month zone, making dinner can be tough. When you get home from work with baby, one of the first things you will probably want to do is cuddle, play and nurse/feed your little. I know cooking can be an afterthought with a new baby. I remember having an hour commute one way for work and if I had to cook dinner, we would be eating at 7:00, which was really late! Having a list of your favorite slow cooker recipes can be a huge win for you, making your evening time routine a little easier and getting you out of starting the fast food rut.
Invest In Yourself to Feel Good
Please believe me when I say to not try on your pre-pregnancy clothes before going to work. Instead, why not head out and spend a little on yourself to feel good going back to work! When kids go back to school, the tradition is that they get new clothes - why can't mom get new clothes for going back to work? This would also be a perfect time to spend a little on a new work laptop bag or those cute shoes you've been eyeing! You are doing an amazing job momma, award yourself! My suggestion: Sign up for a subscription clothing service. I thought it was a splurge too, until I realized how much time I got back in my life from not having to clothes shop!
Plan on Heading Back on a Wednesday or Thursday
Planning to go back mid-work week will allow you to maximize the time that you are still with baby and ease you and your little into the new routine. Even better, if you can schedule your time back during a quiet holiday week, you'll be able to adjust and catch up on emails before the real work begins. If this is possible, go for it!
Learn to Say No
Don't let others dump work on you the first week that you are back. Often, if you have coworkers that aren't parents, they may not understand the implications of needing time to transition back and/or need to make time to pump if you are breastfeeding. Make sure you have a discussion with your manager as soon as possible about boundaries and when you feel like it is too much.
Ask for Help
Learn how to ask for help from your friends and/or relatives. There is no shame in this. Here's some honesty for you: I hired a cleaning service and hid it from both of our parents for a long time because I was ashamed. Then I realized that other working moms did the same thing. There is nothing to be ashamed about. If you need help, ask for help (in my case hire help)!
Realize That It Is Okay If Your House Is a Mess
Even as a mom of three (and with one on the way), this still gets to me. You are still an amazing mom even though you have dishes piled high up in the sink, loads of laundry in stacks of every corner of the house, and unkept beds. If you were anything like me, before baby, you always made your bed. After baby (and going back to work), your bed is never made. That's a good thing. Here's another way to look at it: You have your priorities right!
Write Things Down
Whether it is memorable moments from baby, a list of things you need to do before getting home, groceries you need to pick up - write it down! Mom brain is a real thing. Figure out the best way for you to have a one stop list of all the things from your day. Having one list will also allow you to prioritize the most important items by seeing it all in one view.
Checklist for Leaving Home
If your going-back-to-work routine is anything like mine, you will feel like bag lady. Pro tip: Have a daily reminder checklist on the fridge or garage door. Things you can include are:
- Breastfeeding supplies/Formula
- Childcare crib sheets, bottles, receiving blankets
- Work Bag: Laptop, Mouse, Papers
- Gym Bag
- Lunch bag
Lean On Your Mom Friends at Work
Your mom friends will provide you with advice as you need it. They understand. They may be a few months ahead of you and can provide some helpful tips on navigating work after baby. Let them help steer you. Check out some of Laura's tip on her transition back to work.
Don't Make Decisions for a While
I'll be honest: you may have days you may want to quit your job. Those are natural feelings to have. But I would say, don't make any decisions for a while. Give yourself time to slip back into the "new" routine and delve into adult conversation. Give yourself at least 90 days with the new routine so you have fully adopted the new normal - and whether or not you want to commit to it.
Transitioning back to work is hard, I get it. For new and expecting moms, I hope these tips on how to return to work after having a baby provides you a little insight on what to expect.
Remember to check out the Target Cartwheel offer above if you are planning to stock up or gift to a new, expectant mom.