The time has come. You’ve just spent 12 long, often sleepless, but wonderful weeks at home with your new little bundle of joy. You never thought this day would come. There were days when you almost wanted to go back, days you cried because you were just too tired to function and wanted to get away. But deep down, you really would not want to be anywhere else than at home snuggling your babe. Unfortunately, it’s time to go back to the daily grind and return to work. You’re feeling anxious, sad, scared and just plain dread having to leave your little one.
Does this sound familiar?
As a Mommy of two little ones, I’ve felt these emotions and “been there” twice now. For me, going back to my nursing job at an area hospital was inevitable. I knew I would work as far through my pregnancy as I could handle, have my sweet little baby, and then head back to work 12 weeks later. All occupations and individuals are different, but no matter what, returning to work is an adjustment. The fear and stress you may be feeling in the days and weeks leading up to the day could be lessened with some thought and planning.
My hope is that these top 5 tips I have will not only decrease the amount of anxiety you have leading up to the day you’re back on the job, but will also make being at work a little easier.
- Make a plan. In the days and weeks leading up to the first day back, start to plan. This can include everything from your childcare provider to the meals on the table. I think planning ahead and being prepared not only makes things easier once the day arrives but it reduces stress all around. We would not have a home cooked meal on the table every night if it wasn’t for the CrockPot. There are so many recipes out there for anything and everything. Most of the time, you can just dump in all of your ingredients before work, turn it on low, and by the time you get home, dinner is served! Best invention ever. Another perk is that there are often leftovers for dinners later in the week and lunches. In our house, we also utilize a calendar that’s right on the refrigerator. This way my husband always knows what shift I’m working and who is watching our kids. We also keep track of when we drop off and pick up our kids here so we know what to pay our sitter. Other appointments and social events are here too that way we can all stay on the same page.
- Delegate. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We all have different people around us supporting us, so use it! Try not to hesitate when it comes to delegating tasks to your spouse or older kids. Don’t be embarrassed to accept help either, especially if someone offers it. My husband and I always refer to ourselves as a Team. We stick together when it comes to decisions and discipline, and we work together when it comes to household chores – we need each other. Our household would not be as “happy” as it is the majority of the time if my husband and I didn’t work together. I know I can always ask him to do something and he will do it. We’re in this together. It’s our family. I cannot wait until our oldest can be more included in this too (she’s 2.5)!
- Love your caregiver(s). I know it is not always easy to find good childcare. I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for the childcare that we have and my hope is that you all can find someone equally as wonderful. The most important thing is how you’re going to feel while your child is in the hands of these individuals. If you’re not comfortable and at ease when they are there, you will never feel good leaving them. You can’t put a price on that. Don’t be afraid to ask them anything and everything before you make your decision to go with them. Try to have them watch your little one for a short time prior to you going back so you can all feel better with the transition. When I went back to work after my second child, I had my sitter watch both of my kids individually for a few times and then together too. She was used to watching my oldest daughter, but I wanted to make sure she was completely comfortable with them both before a full 9 hour day. Also, see if your care provider is willing to call or text you updates throughout the work day. I know I look forward to photos of my little ones when I’m on a break at work.
- Commit to breastfeeding. If this is the route you are going, commit now and don’t look back. Chances are it’s been going relatively well for you up until this point and it still can! Talk to your employer prior to returning so they are aware that you plan to breastfeed and can be accommodating. You guys can discuss where you would pump and how often. Remember to begin using your electric breastpump more and begin building a milk supply as it gets closer to when you will be going back. I found that I was able to freeze about a bottle or two a day by pumping after my little guy’s first two feedings of the day. I also eat oatmeal and drink lots of water. I try to take advantage of the times when I am home and make sure I nurse then. Nothing helps your supply more than that mommy/baby bonding.
There are a few products that have made breastfeeding a success the first time around that I continue to use now with my second child. My Medela double electric breast pump is one of those items. It is still going strong with baby #2 and I was super pumped to learn that my insurance covered a second double electric pump with my second pregnancy. Now I have a pump I can keep at work and one at home. Call your insurance company if you are unsure about your coverage. All insurances should cover at least one pump. It’s going to sound silly, but I also love my Medela hand breastpump. It’s super nice to use if you just need to pump one side and doesn’t take as long to set up/clean up. It’s manual so you also don’t have to worry about plugging it in for power. Finally, I could not live without my breastpump bustier by Medela. It allows you hook up your double electric pump and be hands free. This gives me the freedom to chart, eat lunch, or talk to my family while I’m getting in my work day. At home it comes in handy if I’m brushing my teeth, doing dishes, or making a pot of coffee. My hands are free. It is a lifesaver.
- Stay positive. There are going to be moments when you feel guilty. That is normal. It kills us inside when we have to be away from our little ones all day and then when we are home we are just preparing for the next work day. You are not alone. Going back to work is what is best for you and your family. Your little one doesn’t even realize you are gone, and he or she is in good hands. Take advantage of the moments when you and your family are all together. Even though your baby may not understand, he or she will sense any stress or tension you might be having, so do your best to leave that at work.
We can do this!! There are working moms everywhere. The day always arrives where our maternity leave comes to an end and we make the leap back into the workforce. Be patient during the transition back. It’s okay to feel emotional and guilty. There may even be a part of you a little excited to go back, getting back into your old routine, and having adult interaction. That’s okay too! I hope these tips can ease your mind. They have helped me tremendously, especially the second time around.
Is there anything that made going back to work easier for you?