The day most new moms dread, avoid thinking about, and do not want to deal with until it comes. It is the end to a new, joyful and memorable experience. The day you have to go back to work after maternity leave.
Going Back to Work Is Difficult
It is a scary thought for new moms going back to work after maternity leave. Thinking about someone else with your baby all day long. It is a tough time filled with tears, anxiety and stress. A time where many working moms wish they were stay at home moms and some become a stay at home mom. There are many reasons why going back to work after maternity leave is difficult:
- You have been with your baby everyday since day one of their life.
- Enjoyed being home with your baby (and other kids if you have them)
- Hard to leave your baby with someone else.
- You will not want to miss those “firsts” your baby has. One way to help this is to tell the caregiver not to tell you when they do something for the first time. That you will let them know when your baby does something new. This way you see everything for the “first” time.
- The maternity leave schedule was pleasant.
- Got use to your maternity leave routine.
- Need to adjust to a new routine and schedule. Leaving earlier and getting home later with childcare in the routine now.
- Enjoyed time off from work.
- Worried how you will be able to keep up with working full time, a new baby, your house, and everyday life.
- Change is hard. Last time you were at work you just had to worry about yourself. Now you have a tiny human relying on you in addition to those at work.
What to Expect Going Back to Work
When you go back to work certain things will be different than when you left. Here are some things to expect.
You Will Be Tired
Likely you are still getting up in the night once or more, and now you can’t nap when the baby is, sleep longer in the morning if baby is, and potentially have to stay up later to get everything done. Even if your baby is sleeping through the night, your day will be non-stop from the time you get up until the time you go to bed.
Busy Busy Busy
You are going to be extra busy. It will take time at work to fit back in and catch up depending on work. Home will be busy because you no longer have all day to get laundry done or do errands, not to mention everything else that has to be squeezed into the short weeknights.
Missing Your Baby
Going back to work after maternity leave is hard because you will miss you baby like crazy. You were just with him/her all day everyday so now to be away from them 8, 9, 10 hours a day is a huge adjustment. You will wonder what your baby is doing all day without you there – wondering where you are.
Your Job May Be a Struggle
You have been gone for a while and certain things may be different. Work didn’t stop while you were gone so now you have to play catch up. There could be new people, new tasks, and it may take some time to get back in the swing of things at work. I remember with both my first and second babies it took me several months to get back to feeling “normal” at work. There would be things that would come up 5-6 months after I was back to work that had happened while I was on leave.
Pumping At Work
Pumping at work is a new experience and may take time to feel comfortable. Between trying to schedule it into your work day, to figuring out and setting up the location where you will pump, to all the parts you need, remembering to bring them home, and bring the parts back, it can be a lot to take on. After a few days you will get into a routine, but those first few days can be tough.
You will have a new routine. Nights after work are going to look different. There will be items to unpack from the day and to get ready for the next. Plus you will just want to hold and play with your baby. You may be exhausted from a full day of work and lack of sleep at night. Nights will go fast and you have to make the most of them.
Ways to Cope When Returning to Work
When going back to work after maternity leave it may feel like the world is ending (even if you enjoy your work). I promise it will get easier as time passes. Here are 6 mechanisms for you to try that will help you cope going back to work after maternity leave:
- Go back mid week. If possible, do not have your first week back be a full 5 day week. The week will seem to take forever. If you can, go back part time for the first few weeks. This will help you ease back into work and still get to spend time with your baby.
- Have your spouse or a family member stay home with the baby your first couple days back to work. This way you can get a little routine going and ease back before having to add the baby leaving the house and daycare drop off and pick up into the routine.
- Keep pictures up of your new baby at work.
- Call the daycare or whoever is watching your child and check up on your child. See how the day is going. If possible, ask them to send you a picture.
- Visit your child on your lunch break.
- Look at a couple pictures or videos of the baby throughout the day or while you pump.
- Work from home a day a week if your job allows.
Prepare In Advance For Those First Weeks Back
How can you make your first few weeks at work after maternity leave a little bit easier? Similar to preparing for a baby, prepare ahead for going back to work.
Prepare Healthy Freezer Meals
Having a baby is a lot of work and maternity leave is a lot of work. However, towards the end, when you are more comfortable with your baby and routine, take the time to make some freezer meals. This way when you go back to work and your whole life is turned upside down again you have some meals prepared until you figure out your new normal. For more tips on best freezer meals click here.
Those first few minutes when you get home from work are hectic. There will not be time to prepare a meal between unpacking from the day, packing for the next, and feeding that baby unless you want to eat at 8:00pm. So having meals prepared in advance is super helpful. Extra tip: Try meal prepping on the weekends for the week. It decreases stress on the weeknights when there is already a meal prepared.
Stock Up on Disposable Items
Stock up on baby supplies like diapers, wipes, toiletries, etc. You may have stocked up on baby supplies before baby arrived, but certain things are hard to predict that a baby will need until they arrive. Also, you may have just run out of certain items.
Stock up on household items and your toiletries like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and laundry detergent. Avoid having to run unnecessary errands.
Check and Clear Your Calendar
Look at your calendar for upcoming events. Is there anything you need to get, prepare or do for them? For example, you may need to get a card or a gift for a birthday party, grab supplies for a church fundraiser, or get an oil change. Do these things while on maternity leave instead of your first week or two back to work.
Do not plan unnecessary events the first few weeks back to work. It will take a couple weeks to get into a new routine with your baby and you may need time on nights and weekends to adjust, catch up on things, and spend time with your baby since you are not with them all the time anymore. Keep your calendar clear the first few weeks you return to work.
Final Thoughts on Going Back to Work
Going back to work after maternity leave is hard, although it is inevitable for lots of new moms. Try some of these coping methods listed above to help with the anxiety of returning to work after baby. Furthermore, prepare in advance to ease some of that new mom pain and guilt as you return back to work.