10 Tips for Your First Day Back After Maternity Leave

Originally posted on A Child Grows in Brooklyn

By Jennifer Mayer

Over the past 6-12 weeks (maybe more, maybe less), you’ve come to know this new baby in your life. You’ve begun the recovery from pregnancy and birth, and started to get in a bit of a schedule flow- but let’s be honest, we know what life with a baby looks like! And now it’s time to return to the world that was oh-so-familiar before you had a baby.

It may feel overwhelming, the thought of going back. You may be wondering, how am I going to do it all? Or perhaps you are excited about daily adult conversations again. No matter where you’re at, we’ve got some tips to help as you prepare to go back.

  1. Pack your bag: make a list of essentials you’ll need for your day at work. Examples are snacks, water bottle, picture of your little one, pump, pump parts, cleaning supplies, extra shirt (just in case). Also if you’re baby is going to day care or a nanny share, be sure to get their bag packed too.

  2. Talk to HR before you go back: if you're planning on pumping at with. Get a sense of the accommodations before day 1.

  3. Do a trial run the week before: practice leaving your baby with a care giver and leaving the house. IF you haven’t done this yet- the first time you leave the house, leaving the care of your baby in the hands of someone other than your spouse will feel equal parts terrifying and freeing. You may just ask yourself, why didn’t I do this sooner?

  4. Plan some special family time for the first weekend after going back: Not only will you be craving some down time with your baby after your first week away, it’ll also give you something to look forward to at the end of the week

  5. Have your back-up childcare set, just in case: I know what you’re thinking, “but I just got my daycare, or nanny all set up! My job isn’t done?” Yep- you’re going to need back-up childcare for days the daycare is closed, or if your nanny gets sick. Try partnering with a local family who has a nanny, or reaching out to friends or family.

  6. If possible start on a Wednesday: so it's a shorter week to start back at work. This can help you ease into your routine and getting used to being away from your baby.

  7. If pumping, schedule in your pump sessions into your calendar/schedule: One thing many moms have difficulty with is scheduling their pumps into their day. It can be hard to prioritize pump session with everything else going on at work- but one good strategy is to schedule it into your calendar and make it as non-negotiable as possible.

  8. Hand off some household duties to your partner that you’ve naturally been taking care of on mat leave: Let’s face it- over the past few weeks and months, you’ve had the stay-at-home mom life. And it’s very natural for you to pick up a lot of chores and duties around the house since you’ve been home during the day. The time to delegate duties between both parents is NOW.

  9. Attend a community gathering of other working parents, or join a facebook group online: Such as  Baby Caravan’s Back-to-Work Classes in Manhattan and Brooklyn, or Facebook groups like Working Moms Who Make Breastfeeding Work or Breadwinning Mamas

  10. Remember you're doing a great job: It'll all get easier as you adjust to your new schedule. Even when it doesn’t feel like it, you’re doing a great job. There’s a secret in parenthood, and it’s that we’re all just doing the best we can and no one knows what they’re doing!

Jen Mayer