Going Back to Work

5 Tips to Make the Transition a Little Easier

For many moms, going back to work isn’t a choice—it’s a financial necessity. Transitioning from maternity leave back to work can be fraught with emotion, especially guilt. You may feel guilty that you have to leave your baby at all, or you may feel horrible that you’re actually looking forward to heading back to the office. Both are completely normal feelings, but when they threaten to take over, try to remember this: You are NOT a bad mother because you work. You’re providing for your family. You’re being a role model. You’re doing something that fulfills you in a special way. The rest of the time? You’re loving and playing and bonding with your baby, who loves no one the way she loves you. Now, it may take you a little time to get to this place. The good news? There are a few simple steps that can speed the process:

  1. Find a childcare provider you trust. Granted, this takes legwork, but knowing that your child is with someone caring, safe, and skilled will ease a lot of worry. Check out ChildCareAware.org for what to look for in a provider and what types of options you have. If you’ve got a relative (hello, Grandma!) who can help, great, but if not, there are plenty of other options, including formal daycare centers and group care at a provider’s home. What matters most is finding the right fit for your child.
  2. Start the new routine a week early. You don’t want the first day you’re actually separated from your baby to be your first day back at work. Make it easier on yourself and ease into it. About a week before, start getting up, getting ready and out the door on your new schedule. You don’t have to leave your child with the sitter or at daycare all day, if you don’t want to. Feel free to start with a few hours and then build from there so that by day one, you’re both a bit more prepared.
  3. Go back on a Wednesday or Thursday. If your employer allows, try to have your first week be a short one. That way you’ll have the weekend to recoup and reconnect.
  4. Ask your employer about lactation space if you plan on pumping. The federal government now requires companies with 50 or more employees to provide reasonable break time for nursing moms to express milk—as well as a clean, private place (that’s not a bathroom) to do it. To learn more about your rights in the workplace, visit the National Alliance for Breastfeeding Advocacy at Naba-breastfeeding.org.
  5. Delegate, delegate, delegate—at home. If you have a spouse or a partner, now is the time to talk about splitting up house duties. How you divide things up doesn’t matter, just as long as you do. One more thing: Making sure you each of you get some downtime is part of this division of labor. And before you even think, “But I’m already spending so much time away from the baby!” hear this: The old adage that happy moms raise happy kids is 100 percent true. So find time to go get your nails done or have coffee with your girlfriends. You’ll be calmer, more focused, more you. Your baby—and your boss—will thank you.

This article was written by the publishers of Parents and American Baby magazines.

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