You’ve been on maternity for 3 months and the dreaded return date is near. How you transition back into work can have so many variables and a huge impact on your outlook as a working mom. I’ve transitioned back to corporate after a 4 month maternity leave for both of my babies. A good friend shared with me that the sometimes the anticipation of the return can be much worse than the act of actually going back to work. Of course everyone is different.
What I learned with my first maternity leave was to enjoy the time in the present and not worry about the day I had to go back. I kept that mindset with my second leave and was able to savor the moments so much more. When the date of return got closer I did the following things to ease my transition. I also included links to other posts I’ve written on the various topics noted.
Clear the calendar!
For the first 2 weeks or month back to work, be sure to keep your weekends open. Family time becomes so very important when you are a working mom. Keeping the weekends open while you transition back to work will reduce your stress and overwhelm. Make your family the first priority when you are at home. It will also give you a lot of time for all the hugs and kisses you will give your little one.
Set-up a mid-to-end of the week start date.
Upon both returns, my first day back in the office was on a Wednesday. Try a Wednesday or Thursday start so you are closer to the weekend.
Part-time transition schedule.
If your employer will allow it, go back to work on a part-time schedule and ramp back up to full-time within a month or two.
Set your boundaries!
I always say it’s a delicate dance setting boundaries at work, but open communication will help build your work/life foundation as you get back into the work groove. You know how to navigate your office culture. If it’s a “manage your manager” type of environment, take advantage of the opportunities to set the expectations in the beginning. It will help you as you move down the work road.
Ease into the daycare world.
Whether you opt for a daycare situation, a nanny or grandparent care, ease into the program. Do something for yourself before heading back to work and start the drop-off routine process. Schedule a spa morning, get a pedicure or plan a haircut. Set your appointments on different days so you get more down time and you will get more practice dropping off your baby. It’s really in your best interest to practice a few drop-offs before your first day back at work. Click here to read more about daycare suggestions!
You’re just a cell phone call away.
I discussed with my manager that I will carry a cell phone (on vibrate of course) at all times since the daycare may call at any time. The last thing you want is to be in a never-ending meeting with the feeling of being disconnected from your baby. In fact, if I am at work as you read this article, I have my cell phone with me. Ok… with exception to when I use the restroom, but you get the picture!
Recognize the guilt.
It’s pretty common to cry, especially the first day you return to work. I did with both babies! Daycare is a common guilt trigger for working moms. Try to nurture yourself along the way and manage the guilt triggers. Give yourself a break by acknowledging the contribution you are making to your family by working.
Practice the blocking factor.
People will always give their comments and views about daycare and being a working mom. When I had my first baby, I imagined I was a football player blocking, weaving and ducking the people trying to jump on me with their comments and opinions.
Sounds silly… rather than engaging in a conversation that eventually led to me defending my choices, I have learned along the way that it’s worth my energy to focus on the things I am doing for my family and my career. It’s not important to me to make someone else feel better about my choices because for some reason they don’t agree with them. See The Choices We Make.
Saying “No” is ok!
Before kids, life was lived on a whim. You could do anything at almost any time. Being a working mom, time is of the essence. I’ve learned to say “no” to the things I don’t want to do or really don’t have time to do when I am not in the office. If it doesn’t fit, I simply decline.
“Me time” is so important.
A transition is just that… a transition, a passage, a changeover. It will take a bit of time to make the “changeover” back into the world of work. You will need “me time” and it is so valuable to get it in the weekly schedule.
A walk at lunch time, a coffee late night with a friend or a few minutes to stretch for relaxation. Whatever it may be that works for you… grab hold of the “me time” and include it as soon as possible during the transition back. Make it a part of your life for a better outlook, less stress and more energy.
Keep it positive!
You’ll make it through and look back only to realize the fabulous job you really did!