Returning to Work after Maternity Leave
The amount of maternity leave new moms take differs from company to company and state to state, but one thing is for sure: it’s difficult when it ends. I was heartbroken to have to leave my baby at home while I worked all day. While my leave was less than restful, it was difficult to give up those endless days with my newborn and to think about being somewhere else.
Over time, the transition back to work got easier and I even began to almost enjoy the ‘grown up’ time. Here are a few things I learned that can help you to make returning to work easier – on you and your family.
- Get cooking. There are a number of things you can do to plan ahead for your return. Start stocking the freezer as soon as you can. When you prepare dinner for your family, consider making double or triple batches, or preparing several meals at once that freeze well, such as stews and soups, casseroles, and pot pies. Once you return to work, you won’t want to spend a minute longer than you have to in the kitchen making dinner.
- Set up day care. If you haven’t already, be sure to set up the day care you’ll be using for your child. Ask friends and neighbors for referrals and call around. Be sure to pop in on the day care as well – an unannounced visit will give you more of a true picture of the everyday happenings at the facility. There are also online sites that can help you find a sitter like SitterCity.
- Make a plan for feedings. If you are breast feeding, think about whether you want to continue upon returning to work. Do you plan to nurse in the evenings only, and give baby a bottle during the day? Or will you pump breast milk a few times during the day and use that to feed baby when you’re not around? If you decide to pump, be sure to try it out while you’re still on maternity leave to make sure you are familiar and comfortable with the process. Also talk to your employer about locating a private, comfortable place to pump.
- Try it on. Try on your work clothes a week or two before you are scheduled to return to work. Don’t be surprised if your pre-pregnancy clothes don’t fit – many women still wear some of their maternity clothes a few months after giving birth. Try on your clothes early enough so that you have time to buy a few new pieces if you need to.
- Try it out. If you plan to return to work full time after your maternity leave, consider starting small: a week or two before you return, try spending a little time out of the house and away from baby. Gradually transitioning into longer periods away might help ease both you and your baby into the new routine.
Leaving baby and returning to work is no easy decision. However, with a little advanced planning, you can make the transition a little easier for everyone.