Imagine blissful days with no screaming baby. While heading back to work after maternity leave might seem overwhelming, one silver lining will be moments of quiet like this.
It can feel liberating and terrifying at the same time.
At first, it might feel nice to have some time to “yourself,” even if you’re meeting the needs of others at work.
But over time, you might quickly feel nostalgic about maternity leave, wanting to hop in your car and head for home:
As time passes, the demands and realities of work set in. This might increase your anxiety and stress levels!
It’s a BIG transition when you go back to work after maternity leave.
You’ve just spent a bunch of time with your baby and now you’re not getting to see them all day long.
That fact alone can create quite a bit of stress. If you aren’t proactive, you might find yourself worrying about all sorts of things. Like, what if they need something important from you – and you’re not there?
Depending on how you answer that question will influence how you feel about returning to work!
It’s a tough decision, for sure.
And one that a lot of moms these days have to wrestle with.
For some, it’s a choice they get to make.
Yet others have no choice. For them, 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 tips to help make the transition LESS stressful.
#1 Figure Out Your Commute
Unless you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ll spend a lot of time commuting.
It can be a drain if, after a long day of churning out work to hit filing deadlines, you end it by driving bumper to bumper for an hour (or more!).
That’s why it’s important to figure out your commute BEFORE you start.
Yes, this may seem like an obvious thing, so let me explain what I mean:
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 derail your commute. For example, if the sun is in the baby’s eyes – it’s going to make your drive more difficult!
Because commuting alone with a baby is HARD. And it’s even more exhausting if you have a long commute.
That’s why the next tip is 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…
But, if you are headed back to work, this is something you must consider.
Once maternity leave ends and you’re back in the daily grind, every minute becomes 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 forms. Probably change a diaper. Deal with any separation anxiety. And then brace yourself for leaving them…
It’s a HUGE emotional drain.
And takes many scarce 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 cut down on your stress.
If you don’t have a daycare near home consider these alternatives:
- -Nanny share with other folks in the neighborhood
- -In-home daycare
- -An Au Pair
These are options we didn’t 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: They’re 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 also some good at home daycares out there if you can find them.
Take time to do some research. Join Facebook groups. Talk to other moms.
Ask for recommendations.
You might just be pleasantly surprised at what you find!
Ok! Next up:
#3 Make Your First Week Back Right Before A Holiday
If you can swing it, this is magical.
In short, 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 slowly. 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’ll make for a much more reasonable return to the world of employment.
And while you’re returning, the last tip can help the most!
#4 Line Up An All-Star Support Crew
This next tip is essential.
It’s the thing that will help more than any other.
Cause if you’re not particularly excited about going back to work…
This one is a must. It’s inspired by the old aphorism:
It takes a village.
Because it really does. With our firstborn son, we were living far away from family.
And so 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.
Life is a roller coaster! And life with a newborn baby is the BIGGEST roller coaster of them all.
So the question is: if you’re not close to family, where can you find support?
Even if you’re not close to family, life as a parent is going to feel MUCH more manageable if you’ve got some kind of support network.
If you aren’t able to rely on family, it’ll pay long term dividends to start building your own community.
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!
Focusing on building a community with one of these groups will help when things get tough.
For most folks, it’s gonna be their neighbors or social connections.
Relying on a professional network can be harder. It’s not impossible, but it’s a different dynamic.
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!
#5 Consider Renting A Premium Pump
If you’ve read this far, then you know how tough going back to work after maternity leave is.
And one thing that complicates EVERYTHING is trying to breastfeed when you’re working.
It’s hard enough to find the time and work it into your busy workday. So the last thing you want to do is settle for a pump you don’t love.
That’s why we recommend thinking about renting a better pump. The cheaper pumps that are provided by insurance can be uncomfortable and difficult to use.
So take a look at your budget and do some research locally to see if you can rent a better pump. Usually, you can rent from a local hospital.
Anything you can do to reduce your daily stress and the small hassles that come with going back to work after maternity leave will help in the long run.
So there you have it, folks:
5 Tips to Consider For Heading Back To Work After Maternity Leave.
What did you do (or plan to do) to help with your transition back to work?