Tips for Transitioning Back to Work After Maternity Leave
byKathryn WalshMay 01, 2014
It's lucky that many babies start to sleep through the night at three months, around the time maternity leave ends for many moms. Working by day and parenting by night requires all the energy you can muster. Even if you're well-rested, you might be surprised by the emotional toll of returning to work. Prepare both your workplace and your home environment to make this as easy a transition as possible.
Talk Details Before the First Day
You're just as capable a worker as ever, but your job needs are likely different now that you've had a baby. Keep your first day back low-key by having a sit-down chat with your boss a week or two before you're ready to return. Arrange more frequent breaks if you'll be pumping at work and talk about where you can privately pump. You might also discuss adjusting or reducing your schedule or telecommuting, the Mayo Clinic website suggests. And to remind your boss that you're a valuable employee, talk about upcoming projects and your work goals.
Brief Your Team
Create a support team for yourself, suggests Ariane de Bonvoisin of First30Days.com to "Redbook." Before your first day, talk to this team — which should include your partner, the baby's caregiver, family and other mom friends — about what you need from them. For instance, your partner may need to be in charge of dinner each night, and you may ask your caregiver to send you a certain number of baby pictures or updates each day. Work out a signal you can give to a close work friend when you're having a tough day and need an encouraging email.
Now that you're back to scheduling in staff meetings, pencil in baby time, too. Adjust your wake-up time to allow yourself 10 minutes of snuggling after you feed your baby. Work with your child's caregiver to adjust his schedule, too, suggests Dr. William Sears for the "Parenting" website, so he's well-rested and ready for you to feed him when you arrive home. She may even be willing to bring him to meet you for lunch once a week. During this adjustment period, outsource errands and laundry to a friend or your partner so you can devote as many non-working hours to your baby as possible.
Dress the Part
Returning to the office might feel nerve-wracking after several months away. Ditch the maternity jeans you're still wearing and put together some flattering outfits that maximize your assets and make you feel confident. "Lucky" magazine's website suggests wearing stretchy black dresses and button-down shirts with stretch. Pair a tailored blazer and an A-line skirt with either option for an outfit that's comfortable, professional and lends itself to breastfeeding. Using bright jewelry, a sleek ponytail and some under-eye concealer is an easy way to look pulled together in minutes.