Returning to work after taking maternity leave is a mixture of emotions for many women. Knowing how to prepare for them is key, as is knowing that you're not alone, regardless of how you feel.
The day is marked on your calendar, and is creeping closer, and closer. Whether you feel dread, or a tinge of excitement, you're not the first mom to return to work feeling that way! Full-time working moms have a lot to juggle, and often emotions are at the top of the list. Once you've arranged your daycare situation, and begin preparing your breast pump to be your new full-time friend, let’s have an honest and real post about the unspoken - the feelings involved with returning to work after maternity leave.
Many people admit to feeling regretful about returning to work, and confess to being frightened that they will miss important milestones with their baby. To be frank, you may miss that first roll-over, or the first crawl. However, the thrill that you will get when you see your child do it for the first time with you is sure to excite you, just the same. Remember to think positively and lightly about it! You may also be missing their first temper tantrum, or the first time they haul off and hit their peer. It's a give and take thing. Also, keep in mind the benefit of time apart from your baby - you will surely make the most of every single second you have with them, taking no time for granted. After all, it really is about the quality of time you spend with your children and not the quantity.
Does the thought of not being vomit covered for an extended part of your day somewhat excite you? Are you looking forward to adult conversation, and the feeling of productivity? You're not alone! Many times, moms are simply happier returning to work. It doesn't make you any less of a mom because you choose to work, and not stay at home full time. Whether you work for enjoyment or career fulfillment, you are not the first mom to be anticipating her return.
The schematics involved with getting you and your child ready, and dropped off at daycare while on a tight schedule can be stressful in itself. Juggling a deadline and family priorities can be difficult, and at times you may feel very overwhelmed. If applicable, try to keep your communication with your spouse open, positive and productive. Talk to him/her about your feelings, and try to come up with an alternative plan if you begin to feel as if you are nearing your breaking point. Also, talk to your supervisor! If they are pressuring you, voice your opinion with a simple sentence such as, "I want this project to be top notch, but am struggling with the deadline and completing it all during my work hours." Maybe there is someone else that can help you out, or maybe you can adjust your hours or work from home in order to complete it. You never know until you ask!
So, you’re busy juggling a crazy combination of regret, excitement, and stress with your impending return to work, but what can you actually do about it? Here are some tips for managing this mixed bag of emotions as you prepare to return to work:
- Find comfort in the fact that you are not alone! Talk to a co-worker or friend or family member who is also a working mom. It helps to have someone to relate to who can empathize with you.
- Practice your morning routine a few days before you actually return to work. See how long it really takes you to get ready and get yourself and baby out the door (especially if you have to do a daycare drop-off).
- Plan a few daycare/nanny/babysitter trial runs before you actually head back to work. The first time you leave your baby for a day, or even just a few hours, will be the toughest. Save yourself some tears by having your first day back at work NOT be your first day leaving baby.
- Prepare everything for each work day the night before. Get bottles, your breast pump, baby clothes, your clothes, diaper bag, lunches and any other essentials all lined up the night before you work. This will ease the stress of getting out the door each morning. After all, actually getting to work is usually the hardest battle.
- Keep in mind that it will get easier as time goes on. The first week back will be the roughest. Over time you and your baby will adjust to your work schedule. Any stress or anxiety you feel will dissipate and you will develop a flawless routine. Hang in there!
- Take a deep breath. You can do this! Millions of women with young children return to work. And you know what? Those women have children who are just as happy and loved as the children of stay at home moms. You need to be comfortable in your choice to do what’s best for your family, whether you work because you truly love it or because you need the income. Embrace your working mom status!
Ariel is a full-time working mom of two who is married to her high school sweetheart. When she isn’t working or playing with her young kiddos, you can find her writing on her personal blog, Dreams To Do. Ariel is a lover of inspirational words, photography, coffee, reality TV, and of course, her family.