I was lucky to have four months off (almost completely paid) when I had my daughter. Before I went back to work, I got some tips from various friends. So I compiled the best advice I got here in one place for any moms going back to work after maternity leave:
1. Go back to work mid-week.
You don’t want to have to jump back into a whole week right away. It’ll be exhausting… mentally, physically, emotionally. So do yourself a favor and plan your first day back as a Wednesday or Thursday. It’ll help you ease into things and not wear yourself out too much right away.
2. Take your little one to daycare (or have the nanny come) a couple days before you go back to work.
This does a couple things for you — first, it allows you to mentally prepare for leaving your little one. It’s tough… I’m not going to lie. But, you’ll both be okay.
Your kid will get great care from licensed, trained professionals. They’ll get socialized (if they’re at a daycare/ nanny share).
You’ll get to use the work part of your brain again and have adult conversations.
I took my daughter to daycare on Monday and Tuesday and by the time I went to work on Wednesday, she was smiling at her teacher when I dropped her off. That made it much easier! Also, it meant I wasn’t bawling my eyes out driving to work.
Secondly, it gives you time to take care of some stuff before you’re back at work. Get a massage, get a haircut, have lunch with a friend, see a movie, have a day date, or get a new ‘back to work’ outfit. Any of these things. Or do nothing — sit and watch Netflix (although I got plenty of Netflix in while breastfeeding, so I was caught up). I found the combination of productive and fun stuff to be best for me — organized my closet with work clothes, etc.
3. Protect your evening time.
You may feel overwhelmed as you get back into the swing of things. You’re jumping back in, trying to catch up on things, and trying to prove yourself. But, your time with your kiddo is so precious and they grow so fast. So turn off your phone and close the laptop. At least until they go to sleep 🙂
4. Make sure you still make time for YOU after you go back to work.
It’ll be hard… you’re trying to juggle. But, do your friends night. Go to the gym. You’re able to be a better mom when you’re rested and healthy and taking care of your well-being.
It’s just like how on the airplane when you have an emergency, they tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others with theirs. You can’t help others if you’re not breathing yourself. This is one thing I struggle with the most. But, it’s so important. Take help when it’s offered (this is a good rule after you have your baby, too).
5. Give yourself time to ramp up.
Don’t be too tough on yourself. Pace yourself when it comes to diving back into work. Don’t take on too much at once and just let yourself ease in (as much as possible). Set up a plan with your boss and if they’re open to it, work remote one or two days a week initially at least so you can help the transition.
Would love to hear any other tips you have to share. And if you’re heading back to work after mat leave, Godspeed!