Back to Work After Parental Leave
Returning to work after time off with your baby is a big step for everyone in the family. By now you may comfortably “in the zone” with infant care at home and loving those first smiles and sweet moments with baby. You’re hopefully getting a few more precious hours of sleep at night, too.
Diving back into your work routine may feel strange and unfamiliar — like landing on a different planet! It may seem overwhelming at first, but you’ll find ways to improvise and manage multiple demands at work and home. Also keep in mind that you don’t have to do this on your own. Other working parents are in the same boat, and they can be a great support when you need advice or encouragement.
Here are some tips to help smooth the back-to-work transition:
- Map out your daily routine. Think through timing and the tasks that need to happen before you get out the door and off to work. Who needs to be where, and when? If possible, “divide and conquer” these tasks with your partner. Build in extra time for the unexpected — diaper blowouts, spills and last-minute wardrobe changes will inevitably happen!
- Meet with your babysitter or daycare provider. Get familiar with the place (if it’s outside your home) so you know where to go and where to store your baby’s bottles, diapers, changes of clothing, etc.
- Check in with your employer. Set your start date (if possible, choose a mid-week start date so your first week is shorter). Catch up on recent changes in the workplace so you know what to expect when you come back.
- Make a game plan if you intend to continue breastfeeding. Find out if there’s a private room with an electrical outlet for breast pumping in your workplace. Talk to your employer about making any adjustments to your schedule to allow for breaks.
- Don’t try to do it all. Let’s face it, there’s not enough time to stay on top of everything at work and home (unless you have superpowers!). You may decide to cut back on commitments and identify things that must get done and other tasks that can wait.
- Make it a team effort. Troubleshoot challenges with your partner and be honest with friends and loved ones if they ask how you’re doing. Your colleagues and friends may have great insight and advice to help you get through this stressful time.
- Set aside special time with your baby. Show your baby how excited you are when you get home from work. Start a fun playtime ritual with baby that you both will look forward to (listening to music, playing with puppets or splashing in the bath).
- Take care of you. It’s natural to channel all of your energy to everyone else and put your own needs last. But a little pampering can go a long way! Find time to relax and unwind, whether that means meeting a friend at a coffee shop, going to a yoga class, getting a haircut or shopping for new clothes that flatter your post-baby body.
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