Do you want the good news or the bad news first?
Let’s start with the non-BS, honest tips truth for any momma or soon-to-be momma who has an end-date to their maternity leave. I had three babies in four years, and I returned to work from maternity leave when each of my babies turned 12 weeks old. So yeah, I am an experienced mom when it comes to returning to work.
I’d love to tell you:
“This will be super easy, and you won’t even miss your baby”
But lying to you will not make this easier. Besides, you know it will not be easy. You wouldn’t be reading this post if you didn’t have reservations.
For me, there was no REAL option to NOT work. My husband could have gotten a second job, or we could have sold our house and moved in with my parents. But with our loans and lifestyle, it was not for us. Additionally, I went to school for 6 years and was deep in a fulfilling job that I loved. I wasn’t ready to give that up yet.
Prior to having my son, I thought my list of logical bullet points describing why I had to go back to work would be enough to ease my back-to-work anxiety. However, when the time came to punch that time clock I realized I was oh-so-wrong. I started to develop this overwhelming instinctual voice in my head saying “never leave this baby“.
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I want to justify your anxiety. You are not the only mother who has anxiety when you go back to work. It will feel unnatural. The baby you have bonded with around the clock will no longer be by your side when you return to work. There is no doubt about it, it feels like a piece of you is missing when you are apart.
Actually, it would be concerning if you didn’t feel that way. I just wanted to make sure you heard that from someone.
Trust me, it gets easier
Be prepared for a rough first week. I will not sugar-coat this. You will tear up when someone asks “how is the new baby!?” and you will spend a lot of time watching the clock for the moment you get to run home. You will not be very productive that week. The transition of cuddling a sweet baby to staring at a computer/customers is likely the biggest one you will ever have to make.
Then, week two rolls in. It still hurts to think of being away from your baby, but no tears come. Like a new baby deer, you are standing on wobbly legs trying to figure out how to make this new life work.
More baby steps come in week three. You start to engage a little more at work. You obviously think of your baby all day- that will never change-, but everything starts to feel a little more natural. When you get home at the end of your shift, you will soak in those cuddles and smiles. That is what will get you through the next few weeks.
You will start to notice that it gets naturally easier. Try these things to feel connected during the day:
- Bring pictures of your baby to work.
- Even if you know that your co-workers deep down do not care about your babies first ‘fart’ story, tell them anyway!
- Call and check up on baby through the day. Sometimes, I could call my sitter or daycare five times in one shift just to hear how things were going. Don’t be afraid to annoy anyone with the constant calls.
You truly learn to appreciate every single moment you spend with your baby. You don’t mind getting up in the middle of the night to see that sweet face. You feel lucky to be able to miss out of work happy hours to stay home and cuddle your bundle.
I will never forget the challenges I experienced when I went back to work; however, good things came from it (told you there was good news!). Here are my daily reminders that I made the right decision.
- They love daycare and their sitters. Prior to having children, I had reservations about using a daycare. Those anxieties were quickly eliminated when I saw my kids interacting with their daycare friends and teachers. They build deep relationships with peers and learn how to take directions from adults other than their parents. Nowadays, my two year old now shouts “bring me back to school!” when I pick him up from school.
- They are social and thriving. All three of my kids are very outgoing. They love to make friends and be around new people. I attribute this to daycare and being with their sitters. Early on, they learned how to interact with kids their age. Also, they are used to being outside of their home and adjust to any situation presented to them.
- Constant learning early and activities. I would love to take credit for my two year old counting to 10 or all of the creative art work on my refrigerator, but I cannot. They get so much extra stimulation at school that they admittedly don’t always get at home.
- We can’t wait to see each other each day. Our nights are packed with some serious quality time. We spent the day apart and look forward to seeing each other. I make the most out of all of the times we are together.
There is no doubt that going back to work after having a baby is one of the biggest challenges you may face in your life. Just remember, you are not the first mom who has had to do this. It helps to talk to other moms who have gone through this before. It will get easier, and believe it or not you will be the one on the other side of the table telling another mom “everything will be ok” in no time!
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