Kissing your baby goodbye every morning can be tough. Make the transition back to the office a little easier with these tips
Get your childcare plan in place before going back to work.
"I joined online parenting forums while I was still pregnant, and networked with local parents to find childcare options," says Julia Levy, a mom of two in Austin, Texas. "It’s certainly not something I would have wanted to do when the brain fog set in postpartum. Knowing that my baby would be in good hands when I returned to work helped me relax during my leave."
Speak up about work flexibility.
"When I was 16 weeks pregnant, I met with my boss and asked if working part-time would be possible," says Jennifer Rouse, a mom of three in Albany, Oregon. "We ended up creating a plan that gave me the flexibility to work from home three days a week. By respectfully voicing my needs and being open to suggestion, I helped my workplace help me make a more natural transition back to work."
Make it a team effort.
"My husband only took a few days off after our daughter was born, and then took an entire week off when I went back to work," says Jessica Meierotto, a mom of two from Des Moines, Iowa. "It made that first week so much easier. I only had to worry about getting myself out the door instead of getting my daughter to daycare. It was also nice for the two of them to get some quality time together."
Don’t let guilt get to you.
"Be honest with yourself about how you feel about being back at work," says Carrie Contey, Ph.D., an early parenting consultant and author. "Acknowledge that sometimes you’re sad to leave your baby, and sometimes you feel happy to go to work. It's all normal. And try to take care of yourself—eat well, get as much sleep as you can. It’s not a luxury—when you’re physically well, you feel less overwhelmed."
Decide ahead of time with your husband how you’ll divide and conquer household tasks when you’re working again. Who wants to argue about taking out the garbage when you have a baby to adore?
Decorate your office.
On your first day back at work, bring along a few framed photos of your baby—for your viewing pleasure, of course, but also to spark conversation with coworker parents about being a new mom. You’ll feel less alone knowing that colleagues have also been spit up on by breakfast time.
Be here now.
"When you are with your child, be with your child, talking, singing, cuddling, and not preoccupying yourself with work matters," says Contey. "And when you’re at work, try to make it satisfying, with scheduled breaks to call your caregiver. Being mindful of where you direct your attention will keep you focused and balanced."