From easing back in with a trial run to adhering to a smart plan, here are 10 answers to the question, “What are some tips you have for mothers returning to work after having a baby?”
- Prepare a Trial Run of the Morning Routine
- Do a Stepped Return
- Prioritize Your Mental Health First
- Lean into the Discomfort
- Get Yourself Ready to Spend Time Apart
- Always Have a Backup Caregiver
- Feel Ok Enjoying Your Time Away from Your Baby
- Make a Plan Before You Head Back to Work
- Check Company Policy for Benefits and Facilities
- Find a Way to Pump During the Workday
Prepare a Trial Run of the Morning Routine
As a mother returning to the office, you probably recall how it looked before your maternity leave. But now, many things are different, including your morning routine.
With a child on a board, you will have less time than before to get down to work, and your morning schedule will be different. Do not let it surprise you.
Make a trial run of your “business morning” before and wake up earlier in the first week of returning. It will save you from at least some of the stress.
Do a Stepped Return
When I returned to work after having my baby, I was nervous about how I would balance everything. I talked to other moms and did some research, and the best advice I found was to do a stepped return.
This means gradually increasing the days and hours you’re away from your baby until you’re back to working full time. For me, this meant starting with two days a week, then adding an extra day every couple of weeks. It was a slow process, but it gave me time to adjust and transitioned back to work much easier.
If you’re thinking of returning to work after having a baby, I would definitely recommend doing a stepped return. It’s a great way to ease into things and make sure you’re still able to spend quality time with your little one.
Prioritize Your Mental Health First
One of the most important things for mothers returning to work after having a baby is to prioritize their mental health. It’s difficult to manage the demands of a full-time job and motherhood, and it’s important to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself both physically and emotionally.
One way to do this is to set aside time each day for yourself, even if it’s just a few minutes. Whether you use this time to read, take a walk, or simply sit in silence, making time for yourself will help you recharge and feel more capable of managing the demands of work and motherhood.
Additionally, it’s important to be honest with your employer about your needs and boundaries. If you need flexible hours or the occasional work-from-home day, don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. By prioritizing your mental health, you’ll be setting yourself up for success both at work and at home.
Lean into the Discomfort
I went back to work eight weeks after my second child was born. I knew sending her to daycare would mean lots of interruptions to my schedule—taking extra sick days since she would be exposed to lots of other babies, forgetting important things like blankets, extra clothes, or extra diapers, etc.
I was such a perfectionist and drove myself mad trying to remember and balance all the things. But once I started leaning into the chaos and expecting interruptions to my schedule, life magically felt easier. It no longer felt like an interruption or challenge when I had to step outside my normal workflow.
Leaving your baby to go back to work is hard enough; don’t make it harder on yourself by fighting against uncomfortable feelings. Accept life’s different now and you can’t be the same employee you were before the baby.
Get Yourself Ready to Spend Time Apart
One challenge for a mother returning to work after maternity leave is getting herself, and the baby used to spend time apart. After weeks or months together, you may consciously or subconsciously worry about the baby, and this is understandable.
However, instead of focusing on your work, you daydream about your child and get distracted. Your mental unpreparedness to leave your child with somebody else makes it difficult to find yourself at work and to adapt to changes that may have occurred in the company.
So before you return to work, get used to being away from your child. Start by leaving your baby with a nanny or family member every day for a few hours. Consider dropping off your child at daycare a few days early before you return to work. This way, you gradually get used to not being around, and you can finally focus on your professional duties while you work.
Always Have a Backup Caregiver
Arrange for child care as soon as possible, possibly even before or after your baby is born. Most centers and services have waiting lists, particularly for children under the age of two. Other people who care for your child may require time to organize their other obligations.
Have a backup caregiver for your child in case their regular caregivers become ill or become unavailable. This will relieve you of some stress and worry. The key is to find someone who can assist you on short notice and who you can trust. Friends, playgroup parents, grandparents, other relatives, and partners are all possibilities.
Feel Ok Enjoying Your Time Away from Your Baby
Earlier this year, I returned to work after taking a year off after my daughter’s birth. Leading up to it, I was worried about how much we would miss each other. She was born during the pandemic, so we spent a lot of time just the two of us.
There was an adjustment period, but especially once I knew my daughter was happy with her childcare, I started to love my time away from her. Going back to work helped me to reconnect with parts of my identity that I love but had lost while at home.
I’ve also realized that having time apart makes our time together that much better. I rarely get overwhelmed or lose my cool with her, and she rarely seems frustrated or sick of me. I love my daughter so much and appreciate every minute I have with her. I also appreciate my time without her.
Make a Plan Before You Head Back to Work
As someone that struggled after having my own child, I’d suggest you make a plan before you head back to work. Know what hours you’ll be working, whether you’ll need child care, and how much money you’ll need to make each month to cover your expenses.
It’s also vital to have a strong support network in place comprising friends or family members who can help with things like watching them for an evening so you can get some time for yourself. Finally, remember that it’s ok to ask for help—no one can do it all on their own!
Check Company Policy for Benefits and Facilities
While every HR team and hiring manager makes it a point to offer every assistance possible to a new mother returning to work, it is always possible that they might have missed mentioning a few details.
Therefore, diving deep into the company’s policy will help you check on crucial information. Arrangements offered by companies could range from extra remuneration for daycare or even partnerships with in-house daycare facilities to easy working hours or a shift to a less-stressful job position to enable a new mother to handle her new responsibilities as a mom with relative freedom.
Learning about these and more potential benefits and facilities is possible only when you check in with the employee handbook or company policy for specific information related to mothers returning to work.
Find a Way to Pump During the Workday
Studies show that breastfeeding mothers are more likely to experience higher levels of stress and exhaustion, which can negatively affect their ability to function at their best.
One way to combat this is to find a way to pump during the workday. This can be challenging, but a combination of creativity and determination can help you find a way to successfully accomplish this.
Some employers are required to provide a private space to pump, so ask your HR department if this is available to you. If not, perhaps you can use a conference room or find a coworker who would let you use their office.