Going Back to Work after Maternity Leave
You have given birth to your precious bundle of love. You’ve taken your maternity leave of absence from work. Now, it’s time to return to work. What can you do to ease this transition?
- Leaving baby at home while you return to work will likely be one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do. Prepare for the emotions that come with this transition: grief, sadness, and guilt for leaving your baby and your home; excitement and apprehension about returning to your job; a sense of being stressed and overwhelmed by it all. Accept your emotions as valid and normal. Reason through what you can to decompress on your negative emotions as much as possible. Focus on the positive. Find solutions to any concerns that can reasonably be addressed.
- Talk about what you are going through with a good listener. Ideally, your listener will be someone who has had a similar experience in her life and thus can relate to your experience.
- During this transition back to work, keep other things in your life as consistent as possible. This is not the time to redecorate your living room, assume an additional civic responsibility, etc.
- Get as much rest as you reasonably can.
- Do things that relax you. For example, you may play soft, slow music in the background at home and/or at work. You may take a half hour for yourself and get a massage every Friday afternoon. You may go for runs, use aromatherapy, indulge (moderately) in your favorite comfort foods, etc.
- Acknowledge that it’s ok to cry. You probably don’t want to cry in front of your co-workers, but you can allow yourself to experience your emotions in private moments. These are moments of healthy emotional release.
- Ask for help. If you think you are Wonder Woman and can do it all by yourself, you are likely mistaken. Therefore, rely on a well chosen nanny at home, administrative assistant at work, etc. (Please refer to a separate blog on choosing your first nanny for your newborn baby.) Visit with your employer about options available to you: some employers offer onsite daycare centers, payroll withholdings to cover childcare expenses, flextime, telecommuting, and other employment offerings that may ease your transition back to work and make being a working mom a little easier too.
- Make the transition as gradually as you can. For example, return to work part-time, perhaps 20 hours per week. Expect to be exhausted after your workday is done. Your body has been through a lot, and you are probably not getting a full night’s sleep to boot, so becoming easily exhausted is normal. After you acclimate to working 20 hours per week, increase your hours to 25 or 30 hours per week. Ultimately, you can resume working 40 (or 40+) hours per week.
By following these tips, you can ease your transition from maternity leave to returning to work.