Just as you’re getting used to being at home with your baby, you realise that your maternity leave is fading fast. The thought of getting ready for work after sleepless nights seems impossible. And then there’s the guilt: how can you spend so much time away from your baby?
Take a deep breath. The good news is that you’re not alone. More than half of all new moms go back to work when their maternity leave ends – many with conflicted emotions. Here are some tips to help make the transition less painful.
1. Don’t stress about your baby missing you
Worried that your baby will miss you while you’re at work? Babies haven’t developed a sense of time yet, so they have no clue if you’ve been away for nine hours. And guess what? They are not forming memories either so the only one who really notices your absence is… you.
2. Hire a caregiver
Day care? Grandparents? Nanny? Consider what works best for your family and your budget. If you’re opting for childcare, we have tips for selecting a great childcare provider and how to settle them into their new environment.
3. Let dad do more than diapers
It’s not just getting food on the table that a new mom needs help with, right? “A highly involved dad is something you absolutely need to have but it also takes stepping back and letting dad play a much larger-than-traditional role in childcare,” says Michelle Lim-Chua, who’s a mom of two. Getting your husband more involved could relieve some of your stress and burden.
Getting out of the house pre-baby was much easier. Take time to go through your old routines (walking in heels, applying makeup) and practice new skills (getting showered and ready with a baby in tow). A trial run helps you practice being apart and enables you to run errands (haircut and shopping for new work clothes) before going back to work.
5. Don’t stress about pumping at work
The easiest and most efficient way to feed your baby breast milk is usually at the breast, but if you’re returning to work soon, here are tips for pumping and storing your milk at work.
6. Reach out
Mothering can be lonely, but the more you connect with others the more comfortable you’ll feel. Find other moms in your office or talk to friends with kids to chat about your fears and concerns. Remember, you’re not alone in this.
7. Be patient with yourself
Go easy on yourself – at home or at work. There’s bound to be bumps along the way (colicky baby or a new project that will require long hours at the office); you will find a way through it. Adjusting to this new life and routine will take time and you can’t expect it to be a walk in the park. Call your spouse or a friend if you need to hear a supportive voice.