Back From Maternity Leave – A Survival Guide
After a few beautiful months getting to know my new baby, it was time to make the transition into a Proud Working Mom. I had to go back to work after maternity leave. This transition was more difficult than I could've ever imagined. How could I leave my baby in the hands of someone who, well, someone who wasn't me? I had just met this precious little baby and at first sight, I felt closer to him than any other person in my entire life. How could I now leave this person even for just a few hours every day? It seemed impossible. With only a week left in my maternity leave, my emotions were all over the place. I was a mess. Yes, there were lots of tears. Despite the roller coaster of emotions, I somehow made it out alive and back to work. I want to make it easier for the next working mother to cross this bridge, so here are a few suggestions:
– Give some thought to this back to work transition before you have the baby. Before the baby comes, you have the time to think about this stuff. After the baby comes, you will be lucky if you can shower. Are you going to use a daycare facility or hire a nanny? Talk with relatives about child care and ask neighbors or friends for referrals in the area. Talk to your partner about these big issues when you have the time to talk about it. After the baby comes, you will be a wreck mentally, physically and emotionally and it will not be the optimal time to make such a major decision. Once you have this decision made, it will be one less thing you have to worry about.
– When going back to work after maternity leave, see if you can arrange a half day for the first few days back for either you or your partner. Working for half of a day will give everyone a chance to get used to the routine. Just kidding. The baby has no idea what is going on…it is a baby. This is for you. You will feel less guilty if you only have to leave your little one for a few hours. If that is not possible, consider taking your lunch break to run over and check on the baby. It will make you feel better and allow you to focus on work.
– Talk to other parents. You are not the first person in the universe to have a child and go back to work. Call on friends, neighbors, and co-workers to give you advice on how they handled this difficult transition.
-Focus on the positives. You will get to have a few minutes to yourself. The car ride to and from daycare will allow you to collect your thoughts and have a mental break. During your lunch break, you may even get to eat your lunch sitting down!
-Take tissues. Lots of tissues. You are going to cry. Whether you wait to cry until you get back into the car or you start bawling in front of the entire daycare (like I did), there will be tears and that is o.k.
Just breathe. Keep in mind that you are still the mother of that beautiful baby. Nothing can change that. There is a special connection between you and your baby that was formed the moment you found out you were pregnant. Going back to work doesn't change that. In fact, if you are lucky, you will find a daycare or nanny that works with you and enhances your experience. I am happy to say that my son's day care facility ended up being my salvation. I learned so much from the experienced ladies in the “Nest” (the name of his baby room) and looking back on it, I wouldn't change a thing.
Kelly M. is a fellow Proud Working Mom. Her article was originally posted on ProudWorkingMom.com on October 2, 2013.
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