It’s awfully hard taking a leave from work to go and have a baby. It’s even harder leaving that baby behind to go back to work—even if you love your job! So whether you’re going back for monetary necessity, or because you have to keep your place in your career, or because you love what you do, here are a few tips to help ease your transition.
1. Start childcare plans early.
If you want in on a specific day care center, get on their waiting list ASAP—sometimes even before the baby is born. Either way, set up who will be caring for your child in advance of needing it. Visit the facility or meet the person in advance. Maybe even do a dry run to make sure things don’t all crash and burn the minute Mommy/Daddy leaves. Having a good, safe option that you and your family feel good about will help ease your jitters.
2. Stock up on supplies.
You’re going to need a bunch of supplies for whomever is taking care of your kid. Buy things like breast milk bags and nursing pads and diapers in bulk. Make a checklist of all the things your baby needs when going out of the house and make sure to pass it along to your child minder.
3. Start out slowly.
Don’t go right back into full time. See if you can do part-time the first week or two, just until you iron out all the kinks and get your family settled in the new routine.
4. Stay in touch.
It’s okay to ask for regular updates throughout the day—a quick text or photo will often do to help you keep from worrying and focus on your work. If you are the type to call in every day, go for it!
5. Talk to a lactation expert.
If you’re a mom who’s going to keep nursing, talk to a lactation consultant and start figuring out your pumping schedule. Make sure you’re comfortable with your system before you dive into it. Get your baby used to drinking your milk from a bottle—to make sure she takes it—especially from someone else. And make sure to have the pumping conversation with your boss so she’s best prepared to support you. Your HR department should make it very easy on you and find you somewhere private and dedicated for when you need to pump.
6. Plan everything the night before.
After bedtime is your best friend. Pretend like you’re back in school again: lay out your clothes, pack your lunch, prep breakfast, pack the diaper bag, get organized, etc. This time will be less harried than the morning and will also mean you get more quality time before heading off to work each day when you aren’t running mad with stress.
7. Don’t take work home.
Your boss should understand that you have a brand new family at home. Leave your job when you come home and don’t pick it up again until you arrive the next morning. Life is too short to be missing your already limited family time being glued to projects or emails.
8. Don’t feel guilty.
Work is important to sustain your family. Even if you don’t have to work for the money—maybe your partner makes more than enough to go around—if you’re going back to work because you love your job… that’s important. Either way, you’re setting a wonderful example for your kids.
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