When Mommy Goes Back to Work
Returning to the office and your career after having a baby can be fraught with contradictory emotions. On one hand you may feel excited about returning to a job you feel passionate about and the adult conversation that accompanies it. And at the same time, it might feel like you’re abandoning your new child. Chances are that as you reacquaint yourself with the work world you left not so long ago, you’ll feel both these things and more. Don’t panic. This is normal, and almost every working mother you talk to can probably sympathize with the bumps of this transition. Luckily there are several things you can do to make the reentry back into work an easier one.
Make a New Schedule and Practice It – Will your child be going to daycare or have a baby sitter? A week before you begin working again, begin the habit of rising early and taking your baby to daycare. These five days of practice will help you work out the kinks of the routine needed to get your baby ready for the day. Give yourself as much time as possible in the beginning to allow room for the unexpected, because somehow with babies there is always the element of surprise. It’s also a good idea to give yourself an early bedtime to compensate for the feedings during the night. Ask your spouse/partner to help too so that you can get enough sleep to function at work.
Check In With Your Boss – If at all possible, try to login to your work email before you return to the office. Any email that you can weed through ahead of time will pay off when you’re back at your desk. It’s also helpful to write out what you believe your work schedule will look like and ascertain what your work load is shaping up to be. Then schedule a time to meet with your boss or supervisor so that you’re both on the same page with similar expectations. Given the emotional rollercoaster that returning to work can be, worrying about what your boss is expecting shouldn’t be added to the stress.
Pumping At Work – Again, preparation is key to making this as smooth a process as possible at work. Discuss with your employer the best way to organize your day around pumping breaks. You’ll need several 15-20 minute breaks during the day. Scout ahead to find a private room to pump, and if your company doesn’t provide a lactation room then look for an unoccupied office or conference room. Also plan on building up an emergency supply of breast milk by pumping and freezing it so that you have enough for the nights that you may get home later than planned. This will also help reduce your stress knowing that your baby won’t go hungry if you’re running late.
There will be definite highs and lows when you return to work after having your baby, but it doesn’t have to be traumatizing for either of you. With a little practice and planning, returning to the office can be a smooth process and a productive one.