Whether or not you are looking forward to returning to work from your maternity leave, the transition can be quite emotional – juggling family and your career can cause stress, anxiety, and pressure. But going back to work can be manageable – follow these nine steps, starting even before having a baby, to make things smoother.
Before Your Maternity Leave
1. Have a Return Plan
Who will handle your projects and obligations while you are away? This should be discussed with your supervisor before going on leave, along with having a written agreement of how you will transition back to work when leave is over.
During Your Maternity Leave
2. Catch Up!
Reduce any first-day anxiety by meeting with your supervisors and other relevant co-workers before your return. This will help you understand the expectations for when you come back to work, and you’ll be prepared for what to get caught up on.
3. Do a Practice Run
Your routine during maternity leave has likely been very different than your previous workday routine. You’re out of practice, so you need to get used to a new process, such as setting your alarm, getting your work items ready, feeding your baby, taking your baby to daycare with all the required items or preparing instructions for your nanny, and driving into the office. Figure out what responsibilities you and your partner will have ahead of time so that on Day One, you’ll be ready.
4. Try to Get Baby on a Sleep Schedule
If only it were that easy! But getting your baby on a routine sleep schedule before returning to work will make it an easier transition for both of you.
5. Have a Child Care Plan
Babies get sick, daycare centers sometimes close, and nannies have days off or call in sick. When that happens, will you or your partner stay home with the baby? Do you have an alternative babysitter or a relative that can stay with the baby so you can get to work? (If you sign up with A New England Nanny, we’ll have this situation covered.)
6. Time to Go Shopping?
Pregnancy and breastfeeding often change a mother’s body. The outfits you wore to work before your pregnancy may not fit the way you like any more, so try them on before going back to work. You may need to head to the mall to update your wardrobe.
Returning to Work
7. Have Accurate Expectations
The hardest part about returning to work is the first few weeks. Try to start with smaller projects as you get used to the routine. Take your time and allow yourself some breathing room to ease the adjustment.
8. Slow Down
Your first week back might be more manageable if you return in the middle of the week instead of on a Monday. If you can start with three or four days a week, or with reduced hours each day, that will help as you gradually get back to your full-time hours. Make sure you know what time you’re leaving work each day – you’ll likely be more productive during the day.
9. Be Prepared to Pump
If you will be breastfeeding your baby, you might want to keep a second breast pump at work plus an insulated bag to carry the bottles home. You may even want to get a car adapter or a battery-operated pump if you need to pump while commuting. Believe it or not, having a photo of your baby with you can help with the let-down reflex. Be sure to schedule pumping times on your work calendar.
Nursing mothers have federal workplace protections, including having reasonable break times and a place, other than a bathroom, where you can privately pump.
A New England Nanny is here to help! Whether you need full-time or occasional child care or senior care, or if you just want your house cleaned or pet looked after, we can assist. Contact us at (518) 348-0400.