5 Tips That Will Make Returning Back to Work Easier After Maternity Leave
Going back to work after having a baby has its own set of challenges that a new mom, or dad, face once you enter parenthood. The thought of waking up before the sun rises and heading off to work, after being up most of the night with a crying baby, seems unthinkable. Plus attempting to be the same employee you were before you left is no easy task. Although you're going to experience a few hiccups along the way, hopefully these 5 tips will make heading back to work a little less stressful on you and your little one.
1. Ease Into It
Before you’re out on maternity leave, discuss your return date with HR and your manager. If at all possible, try to arrange it so you return to work mid-week instead of on a Monday. This new transition is going to be a shock for both you and your new baby, so easing into this new phase might help make it less jarring. This will help your childcare provider get adjusted as well. Returning to work on a short week will allow you to have the weekend to regroup and fix any potential issues with childcare, scheduling, etc. Between the emotional effects, the possible pumping situation, and the literal stress of it all, you can't belittle how grand of a transition it will be.
2. Set Realistic Expectations
Try to be patient with yourself as you get back in the swing of things at work. It’s going to take a while before you feel like you know what you’re doing again. If possible, don’t schedule big presentations or volunteer for a big project right off the bat if you can help it. Blocking time on your calendar to go through emails and catch up on projects while you were on leave will help you get a feel for things. Your coworkers aren’t going to expect you to know everything on day one, so cut yourself some slack and know that you’ll get up to speed eventually. A study done by Procter & Gamble found that it can take an average of 3.8 months to get back into your comfort zone once you’re back at the office. With time, and a little sleep, you’ll be back to your old self in no time.
3. Meet With Your Manager
Make time to meet with your manager upon your return from leave. It’s a good idea to regroup so they can get you up to speed on anything you missed. You’ll want to know if there have been any changes in leadership, processes, accounts or your department. This is also a good time to discuss and set up your goals. Meeting with your manager will help you get back in the groove of work life.
4. Prepare the Night Before
If it was hard to get to work on time pre-baby, it’s about to get a lot worse. Between nursing, pumping, packing a diaper bag, getting bottles ready, getting yourself ready, packing a lunch, daycare drop off and changing a last minute diaper, you’ll really appreciate any spare second you can find in the morning. If you’re pumping, get a spare set of parts to keep at the office, that way you have one less thing you have to try and remember. Pack all of the bags and pick your outfit out before you head to bed. If you want to take it a step further, make a list of things to pack. Any time that you can save in the morning means more sleep for you. Planning and preparing the night before is essential to starting your day off on the right track.
5. Do A Test Run
Before your maternity leave is over, pick a day to test out your new schedule. This will allow you to run through your new routine and work out the kinks. You might find that you need less time to feed your baby or more time to get to daycare with morning rush-hour traffic. Doing a test run will help eliminate some stress on that first day back in the office.
Any transition can be tough, but hopefully these tips will help make it a little bit easier. My new baby and my work have a couple of things in common; they are always changing and growing, so going with the flow is helpful. Luckily my team at Texas Creative, and support system at home, have been great as I enter this next stage in my life. Do you have any tips for a new parent as they go back to work? If so, leave them in the comments below!