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.
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.
In summary, plan ahead. I dreaded going back to work for the last
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.
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Mom, wife, veterinary pharmacist, equestrian, ice cream lover and occasional hot mess