Tips for Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

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Tips for Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

The United States as a whole offers much less paid maternity leave than other countries.  However, it doesn’t matter if you get a long or short leave, it’s still hard to leave your snugly baby and head back to work.  Here are my 10 tips for returning to work after maternity leave. If you are really dreading the return, check out this post I wrote about why being a working mom is awesome.

Top 10 Tips

1. Practice Your Morning Routine

You and baby have likely gotten into a morning routine that doesn’t involve leaving the house in time to be somewhere first thing. Work with your partner to plan what your morning routine will look like, and a couple weeks before you go back start practicing.

2. Do a Daytime Care Trial Run

Whether your partner will be staying home, you have a nanny coming to you, or baby is going to daycare, do a practice run or two. This allows you to make sure your baby is comfortable with the caregiver and gives the caregiver a chance to ask any questions that come up. If you are hesitant to give up any time with your baby, just make it a few hours. Use that time to run errands, get your hair done or just take a nap.

If you are feeling guilty or worried about putting your baby into daycare, check out this post about why it’s okay.

If you are thinking a nanny may be a better option, you will definitely want to ask these interview questions when finding the perfect one.

3. Make Sure Baby Will Drink a Bottle

If you have been exclusively breastfeeding while on maternity leave, your baby may not be too impressed with an impersonal bottle at first. Start practicing a couple weeks ahead of time, so baby gets used to it. The last thing you want is to be spending your first day back worrying about if your baby is eating.


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4. Practice Pumping

Along with baby practicing drinking from a bottle, you will need to practice pumping if you plan to continue breastfeeding. You don’t want to be trying to figure out how to use your pump when you get to work.

5. Build Up a Milk Stash

If you are planning to pump at work, you will be pumping to feed your baby the next day. It never hurts to have a little bit of a milk stash built up. If you have enough supply, start creating a freezer stash a couple weeks before going back to work.

6. Preemptively Skim Your Emails

If you have a job where you get a lot of emails, find some time to at least start going through them. Delete all the ones that are junk or no longer relevant. This will drastically cut the size of your inbox. Simply knowing what you are in for when you are opening your email on your first day back can help with the dread. I used my midnight pumping sessions to go through my emails.

7. Stop By Work For a Visit

Simply stopping by with your baby for a few minutes and chatting with coworkers can make going back not seem so bad.

8. Incorporate Your Favorite Part of Work Into Your First Day Back

For me, I love the traveling and speaking aspect of my job.  Therefore, the weekend right before I went back to work I traveled to spend the weekend speaking.  This was like ripping the bandage off.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to go at first but ended up enjoying myself and afterwards going to work for a day seemed easy.  Maybe traveling isn’t what you want to do, but if you love getting lunch with a coworker, try to plan lunch on your first day back so you have something to look forward to.

9. Consider Adjusting Your Schedule

Sometimes there may be a better way to make it all work. It could be worth asking your boss about flexibility. Are you able to condense your work week or work from home some days? I was able to change from working five days a week to working 10 hour days four days a week. I still work the same 40 hours but have a whole extra day with Paxton each week which makes a big difference.

10. Don’t Make Any Drastic Changes Until You’ve Been Back to Work for at Least 1 Month

As maternity leave nears its end, it can be really tempting to decide you want to be a stay-at-home mom. Don’t make this decision while you are on leave. Go back to your commitments for at least 1 month and try your hardest to make it work. If after one month you are still sure that you would rather be a stay-at-home mom, then it may be worth considering if that’s a possibility.

Once you are back to work, check out these 35 tips from working moms on how they manage to balance everything.

Final Thoughts

In summary, plan ahead.  I dreaded going back to work for the last couple of weeks of maternity leave.  However, I realized that once I had a plan in place and slowly started getting involved in the work world again, it wasn’t that horrible of a thought.  I also found that leaving the house every day to go to work forces me to step out of my role as mom and focus on my other roles which keep me from getting burned out with any one thing.

If you really want to focus on you, check out my tips for fitting fitness into a working mom schedule here.

What helped you go back to work after maternity leave?  Let me know in the comments. If you are still looking for more tips, here are some additional tips for returning to work after maternity leave.

If you want to hear from other working moms that make it work, check out this interview series. I was even included as one of the interviews. You can view mine here.

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Tips for Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

18 thoughts on “Tips for Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

  • October 10, 2018 at 6:51 pm
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    Great tips! I did a lot of these when I returned back to work a few months ago! One other tip I recommend is go back mid-week. I started back on a Wednesday, which gave me a short week the first week so I could get acclimated to working.

    xoxNicole
    http://www.restingmomface.com

    Reply
    • January 27, 2019 at 3:42 am
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      That’s a great idea to start with a shorter week. It would definitely help mentally to only have 3 days instead of 5 before the weekend.

      Reply
  • October 11, 2018 at 2:37 am
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    Planning really is the key! You never realize just how difficult going back to work after a few short weeks is after having a baby. You know leaving the baby is hard… but the routine is different now. The worrying about another human is different. If nursing, that is different. Like you mentioned, getting the routine started ahead of time is the best idea. Awesome advice mama!

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    • January 27, 2019 at 3:43 am
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      Thanks! I’m all about routine and my son loves a good routine as well so it works out.

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  • October 12, 2018 at 9:23 pm
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    Hi Lauren! This is great! I am old, with adult children now, but I would have loved something like this when I was on maternity leave with my kids. Simple, practical tips. I tried pumping and storing up, but once I went back to work, my work wasn’t very supportive. Nowadays, employers are so much more receptive and supportive of it.

    My girls didn’t want anything to do with a bottle, even with me trying different types of bottles a couple weeks ahead of time. So, for the first couple months back, I went to my daycare and fed them on my lunch breaks. I had an awesome daycare provider. She would make a sandwich for me and set me all up for when I came to nurse my babies. That was a huge help.

    I love gals sharing about working and being a mom. I was a young mom, had to work, always worked full time, so deciding to be a stay at home mom wasn’t available for me. Working and being a mom shouldn’t always be about finances. If women have a dream and love what they do, they can do it! Thank you for getting back to it!

    Reply
    • January 27, 2019 at 3:45 am
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      Thanks for the support! That sounds like an amazing daycare! Moms should have to give up careers they love when they have kids, so I wanted to help out other new moms as much as possible. Hopefully these tips help a mom have the courage to go back to work.

      Reply
  • October 14, 2018 at 6:39 am
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    These are great ideas. I’m only working weekends and I still have that dread for every single shift. But by the end of the day I’m glad I still have a “real” job. Great post!

    Reply
    • October 14, 2018 at 9:25 am
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      I just returned to work this week and for me a taking my baby to daycare a week before helped alleviate the anxiety of leaving her . I got to be emotional about it outside of work . Good tips!

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      • January 27, 2019 at 3:47 am
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        I’m glad to hear that practicing the daycare routine was helpful!

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    • January 27, 2019 at 3:46 am
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      There is definitely something rewarding and satisfying about having a career and being a mom.

      Reply
  • January 30, 2019 at 7:39 pm
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    It’s so frustrating being a working mom. Pumping has been so challenging, but I think I finally have my routine perfected after….two and a half years lol.

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  • January 30, 2019 at 7:43 pm
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    These are great tips for returning to work after maternity leave. Especially all the advice about trial runs. I got lucky and found a job where I can bring the kids with me! It is part time, but I read water meters with my own vehicle. So I load the boys up at nap time and work about 2 hours a day! If you are considering becoming a sahm, but still need some income, look for something like that.

    Reply
  • January 30, 2019 at 8:25 pm
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    Yes to all these! If I may add, the best thing to do is to remind yourself that you are doing an awesome job and anyone who doesn’t agree can take a hike. lol.

    Reply
  • January 31, 2019 at 4:49 am
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    You have some really good points here. I found that the end of maternity leave really snuck up on me, both times!

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  • January 31, 2019 at 7:52 pm
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    I especially loved your last tip, I think it’s so sensible, as you suggest, to come back to work for a little while before deciding to eventually quit. It is essential to take a step back and really consider the situation from every perspective. Great advice !

    Reply
  • February 1, 2019 at 9:02 pm
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    Yesss! Practice pumping is a must! Girl, get those nipples ready for the pump! You don’t want to have to figure out pumping while at work!

    Reply

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