One of the most stressful things to deal with when you finally get a hold of this mama-hood thing, is the transition of returning to work after baby. The range of emotions can be quite harrowing – you are excited to head back and focus on your career, you are dealing with the guilt that comes with leaving your child with someone else, you are figuring out how to manage your evening schedule and not to mention the logistics of pumping at work. After all, you did just have a major life change.
I’m not going to lie – heading back to work had me worried sick. I made sure to consider every piece of advice that was thrown at me and still had minor setbacks. But, after being at work for a month, I am finally ready to share with you KEY tips to help you survive your first week back after baby.
Here Are 7 Tips to Survive Your First Week Back After Baby
Be Content with Your Decision
The very first thing many new moms struggle with when heading back to work is heavy mom guilt. I felt like leaving my son at a daycare was a disservice to him and in turn, I was being a bad mother. With my first son I was able to stay at home with him for three years while working from home and never had to go back after maternity leave. I felt that I should have been able to provide this same amount of at-home experience and quality time with my second as well. But after a lot of reflection and focusing on my why, I finally felt content with my decision. I had to remind myself that I was going back to work to help with finances – our family thrives on dual income. Additionally I wanted to advance my career and, truthfully, I’ve always enjoyed a sense of autonomy. Returning to work wasn’t a selfish decision – it’s was the best change for my family and I needed to stop feeling like I was falling short of expectations. It can be so freeing when you get rid of the doubt and guilt that comes with returning to work after baby.
Meet with Your Employer
Make sure you meet with your supervisor or boss before starting your first day and iron out any details that might concern you. Have there been any company or project changes you need to be aware of? Does your employer need to consider accommodations if you plan to pump at work? Maybe you aren’t quite ready to jump in with both feet and want to see if there are options for a flexible work schedule. Whatever the case may be, it’s always best to make sure you know what is expected of you and how your employer can help during the transition as much as possible; no one likes last minute surprises.
Set Your Start Date (Preferably Mid-week)
When returning to work, consider the benefits of starting your first day back in the middle of the week. As a nursing mother, I had never really been away from my child longer than a few hours, so the thought of being away from him 8 hours a day for 5 days in a row was daunting. But, if you were to start on a Wednesday, returning to your 9-5 will be for just a few days before the weekend begins and your little one is slowly transitioning to daycare as well.
Prepare for Pumping
If you plan to pump of course! Overpack too – I cannot stress this enough. You will need all the typical supplies and more. Plan for back up manual pumps (that you can leave in the car), extra milk storage bags, batteries, nursing pads, pump cleaning wipes and a cooler bag. Seriously, you do not want to be stuck in a rut needing to pump with a lack of supplies – and it will happen.
Some of my favorite pumping supplies are:
Freemie, Hands Free Breast Milk Pump Collection
Kiinde Breast Milk Storage Gift Set
Medela, Quick Clean Breast Pump and Accessory Wipes
Lansinoh Portable Manual Breast Pump
Insulated Baby Bottle Tote Bag
Heading back to work after baby, although its a lifestyle change, can be very exciting! Take the time to pamper and reward yourself by getting a fresh new haircut or manicure/pedicure. Odds are, you aren’t quite fitting in your pre-baby clothes and maternity no longer suits you. Treat yourself to some new work clothes and head back with confidence!
Plan Your Meals
If you saw my last post, you know I am all about meal planning. When your evening are cut short and cooking dinner seems overwhelming, meal planning or freezer meals can be a lifesaver! See my most recent post on make-ahead freezer meals that can help alleviate your first week back.
Do a Practice Run
Try out your new routine a week before you’re due back at the office. This is the best way to work out any kinks that you might run into before actually running into them. Make sure you have a back up plan if anything goes awry. Consider sending your child to childcare a week in advance to get them adjusted to their new schedule as well.
The logistics of returning to work might seem like a lot leading up to your first day back, but it will be only a matter of time until you and your family will be settled into this new lifestyle.
If you found these tips helpful, you might enjoy this post on creating family traditions.