- Why it’s hard
- Advice & methods to a smooth transition
Those of you with kids all know that maternity leave is not a vacation by any means! Out of 41 countries, the US is the only country that does not offer paid maternity leave. Many people have to take short-term disability and those that are lucky enough to work for companies (like SPECTRAFORCE) that have a policy built-in, usually find themselves going back into the workplace only three months after their baby is born.
In short, going back to work after maternity leave, no matter how short or long it is, is hard.
Reasons why it is hard:
1. You have to leave your baby in the care of others for the first time
2. You suddenly have to switch gears from 100% caring for your baby to full-time work and part-time baby care. Usually, the time you spend with your baby tends to be during the “witching hour”!
3. You have to catch up on everything that has transpired at work since you left for maternity leave
4. You have thousands of emails
5. You miss your baby
6. You feel like you are having an out of body experience as your perspective has drastically shifted since you last stepped place in your office
In short, it can be a very overwhelming and emotional time for mothers as they re-enter the workplace.
Below are advice and methods to help with the transition. A few are from my own experience and others are crowdsourced from other mothers:
1. Take a deep breath… Focus on the positives. One of my friends told me to just be excited about the prospect of using the restroom alone! Sounds silly but it did make me feel better. Enjoy the simple things like drinking HOT coffee solo etc. It is easy to keep the “mom hat” on, but try and take it off for those few hours…
2. Do a practice run in the morning before you go back. Getting ready for work with a baby is a whole new ball-game and giving yourself an idea of how much time you need. Factoring in last-minute blow out’s or mishaps. will make you feel more calm leading up to your first day
3. Think about the fact that you get to have some of your identity back. You before baby. This is healthy (whether you are a working mother or not!)
4. Full inbox? Take all of your unread messages and put them in a “maternity leave” folder. This way you have a searchable file for context.
5. Spend your first few days/weeks catching up with co-workers, finding out what has changed, what you have missed, and what action items you need to start with. Take notes, write a priority list, and get on it!
6. If you are still breastfeeding, you are likely to have to pump several times a day. I highly recommend a portable pump (I used the Spectra S1 ). They also now have wearable pumps such as Willow. I’m jealous this didn’t exist when I was pumping…for a year! However, if you don’t want to drop the cash on the wearable one at least get Freemie cups so that you don’t have to undress from the waist down every time you pump!
7. Speaking of pumping, add your sessions to your work calendar and prioritize that time. Scroll through pictures of your sweet baby while you are pumping to help it go faster with production.
8. Bring a change of clothes. Leaking and pumping mishaps can happen as you get used to being away from your baby in the workplace. Having a spare set of clothes handy will put your mind at ease if anything happens to you!
9. Most of all, give yourself grace. It is a big adjustment and not every day is going to be easy and that’s ok it’s perfectly normal! If you have an off day, acknowledge it, and think of the next morning as a day for a new start. When you feel discouraged, remember your “why” and “who”
Photo courtesy of Annabel Pickens