Many a new mom nearing the end of maternity leave will admit to feeling anxious about going back to work. As conflicted as you may feel about leaving your baby to rejoin the gainfully employed, remember that your child too will benefit from this next stage of life with its myriad of new social and learning environments.
Having a good support team lined up before you start working is key to curbing back to work anxiety. Finding a childcare provider you can trust is essential, so start the process early and take your child with you when interviewing potential prospects to see how they connect with your baby. Once you’ve found a good fit, consider starting your childcare a few weeks before commencing your job, so you can ease your baby’s transition to his/her new environment. If that isn’t possible, frequenting a local drop-in centre can help get your baby acclimatized to new environments. Information on free drop-in services, like the Ontario Early Years Centres, is available through provincial government websites, or through community organizations.
Establishing a good communication system with your childcare provider right off the bat will also help you feel connected throughout your workday. A mid-day telephone call or daily log you can refer to at pick-up is a good way to keep on top of what your baby is doing when you’re not with her. A few surprise visits during those early weeks can be another way to ease your mind about your baby’s wellbeing when she’s not in your care.
Ensure your job still ‘fits’
In some cases, the job you left during your maternity leave may not fit your new lifestyle or personal goals anymore. Consider talking to your manager about flexible work hours or seek new opportunities in your workplace that could provide more flexibility to suit your needs. If feasible, consider ways to reduce travel time by telecommuting or finding employment closer to home. This may also be a good time to explore that home business idea you’ve had brewing for a while.
Build a support team at home
Sufficient support at home is just as important as it is outside the house. Ensure your partner is on board about what his or her role will be once you’re back in the workplace. Divvy up the responsibilities so you avoid taking on too much yourself. If you have older children, get them involved in simple household chores, such as clearing the table and emptying the garbage. If feasible, consider hiring out some tasks, such as house cleaning or gardening, to save you time.
Make a daily plan
Start planning a daily routine in advance that will include getting yourself and baby ready for the day, as well as the drop off and pick up. Prepare a backup plan to handle upcoming business trips, family sickness or children who are too ill to go to daycare. Working mom veterans recommend packing lunches/diaper bags and getting you and your baby’s outfits ready the night before to avoid a harried morning. During the week, plan on simple dinners that are easy to prepare—or make several meals at once on your days off that you can freeze for later use in the week.
Don’t forget to take care of you
As you straddle home, work and time with your baby, don’t forget to nurture yourself. Pack yourself a healthy lunch and remember to stretch and keep physically active, be it by exercising off hours or using breaks in the workday to walk, jog or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Try and carve out a little time each day to do something you enjoy, like connecting with a friend or scoping out your favorite websites. And for those days when you’re feeling under the weather, don’t feel guilty about taking the time to recuperate.
Like all transitions, going back to work post-baby will take some adjusting to. Occasional bumps along the way are all part of the process.