No screaming baby.
The calm, refreshing feeling like you get from a week at the beach.
And a moment of silence broken only by the typing on the computer…
You’re back at the office after being away. On maternity leave.
And it feels strange but liberating.
Or does it?
Does it feel…
…to be always from the little one?
What if they need something?
And you’re not there?
Depending on how you answer that question, and how you feel about it, will affect how you feel about returning to work!
It’s a tough decision.
And one that a lot of moms these days have to wrestle with.
For some, it’s a choice they get to make.
Others have no choice. Heading back to work after the baby is born is an economic necessity.
Either way, whether you stay home or head back to grind away in the office, consider these:
#1 Figure Out Your Commute
It’s no secret that working professionals spend a lot of time commuting. Especially if you live in a city. And having to fight traffic can be exhausting.
It can be a drain if, after a long day of churning out work to hit filing deadlines, you have to end it by driving bumper to bumper in the rain…for an hour.
So that’s why it’s particularly important to really figure out your commute BEFORE you start.
Yes, this may seem like an obvious thing, so let me explain what I mean:
I mean really figure out your commute down to the most MINUTE details.
What’s the best or fastest route?
What’s an alternative route?
What are some side roads for if traffic gets really bad?
Where is the sun in the sky at the end of the day…
That last one might seem a little ridiculous, but it’s funny how the smallest of things like that can really affect your commute. If the sun is in the baby’s eyes – it’s going to make things more difficult!
Because commuting alone with a baby is HARD. More exhausting if you have a long commute (with traffic).
That’s why my next tip is so KEY.
#2 Find Childcare Near Work OR Home
Now, not everyone has to find childcare. So if you are blessed to be staying home with your little bundle of joy then this section isn’t for you (even this post isn’t, maybe?).
But, if you are headed back to office land, this is something you seriously must consider. Because once maternity leave ends and you’re back in the daily grind, every minute becomes even more precious.
And one of the most time-consuming things in the day is how long it takes to drop the baby off at daycare. There’s so much to do. You don’t just go in, hand them off, and go on your way.
You have to talk to the teachers. Fill out whatever forms they need for the day. Probably change a diaper (that’s our daycare’s policy). Then console your baby. Deal with any separation anxiety. And then brace yourself for leaving them.
With caregivers, you aren’t even biologically related to.
It’s a huge emotional shift.
And takes many minutes out of your day.
So if you can find childcare that’s either close to home, or close to work, that’s going to be key.
And if you don’t have a daycare near home (or one with openings when you need it!), consider these alternatives:
-Nanny share with other folks in the neighborhood
-An Au Pair
These are options we didn’t really know about or had only heard about when we were looking for childcare. There are benefits to all of them, and some have some downsides, but here’s a couple of things that surprised me:
Some upsides can be: More affordable than a daycare center site (if you’re in a city). Surprisingly an Au Pair might not be that much more than a daycare center (if you like in a big city)….
There are some good at home daycares out there. Take time to do some research. Join Facebook groups. Talk to other moms. You might be surprised.
It’s not for everybody, but something to consider if you live in a city with high daycare costs.
Ok! Next up:
#3 Make Your First Week Right Before A Holiday
If you can swing it, this is magical.
Because it makes for a smoother transition.
For you. And for baby.
It reduces the shock. So it’s less overwhelming. Without it, that first week back can be quite a jolt. Almost like the early weeks when you had a newborn baby. When every day mooves sloowly. Time seems to stand still.
So preempt the sluggishness, and drain of a slow first week. Pick a week with a holiday (if your work offers it). Or, better yet, try this:
Schedule your own holiday or even holidays.
Start back to work on an intermittent basis (if your employer can agree to it).
That will, of course, depend on your employer.
But many can support that. And if they do, it can really make for a much more reasonable return to the world of employment. But more than figuring out childcare, my last tip for you with help the most!
#4 Line Up An All-Star Support Crew
I’ve saved the most important tip for last.
It’s the thing that will help more than any other.
And it reminds me of that old (but VERY true phrase):
It takes a village.
Because it really does. About a month after our little guy was born, we looked at each other and said “this is why people move closer to family when they start having kids.
Because if it’s just the two of you? Things can get tough. When the kid gets sick. When the parents get sick. And on and on. Life is a roller coaster. And life with a newborn baby is the BIGGEST roller coaster I’ve ever been on!
So the question is: if you’re not close to family, what to do?
Because the truth is, even if you’re not close to family, life as a parent is going to feel MUCH more manageable if you’ve got some kinda support network.
This could be:
- A group of close friends
- Religious community
- Professional network (harder)
- Your neighbors
… And there are great things about each of these communities!
Either way, it’s hard to be away from family. But focusing on building a community with one of these groups will help when things get tough. Personally, I think either neighbors, friends or a religious community bring the most rewards.
Relying on a professional network can be harder. Because it’s mixing work and personal life. But in 2018, lots of folks make friends with people at work, so don’t rule it out.
Just know that it’s a different dynamic. And, in our experience, relying on a group of close friends can be challenging too. Because if they are close to you in age, there’s a good chance they have little kids too!
But if you coordinate right, a good friend (especially if they live nearby) can be a great opportunity to consider for a nanny share.
At the end of the day, it’s about what you are most comfortable with! So just remember, the IMPORTANT point here is not so much which group you choose to build relationships with, but rather that you don’t forget to at all!
So there you have it, folks!
4 Tips to Consider For Heading Back To Work After Maternity Leave.
What did you think? What was your experience?
Tell us more below in the comments section!
Until next time,