Are you worried about going back to work after having a baby? Here are a few tips to help this transition go more smoothly.
But first, check in with yourself.
Maternity leave is a mix of highs and lows. On one hand, we experience the joys of raising our child and being there for her daily. On the other, it can be a very challenging and isolating time. This period affects us all differently, and our experience can significantly impact how we feel about re-entering the workforce. Before we go on and talk about tips and tricks for staying on top of your game when you go back to work, take a moment to acknowledge how you are doing. How does this make you feel (insert shrink voice here)? Jokes aside, this is not a time to be in denial and bottle up your emotions because they will catch up with you down the road, trust me on this. All feelings are welcome. Are you sad? This is totally normal; cry it out if you need to. Are you excited to connect with your co-workers yet feel guilty about looking forward to going back? Your feelings are valid. Are you worried about juggling life as a full-time working mom? I hear you loud and clear. Take a minute to write down any fears you have about going back.
Now that you have gotten some of those emotions off your chest, let’s get into the practical side of things.
1- Have a plan
As a new parent, you’ve probably already noticed that “just winging it” and raising children don’t always go hand in hand. I have learned that the more I plan, the more equipped I am to face most situations. This also goes for returning to work. If you want it to go smoothly, think things through beforehand. In the few weeks before your return, it’s essential to ask yourself the following; what will the family’s schedule be like, who is doing pick-ups and drop-offs from daycare, and who can you reach out to if you are stuck in crazy traffic or an endless meeting, and so on. Doing this will help you manage your expectations and feel in control. Start by planning your week with your partner every Sunday evening and take it from there.
2- Create a keyless life
What is this about, you may ask? When author and speaker Denise Duffield-Thomas became a mom, she was compelled to simplify her life and eliminate as much friction in her day as possible. She calls this a “keyless life,” which refers to having keyless locks on your car. Can’t find the keys? No sweat; your door will open as long as they are in your bag. Now I’m not suggesting you buy a car with keyless locks; however, I am suggesting that you look at your daily life and figure out where you can remove unnecessary stress and friction. If you are a major procrastinator like me, applying this philosophy will allow you to breeze through the day. Here are a few examples:
- Start your day off on the right foot by planning your mornings. Click here to download my free guide,” 5 TIPS FOR SMOOTH MORNINGS.”
- Start meal planning, or subscribe to a meal delivery service for a few nights a week to eliminate the stress of cooking. This has been a significant game changer in my home.
- Stock your freezer. I keep mine well stocked with loads of staples that allow me to whip something up fast and meals I have cooked in batches.
- Get subscriptions for items you buy often and don’t want to run out of (diapers, for example).
- Put all bill payments on automatic.
- Use the one-touch rule and never let things accumulate.
- Keep your home organized and clutter-free by regularly removing things you don’t need. An example of this can be keeping a bin in the closet for kids’ clothes that are too small. When something doesn’t fit, stash it immediately. Then, when the bin is full, store them or donate them.
- Create a joint e-mail account and calendar for you and your partner for anything you have in common. This way, either of you can e-mail the school or pay a bill. You are both in the loop and accountable.
You can make your list of tasks that are the bane of your existence and brainstorm ways to make them keyless. This hack is a real game-changer. Check out this post for more inspo.
3- Manage expectations
Going back to work after my daughter was tough because I had such high expectations of myself. I wanted to prove I could do it all. “Hell yeah, I’m going to nail the working mom life!” Boy, I was wrong. It wasn’t until I learned to manage my expectations of myself and help others understand my limits that things started to fall into place. Have a conversation with your boss to make sure they understand your situation. In my case, I eventually made it clear that overtime was not in my perceivable future due to my responsibilities to my family. This was important to me. I didn’t want to have to deal with the mom guilt of picking up my child late at daycare and having only 30 minutes with her before it was her bedtime. This might not be an issue for you, our struggles and priorities are different, but one thing remains; it is essential to accept that your life is more complicated post-baby. Your plate is full with new responsibilities and obligations, and your day starts well before you set foot in the office door. So have those crucial conversations with the people in your life and learn to say no when necessary. You’ll thank me later.
4- Don’t forget yourself
I know; how is this even possible at this point, with all this added responsibility? It certainly is not easy, but with the stress, this new daily life will bring, it is essential to keep yourself on your priority list. Make some time for the things you love and plan them into your week because they will not just happen. Here are some tips on how to reconnect with yourself post-baby. And make sure you are getting enough rest. Check out this post for more.
Take it one step at a time.
I like to think of going back to work after having a baby, like building a tower of blocks. You need a solid foundation first. If your focus is on how tall you want the tower to be, it is sure to crumble, sending you back to square one.
Take a deep breath and be kind to yourself. You will need time to adjust to this new reality, and that’s totally ok.