6 Ways to Head Back to Work After Having a Baby
Return to work after maternity leave with ease.
Whether you’ve just had your first child or fifth, life has inevitably changed. In addition to changes in your body, mood, diet, and of course sleep (or lack of sleep), one of the hardest transitions is going back to work after mat leave or parental leave.
Regardless of how long you have been away from work getting back into the swing of things, adapting to changes in your workplace, and managing your new family while being at work all day can be tiresome and even confusing at times.
Here are six tips to help you transition back to work from your maternity leave.
1. Finding the Right Childcare, Well in Advance
The worst thing you can do is start your baby off in childcare on your first day back to work. Alternatively, try to plan for a slow transition for the whole family to work through at least two to three weeks before you go back. The first week can act as your integration week giving your little one a few hours a day away from you.
Ramp up the time that they are in daycare, Montessori or private school (based on what your final choice is) each day to help them slowly get used to a new routine, surroundings, and people. If you speak to your provider in advance most are very flexible when it comes to finding the right transitional routine for each child. During the time that baby is away, use the time to prepare your home, get some new work clothes and get yourself mentally prepared for going back to work.
2. Plan Ahead for Meal Time
Figuring out meals for the family during the first few weeks back to work can get tricky while everyone is getting used to new routines. Your child will inevitably be exhausted at the end of their day, so bath and bed may have to happen sooner than when you were at home. Consider preparing ingredients and freezing them on the weekend for use during the week, or subscribe to easy to make meal plans that deliver recipes and ingredients to your front door. If you are making a home cooked meal on the weekend, double the recipe so you have extras for during the week.
Slow Cookers are also a great time saver and meals can be ready for you the moment you walk in the door. If you need to also plan for some easy to make meals that take no time for your older kids, check out these easy recipes like 5 Spice Chicken and Peanut Butter Towers, Butter Fried Bologna & Raspberry Jam Puzzle Bites or Club Sandwich For Kids made with easy to prepare ingredients. With both you and your partner back to work, sharing the workload is critical! See where you can split days for meal preparation depending on what time each of you come home as well.
Try not to stress out too much; this can take some time to get the hang of as you work through your new realities and day-to-day changes. Worse case you can always depend on your trusty food delivery app!
3. Solidify Your Support Network
The one thing you will hear from every parent that you talk to is that you need to get ready for your little one getting sick. From the common cold, to ear infections steering clear of germs is simply impossible! The good news is that as your child gets older, these occurrences should decrease. The best thing you can do is to build up your support network of caretakers who can step in when you or your partner are unable to take time off work or to work from home. If you don’t have family members to step in, interview some nannies or an on-call sitter. Having these people on speed dial will be a lifesaver! If you are able to work from home, here are some great tips on how to keep the kids occupied, while you try and get some work done.
4. Onboarding After Maternity Leave
Speak to your employer about the option to transition back part-time rather than jumping in full-time on you first week back. If your company is routed well in employee training and development, you’ll have a good system in place to help you onboard after your leave. In addition, many businesses offer flex when onboarding after maternity leave, so take the time to find out more about your options. If your onboarding isn’t as strong as you’d like there are some things you can do to help yourself to get back into the swing of things.
When you’re back, work with your teams to understand their updated ways of working, meet new team members and share with them your experience with the little one! Take the time to ask for training on any software or processes that may have changed or you may need brushing up on to be successful. Work with your manager to develop the next three months, set yourself up for success by setting goals both short term, and long and asking for the resources or support you need to achieve them. If you are still nursing, have the discussion with your manager as well and find out what the company has in place to help support you with this decision. This can range from providing you time to pump as well as a place to store your milk until heading home.
5. Outsource Where Possible!
If the household can afford it, find the right fit for household chores while you head back to work. You are no longer stranger to the large amount of laundry or dishes that such a small person can create, so having someone to help where possible can help create a better work life balance. Think about other things that an external service provider can help with from mowing the lawn to house cleaning. Now that you’re back at work, time spent with the kids becomes that much more valuable so try and free up as much time as possible.
6. Talk to Someone
The pressures of returning to work, being a good mom, and having it all together can be very taxing. Your first few weeks can feel overwhelming. You may feel guilty about leaving your little one, or for having to leave work early, among tons of other things. Speaking to a professional about your feelings and concerns can help you manage all of it. If your company offers this service, take advantage of it. While your partner is also there to help, they may also be dealing with their own transitional issues. Speaking to someone that is truly unbiased can help. Also, consider joining one of the many social groups that are available which can provide tons of advice and tips to help you through this new stage.