Just when it seems as if you’ve got your routine down and you have grown accustomed to life at home with your baby, along comes yet another change: maternity leave is ending. If you’re like most moms, you may have dreaded this day and worried about how you will transition not only yourself, but also your family and your baby into this new chapter of life. Although being a working mom is not easy, with a well thought out plan and a few tips, you and your baby can ease back into the workday routine.
Make A Return-To-Work Schedule
A well-planned schedule can really help minimize stress after maternity leave. Making a schedule can help you stay on time and see to all of the tasks you have to complete for both family and work. Devise a schedule and be sure to account for:
- Travel time
- Childcare plans
- What to do if your child is ill
Discuss options with your employer such as:
- Working part-time
- Flexible Hours
- Working From Home
- Job Sharing
Start Childcare A Week Early
A surefire way to test the efficiency of your new schedule is to do a practice run the week before. Arrange for your childcare to begin a week early. This will help you and your baby adjust to the new routine and get used to being away from one another. Work out any kinks during this time and adjust the schedule where necessary.
Set Aside Time For Yourself
There is no doubt that being a working mother is a challenging experience. Be sure to set aside time for yourself, as you will surely need it. Simply taking a few minutes at the end of the day to focus on at least one positive thing will give you that sense of accomplishment and the motivation to do it all again tomorrow. Additionally, take some time during the week to do something that’s just for you, try activities such as:
- Taking a walk
- Talking with a friend
- Setting a date night with your spouse
- Keep your work life separate from your home life whenever possible
- Use up all of your vacation days
Maintain a positive outlook on the situation. Remind yourself that you are working to better your family. Don’t get consumed with guilt; being a working mom doesn’t make you a bad parent. Be optimistic; look forward to the new challenges and interaction you’ll have with your coworkers. Positivity can help prevent the onset of depression.
Focus On Finding Childcare
Finding the right childcare can be difficult. It’s normal to feel apprehensive about leaving your child in someone else’s care. Consider these factors when choosing a childcare provider for your child:
- Be sure the provider(s) has experience caring for children.
- Be sure the provider interacts with your child in a positive way, displaying patience, caring and sensitivity.
- Be sure the space is clean and safe and child-centered.
- Be sure any outdoor play equipment is safe for young children.
- Observe the other children, be sure they seem content and interested in the activities.
- Note the childcare provider’s disciplinary methods and be sure you are comfortable with the procedure.
Continue Breastfeeding If You Wish
If you are currently breastfeeding your baby, going back to work does not mean the end of breastfeeding. With a little organization and planning, you will be able to continue to breastfeed your child. Since breastfeeding boosts a child’s immune system, you may find yourself taking off less time to tend to a sick baby. If you choose to continue breastfeeding, consider these possibilities:
- If possible, choose a childcare facility near your work and go to the facility to breastfeed.
- Inform your employer that you will need breaks during the day to pump.
- Be sure that there is a clean, private room available to do your pumping.
- Store breast milk for your baby to use the following day.
- Adjust your baby’s schedule so that you are breastfeeding before and after work, pumping two or three times during the workday.
Simplify Your Home Life
Once you return to work you will probably feel like you’re running a marathon. Try to simplify daily activities so that you save on time and don’t suffer a nervous breakdown. Consider these tips to make the most of your time:
- Rank tasks according to what is most important and what can wait.
- Share daily errands, such as pick up and drop off with your spouse.
- Plan a weeks worth of meals and freeze food for later use.
- Shop in bulk whenever possible to cut down on time spent shopping.
- Use a crockpot or slow cooker to cook meals while you’re at work.
- Hire a landscaper to maintain the lawn and out door chores.
- Make lunches and lay out clothes the night before.
- Wake up a few minutes before your kids, take a shower and enjoy the quiet.
Reach Out To Other Working Moms
Networking with other working moms is a great way to get ideas and share stories. Check the Internet for working mom sites or chat groups. Maintaining a circle of friends with similar challenges is beneficial to your mental health and outlook on your situation.
Get Enough Rest
Being exhausted is often a common complaint of working moms. Be sure to get plenty of rest; the less tired you are, the better equipped you are to tackle the daily routine. Getting a good night’s rest should always take precedence over doing laundry or dishes; those things can be put off till the next day. Here are some healthful tips for getting adequate rest time:
- Limiting your caffeine intake.
- Napping when your baby naps, especially on weekends.
- Trying to get at least seven hours of sleep each night.
- Taking turns with your spouse getting up with a child who wakes during the night.
Eat Healthy Foods
Try to maintain a healthy diet. Eating healthy will ensure that you have the energy needed to take on the day’s events. Taking care of yourself means you will be better able to take care of everyone else.
Be Physically Active
Maintaining an active life will boost your energy level and help you to manage daily stressors. Consider the following tips:
- Take breaks at work to take a brisk walk
- Opt for the stairs rather than the elevator
- Engage the whole family in physical activities
Use relaxation techniques to relieve stress and tension. Taking time to practice deep breathing or meditation will help to wash away the stressors of the day.
If you are planning to go back to work following maternity leave and are stressed, remember that it is possible to juggle it all. Start planning right away and weigh your options. With some planning and a few tricks, you will be able to do it all.