Returning to work after maternity leave never is easy. Your little one is still so small and needs so much of your attention, but now you need to focus on you career or livelihood too. Splitting your attention in two like this can be really hard on a new mom.
I remember my first day back. I walked around in a daze. Even though I was lucky to be able to work from home, having to wake up early in the morning to start my job and get some work done before my daughter woke up meant losing two to three hours of much-needed sleep. In all honesty, I don’t really think there is any “easy” way to get back to a work schedule when you’re caring for a small baby. Balancing work and home life can be very challenging, but here are a few steps I took that helped with the process.
1) Start waking up closer to the time you need to get up when you start work. The sooner you get on a schedule, the smoother the transition will be. Setting up a routine will help you navigate this time of change.
2) Plan simple, easy meals for the days you’ll be working. Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and New Seasons Markets are full of healthy meal options. Shop for easy, grab and go meals. Pack lunches ahead of time. This will be one less thing to worry about. Plus if you are nursing, you’ll need to eat to keep your milk supply.
3) Test your breast pump and start building your milk storage supply. For more information about pumping, visit KellyMom.com.
4) It’s okay to say no to extra activities when you start work, but make sure you maintain some social outlet. You will need it for your sanity. Working and raising children can really take a lot of energy from you, so having some adult girlfriend time is essential.
5) Get a support system or help those first few weeks or months. Just like when you first came home from the hospital, you will need help adjusting to the new schedule. If you are lucky to have family living close by, set up a schedule with them. Having someone with you for a couple of hours when you get home from work so you can cook dinner or manage chores makes a huge difference. And if they offer to take out your garbage or vacuum your floor, let them.
6) Buy tissues in bulk. And chocolate. And while you’re at it, it might not hurt to pick up a case of wine. Oh, and don’t forget caffeine. You’ll need lots of it.
Remember, you can do this, mama. You can do this.