Whether you’re excited to get back to work or not, going back to work after baby arrives can be a tough transition. Change can be difficult to navigate at any time in life. Add in sleep deprivation and maybe some mama-guilt, and you might be feeling like it’s too much to handle.
But we’re here to remind you that you can do it! It’ll take time, setting boundaries, and maybe adjusting a few expectations, but you’ll get there in the end. After all, you’re doing what’s best for you and your family.
In this article: 📝
- How to deal with going back to work after baby
- Do babies suffer when mothers return to work?
- How long should you stay with your baby before going back to work?
- How do I cope with going back to work after having a baby?
How to deal with going back to work after baby
Heading back to work after maternity leave is a big deal. Whether you’ve had just a few months off, or extended maternity leave, there’s no doubt that you are returning to work a different person from the one you were when you left.
Juggling the different sides of your life can be a daunting prospect, but here are some tips to make the transition as smooth as possible.
1. Establish your new routine ahead of time.
If you can, try to get settled into your new routine a couple of weeks before your return to work. Giving your child an opportunity to start at their daycare center, or spend time with their nanny, before you have to go to work will help with the transition. Even if they just spend a couple of hours away from you at a time, it will start the ball rolling with the adjustment to the new normal for both of you. Time how long it takes in the morning to have breakfast, get ready, leave the house, and make it to your office, so your first day isn’t a mad rush.
2. Have regular check-ins with your workplace.
Some workplaces will offer check-in days throughout your maternity leave so you can catch up on what’s going on while you’re away. This could cut down on the inevitable anxiety over how you’ll fit back in when you return. If this isn’t something you have access to, ask to have a catch-up on your first day back, so you feel integrated back into the team from the get-go.
3. Be open with your boss.
Whether it’s establishing your working hours, limiting your involvement in projects that would require you to travel, or establishing your rights when it comes to taking unplanned leave (because let’s face it, babies get sick), being open with your boss is so important right now. Be mindful of what you need from them, and what they need from you. Consider what you’re willing to do (or not), and remind them that by setting these boundaries, you are setting yourself up for success — not shirking responsibilities.
4. Set expectations with your colleagues.
You used to be the last one in the office, with no qualms about after-hours meetings or late-night planning sessions. But now you need to leave at 5 pm on the dot to make daycare pick-up. People don’t know what you don’t tell them, so make sure the team around you knows what to expect from your new schedule.
5. Consider flexibility.
Whether you’re returning to work gradually or jumping right back into the full-time career you had before, there’s no shame in admitting you need more flexibility than in pre-baby times. It might be possible to cut back on hours, work from home, or increase your hours gradually as you get into the swing of returning to work after maternity leave.
6. Know your breastfeeding rights.
If you’re still breastfeeding when you return to work, get familiar with the rules around pumping breaks, and know that you have the right to somewhere private to breastfeed or pump in your workplace. And if pumping just isn’t working for you, try not to feel guilty for making the switch to formula or combination feeding. Do whatever feels best for you and your baby.
7. Give yourself time.
Looking after a baby is a full-time job, so it can be hard to combine that with heading back to work and adulting in general. Add in all the emotions you’re probably feeling (guilt over leaving your baby, anxiety over meeting expectations in the workplace, excitement over going back to a job you love, and then more guilt about feeling the excitement…) and it’s normal to feel just a tad overwhelmed. If you’re not feeling great about your working mom life right away, don’t stress. It’s understandable to need a while to settle in and feel like you again.
8. Enjoy your baby.
While you might have been clear about getting back into the working frame of mind while you’re in the office, it’s important to flip that out-of-office switch too. Make sure there’s time for just you and your baby, whether that’s bathtime in the evenings or a special activity at the weekend. Reinforcing your bond and being present in the moment with your baby will mean you get the most out of your time together.
Do babies suffer when mothers return to work?
Absolutely not, but it’s important to choose who looks after your baby carefully. You need to feel confident and comfortable with your childcare provider. Separation anxiety can make daycare drop-off difficult, but most children thrive in the right childcare environment.
How long should you stay with your baby before going back to work?
This will depend on everyone’s specific family situation, but some things you may need to consider are:
- How much time can you have off from your workplace?**
- How long can you afford to stay home?
- When can your child enroll with your chosen childcare provider?
- What are your preferences around breastfeeding?
Not to mention being emotionally ready to leave your baby. As we said, this is a very personal choice.
How do I cope with going back to work after having a baby?
Postpartum depression is often associated with the period soon after the birth of your baby, but “going back to work after baby depression” is a real thing too. Many mamas might feel like they’re stretched too thin to enjoy anything anymore, and it’s important to acknowledge these feelings. If you think you have depression, don’t be afraid to reach out to a therapist or your healthcare provider. They are here to help!
However you feel about going back to work after maternity leave, you’re not alone! Speaking to other working mamas, like those here in the Peanut community, can help you find others in your same situation and come up with some real-life strategies to make it all work. Good luck mama!