Six Tips for Going Back to Work Post-Baby
Parenting Pro and Entrepreneur in Residence Rosie Pope helps make the transition to work from maternity leave a little bit easier.
Going back to work after you’ve had a baby is often equal parts heart-breaking—and relief (grown-ups to talk to during the day?! Yes!). One of the many skills you have to perfect when becoming a mother is learning how to handle the feeling that you are being split in two. If you’re going back to work, figuring out a way to merge your home life and your work life in a way that complements both is essential. It is never easy, but with a few tips up your sleeve, you can do it with grace and end up teaching very valuable lessons to your little ones, while simultaneously furthering your career.
1. Accept that it’s not easy
Understand that no matter how much you may think you need to get out of the house, the transition to work will be hard. Acceptance is the first step, so the feeling that you are missing a limb does not come as a shock. It’s not easy, but it’s normal. This little baby has, after all, been literally attached to you for the better part of a year. You must remind yourself why you are working, whether it be for finances, personal ambition and enrichment or all of those things and more, and remember that it is benefiting your baby, because a healthy, happy you is exactly what they need.
2. Stay connected with your baby during the day
Establish ways that your babysitter or nursery can send you updates and pictures throughout the day. Depending on your work, text or email may be best. Being able to see your baby playing, knowing she is napping and staying in tune with all the other milestones of the day will put you at ease and allow you to feel more connected.
3. Have a breastfeeding strategy
If you are breastfeeding and would like to continue, make sure you have a plan for pumping and ensure your place of work is following the regulations for providing a private area for you to do so. Remember, supply is affected by demand so if you start pumping less, your supply will decrease. Try not to beat yourself up if this happens and adjust your goals—work is unpredictable—rather, give yourself a pat on the back for whatever you're able to accomplish.
4. Have a proper narrative about your kids with your co-workers
Of course there are going to be those people you can share stories with all the time about your little ones and certainly in some industries more so than others, but when talking about leaving early for a child’s doctor’s appointment or having to be out because your baby is sick, don’t feel guilty or self-conscious about it around those who don’t have children. The narrative you employ to explain to others where you have been or where you are going does not have to be apologetic or insecure, otherwise we will never be able to change the perception that somehow moms don’t work as hard once they have kids. Never be shy about letting others know that while your day may be split up a little differently sometimes, you are still putting in the necessary time, perhaps early in the morning or late at night. If you keep your work quality high and your confidence in your choices equally so, you will be respected for it and pave the way for other working moms.
5. Be positive about work
We have a tendency to apologize to our kids for working. Do the phrases: “I’m so sorry, Mommy has to take a work call,” or “I’m so sorry, Mommy has to go to work, but it will be the weekend soon,” sound familiar? While it may be how you are feeling, if you paint the picture of work being an evil thing that takes you away from the ones you love, your children will grow to resent it. Instead, be positive about your work. Let your children know what you do. Help them be proud of you and look forward to a time when they will be able to work themselves.
6. Plan your next vacation
Look out to the future for the next time you won’t have to be at work and can spend the whole day with your little one(s). Perhaps it’s the weekend, an upcoming holiday or even the next date you will be eligible to take vacation. Knowing, even if it’s not close, when you will be able to wake up and not rush out of the house, makes all those days that you have to, that much more bearable.
For more expert advice from Rosie Pope, read her recent columns on the site and visit her online at RosiePope.com and @RosiePope on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Also! Attention new moms—Rosie’s new nursing collection is now available online (“…because who doesn’t want a little bit of pretty when you haven’t had the chance to wash your hair in days?!” – Rosie).
Image Courtesy of Ivanka Trump. Illustration by Jonny Ruzzo