For me, the worst part about maternity leave – other than the sleepless nights – was that it had to end. And after my second two children I seriously wavered about whether to go back at all. I can’t even explain the anxiety that I felt in the weeks that lead up to my return to work; I worried about everything. Now, over a year since returning to work after my third child, I can honestly say, I’m glad that I went back…and trust me, those are not words that I thought I’d ever say. The key for me was finding a routine that worked for us.
So if you’re going back to work in the near future or unsure if you should, here are a few of the things that helped me survive the first few weeks and months back in the office. And remember, every day gets a little easier. Promise.
Start off easy. While I was happy to go back to work after having my first, nothing could have prepared me for the chaos of those first few days back at work. The hours felt longer than ever, nothing in my office was where I left it, and I had about 1,892 emails to sift through. Okay, so the emails isn’t an exact figure (perhaps just what it felt like?), but going back to work full time after being away for 9 weeks was hard. My transition with Everett was much better since I went back part time and made a point to visit the office in the 2 weeks before returning. If part-time isn’t a long term option at your job or for your budget, consider going back part time for the first 2-4 weeks to ease the transition.
Bring your baby to the office. Okay, not literally, but bringing lots of pictures your baby to decorate your office or cube, can help a lot. You might want to consider scheduling a portrait session in the week or two before going back to work, so you can have some updated pictures of the two of you to put on your desk beside those adorable newborn pictures.
Keep your child care provider’s information handy…and use it! Dropping my kids off at daycare for the first time was never easy, but that first day always got easier after I called to check on them. I even gave my daycare provider a heads up that I’d be calling to check on Everett and then called (twice). They were happy to take the call and I was happy to have the peace of mind. Besides, if your daycare provider isn’t willing to give you a little assurance here or there, they probably shouldn’t be your daycare provider.
Keep quality time in mind. One of my biggest struggles going back to work was watching the amount of waking hours I spent with my babies drop drastically. On maternity leave it was the two of us all day long until my husband came home from work or my other children came home from school, but once I went back to work I only saw my baby for a few hours per day (an hour in the morning and a couple hours at night). Once you go back to work, try finding an activity that you can do one-on-one with your child. A friend of mine recently tried waking up a little earlier and adjusting her start time at work so she could play with her son in the mornings. I, on the other hand, prefer to add a bit of snuggle time with just Everett at the end of the day before bed. It is no doubt the best part of my day and can often help me unwind from a long day at the office.
Pamper yourself. It’s hard to remember to take care of yourself after you have a baby, but adding going back to work into the mix can make it even harder. Schedule some time for yourself into your day planner, whether it be shopping, a quick cup of your favorite coffee, or maybe just a spa day in your own home after the kids have gone to bed.
A friend of mine went back to work earlier this month after having a baby girl and I made her a small gift basket full of all the little items to make the transition easier – soothing tea, decadent chocolates, an eye mask for a more restful night sleep, and Softsoap Fresh & Glow Hydrating Shower Cream and Softsoap Fresh & Glow Exfoliating Fruit Polish containing 100% real extracts for a relaxing shower at the end of the day that’s sure to make her skin look great.It’s an easy way to pamper yourself on a daily basis, whether it be before going into work or after you get home. And unlike some of those pricey spa products, Softsoap can be found in the Bath Soap aisle at Walmart.
How did your transition back to work go? What made it easier for you to return to work?