Returning to work after maternity leave can be difficult and filled with mixed emotions, even for the most organized of moms. Finding a good caregiver, adjusting to your previous work schedule, and getting yourself and baby ready each morning are just some of the challenges that many new moms face. With a little planning, you can be back on top of your game in no time. Below are a few tips to help make your transition back to work seamless, for both you and your newborn.
1. Maintain a Fixed Schedule
When figuring out how to juggle your work responsibilities and those as a new mom, creating a schedule can help ensure that nothing gets overlooked. Decide whether you or your partner will take or pick-up the baby from daycare. If you need to attend an early-morning meeting or stay late to finish a project, let your partner know as soon as possible. No matter who handles which tasks, make sure that everyone involved maintains the same schedule for your baby’s naps, meals, bath and bedtime. This will help your baby to get accustomed to a daily routine and make your life easier in the long run.
2. Compile a List of Daily Tasks
A common debate for new parents is who will be responsible for the less desirable tasks, such as changing a dirty diaper or lulling a fussy baby back to sleep at 3 a.m. With your partner, create a list of daily tasks, and decide who will tackle each one. For example, if you handle the feedings, perhaps your partner could handle bath time. Assigning the tasks in advance helps avoid arguments about who will do what when needs arise, and helps ensure that no person gets stuck with the lion’s share of the work.
3. Make the Transition Gradual
Adjusting to work life after maternity leave is often easier when done gradually. Consider working from home, working part-time, or requesting more flexible hours. Before cutting back on work hours, however, run the numbers with your partner to make sure that both of you will still be able to cover financial obligations. To further ease the transition, you may want to return to work in the middle of the week. Also, consider having your baby’s caregiver or daycare center watch your baby a few times before you return to work. Doing so can help your baby to start adapting to the people who will be caring for him or her, and vice versa.
4. Considerations for Lactating at Work
If you’re breast-feeding, make sure you’ve left the caregiver with plenty of breast milk and instructions for the day. Some moms may choose to lactate while at work, in which case you’d need to determine where and when you can do so. Before creating a make-shift lactation room at the office, ask your human resource department if there’s a designated area available. Also, some companies may offer a lactation program as a part of an employee benefits package, which includes access to a lactation consultant.
5. Soothe Your Separation Anxiety
Babies can show signs of separation anxiety as early as 6 or 7 months old, according to the BabyCenter Medical Advisory Board. Although a 3-month-old may not yet experience separation anxiety, it’s natural for new moms to feel sad, even guilty, about leaving their infant in someone else’s care. One way to overcome this is to have your baby’s caregiver send you updates or pictures of your baby throughout the day, to help put your mind at ease. Some daycare centers have a camera system that enables you to “check” periodically on your baby while you’re at work.