Written by Morgan Eddy
In honor of Working Parents’ Day on September 16th, we want to help you navigate your return to the working world from maternity leave. Merging your pre-baby life with your post-baby life may seem daunting, but before you know it you’ll hit your groove and find the perfect balance!
During maternity leave with my youngest, Charlie (now 2), I knew we were all ready for me to go back to work when I found myself at Target twice in one day…before 12pm. While the Target employees I had come to know on a first-name basis were absolutely lovely, I needed to get back to my real co-workers. (Shout-out to Moms on Call for the predictable schedule that gave me the flexibility to go on Target runs!)
For those of you who are getting ready to return from maternity leave now, or will be soon, I wanted to share a few dos and don’ts that I picked up during my transitions.
Accept your new mom superpowers.
I’m not sure of the medical term for this, but did you know that when you have a baby you automatically get new superpowers? As parents, we become fantastically adept at resourcefulness and efficiency. No pre-work blowout too big, no logistical challenge too small. You WILL figure it out and have confidence in that.
Extend grace…to others AND yourself.
Remember how long it took to settle into life with a newborn? Same applies here. This is another major change. It’s going to be bumpy and feel overwhelming at first, but you will find your new normal. There will be an unexpected bath needed before 8am, you will forget the bottle bag and there will be a meeting that runs late. Remember that you are human, it is okay to ask for help and always take care of what matters most first — your baby and you.
Preparation is key.
- Get everything you can ready the night before! Wash, dry and repack all of your pump parts. Get bottles ready. Pick out your outfit. Anything that you can do to reduce the amount that has to be done during the morning time chaos will help!
- Another option is to wake up early. This is a personal preference and may not be for everyone! For my fellow morning people, there is something about having time to myself each morning when no one needs me that really helps me to start my day with a clear mind and on the right foot. Bonus points if you can avoid checking your phone during this sacred “me time”! Whatever time you do wake up, try to keep the time consistent each day. I learned about this and tons of other sanity-saving life tips from Dr. Darria Long-Gillespie’s book, Mom Hacks.
Find your routine.
By now you know that we’re big fans of routines that are designed to work with your individual life! Take a week or two to try different things and figure out what works best for your family each morning and stick with it. Things go a lot more smoothly when everyone knows what to expect!
- Prep the same things each night. This will not only make mornings easier, but you’re less likely to forget something when it’s part of a routine.
- Get into a morning routine with your family. This makes for smoother mornings and helps to ease the transition from family time to work/childcare time.
There’s no sugar-coating it, turning over care of your precious gift from above is hard. Here’s what you need to remember: Your child is loved beyond measure. Your child is safe. Your child can do this and so can you! Those new parent superpowers helped you to pick the absolute best childcare provider for your child. Leaving the house or doing daycare drop-off on that first day is not for the weak of heart, but you’ve got this. It is completely normal and not a bad thing for our kids to experience what we call separation awareness. Check out our blog on it here.
Myself and many friends have actually found childcare providers to be extremely helpful with things like bottle feeding, transitioning to solids and schedules! They are experts after all, and have encountered pretty much every situation and have learned what works and what doesn’t. I found myself frequently asking our daycare teachers for their tips and tricks!
Pumping at work?
- Block off your pumping times on your calendar to ensure you have protected time.
- If you will also be pumping at home, have a pump that stays at work and one that stays at home. No one wants to realize that their one and only pump is still at work, 30 minutes away, once you finally get your little one down for the night and have a few minutes to yourself. Been there, done that.
- A hands-free pumping bra is key so that you can work and pump at the same time. (Remember those superpowers I mentioned?!)
- This goes without saying, but ALWAYS make sure to attach the bottles to the pump before turning it on. I learned this very messy lesson early on.
- In case you forget the point above, or have an unfortunate accident with your liquid gold, keep an extra outfit at work. Dried breast milk does not give off quite the pleasant office scent you’re going for.
- Have a small cooler to transport your pumped milk home each night. Add a reminder to your calendar/phone to grab it before leaving work every day.
- You don’t have to wash your pump in between pump sessions at work. I was a big fan of giving the parts a quick wipe with Medela’s Quick Clean wipes and sticking them in my cooler bag in the fridge until my next pump session. Once I got home each night, I would fully clean and sanitize everything.
- Check out certified MOC Consultant and owner of Bumble Baby, Kate Arquilla’s, blog post about Back to Work Essentials.
Teach people how to treat you.
I pray that each of you are going back to a welcoming and supportive job environment that understands you may need new flexibility that you didn’t previously have. You are an asset to your company and countless studies prove that an employee’s productivity actually increases when they have children. (It’s those new mom superpowers!) Don’t be afraid to ask for accommodations that will help you best balance work and your family. More than ever, companies realize the critical connection between work/life balance and are motivated to retain top talent, like yourself. Starting an open dialogue with your company will help them do the same with you, ultimately leading to innovation and culture improvements.
Side note: Research has also determined that SLEEP is absolutely critical to your performance, both at home and work. If you and baby aren’t enjoying a full night’s sleep yet, dig into Moms on Call’s online courses and books ASAP!
You are THERE and you are THEIRS.
Jennifer Walker, Moms on Call Co-Founder, recently shared this with a group of working moms and it really resonated with me. When that mom guilt starts to creep in, remember that you are THERE. Even when you are not physically with your child, by virtue of being their mother, you are there. Providing for them is being there for them, as is giving them the opportunity to learn from others when you are apart from them. It makes your time together in the mornings, nights and on weekends that much sweeter.
And out of all the moms in the world, God picked YOU to be THEIRS. That bond is irreplaceable and unbreakable.
Now get yourself a new outfit (yoga pants count if home is now work too!) and get excited for this milestone. You’ve got this, momma!