Hi! You’re probably here because you’ve had a baby and are either heading back to work or are thinking about it.
You’ve made it through pregnancy. You brought a new life into the world. You’ve dedicated your, vastly increased, waking hours to keeping that life alive. The next daunting task/decision is at your door and it feels overwhelming. That’s ok. Just like the massive transitions before, you’ll make it through this one.
That said, being a working parent is tough. There’s a plethora of reasons people do it – necessity, personal fulfillment, or a mix of both. No matter the reason for going back to work after baby, here are some things to keep in mind:
- It Gets Easier – The beginning is incredibly emotional. Prepare yourself. Whether you eagerly run back to work (like me) or take your time, the transition is pretty crazy. Everything just feels “off.” Many people say that having a baby feels like living in a fog. When maternity leave typically ends, it’s at a point where you can slightly see through that fog. Then the first day back at work comes and it feels like the blinding, dense fog has rolled back in. But fog always dissipates. It just takes time—go easy on yourself.
- Seek Out the Tribe – Even if it doesn’t feel like it, there will be someone who understands the struggle around you. Maybe not on your direct team or department, but put the beacon out. Some companies have working parents groups that you never knew about because they fly under the radar of non-parents. People talk about parents needing support groups—those networks need to extend into the work environment as well.
- Nursing is Hard – This one is for nursing moms. There’s a ton of information and tips about the evolving relationship between nursing moms and the workplace. Even if the company you work for offers top-notch facilities and policies, it’s still going to be hard. Bodies are hard wired to produce milk when you’re with your baby. If you’re routinely away, those signals get weaker. Not to mention, it might just be too hard to maintain. It’s best to stay open-minded about what nursing means to you, as you transition back to work.
- Don’t Beat Yourself Up – Not matter your reason for working, you’ve likely made that decision for your betterment of your baby. There are pros and cons to every decision you make in life. You are the ONLY person that knows what’s best for your specific needs and growing family. Trust your instincts and don’t punish yourself for being decisive.
- Be Your Own Advocate – Be vocal about your needs. The earlier the better. That could mean negotiating to work remotely or shorter weeks/days. One of the grossly understated facts about being a parent is that it forces you to become better at multitasking and time management. Both highly valuable skills in any work situation. Believe it or not, you have leverage. Speak up!
- Have an On-Call Team – 70% of working moms say they’ve been pulled away from a work commitment because they didn’t have child care. When you become a parent, you truly become an executive of your household. You have to manage the village of people that help you raise your kids. Invest time to build a team of caregivers you can have on-call to help you—not only in last-minute situations but also for the day-to-day needs of your demanding schedule.
Overall, remember: you’ve got this!
Give yourself time, lean on your support network, trust your instincts, and things will start to fall into place.