The transition of going back to work after a baby leave can be emotional, stressful, and come with unknown territory. You might feel torn between wanting to get back in the saddle at work and feeling pulled to be home with your baby. It can be challenging figuring out what your new normal, doing what’s best for your newborn, and reigniting your professional life.
So how do you make the transition of going back to work after baby as smooth as possible? We’ve got the mother insider scoop on how to ease the adjustment process and balance both worlds.
Find reliable childcare early on
Leaving your child with someone else is nerve-wracking. Are they going to be okay? What if they don’t stop crying? Does my sitter know CPR? Every possible scenario runs through your mind. All of your concerns are legitimate and completely normal. Ease your worries and start interviewing nannies, babysitters, or daycares early. Get to know your childcare provider on a personal level and familiarize yourself and your baby with their new caregivers.
A few weeks (or more) begin to observe the new facility, run a background check on the nanny (Care.com provides these!), and test run your routine. This will provide you peace of mind knowing your baby is well cared for, in the hands of someone you’ve vetted and you can focus on work. Also, have backups to your backup childcare options. The last thing you want to do is scramble to find a sitter.
Mom guilt is a real thing
Leaving your child for work or self growth is emotional for just about every new mom. Each new stage of life after the baby is an adjustment. Be kind, patient, and easy on yourself for feeling big feelings. Whatever response you might have is valid, but give it some time and it’ll get easier.
If it doesn’t get easier and you find that your priorities have shifted, it might be time to reevaluate your schedule and work less or think about changing your entire work situation to accommodate your child.
Practice your daily routine
Do a few dry runs with your new routine. This can include getting ready with the baby in the morning and leaving the baby with a sitter or daycare for a few weeks hours a week or so leading up to going back to work. This will help the baby familiarize themselves with new people and surroundings, and gauge the time management needed.
Back to work from home? This can present a different set of challenges, especially if you have multiple children of different ages. Although working from home can be more convenient, there’s more room for disruption in your day with a baby. You might need to have a nanny work in the home, work from the coffee shop a few days a week, or sleep train your baby to nap when you have major meetings or important calls.
Find your new balance
If you can go back to work part-time, at least in the beginning, this might help you figure out your new flow and relieve some pressure. If that isn’t an option for you, cut back on the commitments that are going to take you away from home life and work, just for a short while. It’s okay to say no!
Working part-time not an option? Being highly efficient is the name of the game. Jot down all the time stealers or wasted time you experience in a day. Then, try to find a solution for each one. One of the easiest ways to do this is to condense your meetings by making bullet points with topic timeframe, keeping track of the time, and opting to email if possible. Time blocking is going to be your greatest hack! Work smarter, not harder.
Separate work and family time
As more parents are working from home, it’s easy to blur these lines. Try to keep work separate from family time. Time block, batch tasks, and work in a designated space. This could mean leaving the home to work at a coffee shop while the sitter is at home. When you are home with your family, be present and leave distractions at work or online.
Get rid of distractions
Turn on social media blockers on your phone or download chrome plugins like StayFocusd or Newsfeed Eradicator for Facebook. Wasted time means work needs to be made up during family time.
Have a chat with your team and boss, explaining that the first few weeks back to work is an adjustment period, but that you’re 100% there and excited to be back. The best thing you can do is lay out a clear predictable schedule. Your old schedule may have allowed an all-day open door, but that could be different now. Block out time on your calendar that doesn’t allow for meetings or calls when you need to pump or leave for the day. Communication is key!
Don’t forget about you
Practicing self-care is a necessity for your mental wellbeing. Others depend on you all day long, it’s okay to ask for help. You can’t be the best version of yourself, both at home and professionally if you’re running on empty. So, enjoy a hot cup of coffee at your desk, go on an overdue date night or take that long bath you desperately need.
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