Of all the stresses motherhood brings — and it brings many — one of the biggest is returning to work after having a baby.
Between finding childcare and identifying work clothes that still fit comfortably, many moms find the transition both emotional and guilt-ridden — whether they've been on leave for six months or more.
Here are some ways to help prepare you for a smooth and guilt-free transition based on views from some working mothers and Ariel Dalfen, the author of When Baby Brings the Blues.
1. Ease into your new routine
After having a child, you will have a new routine and it will take some time to get into the swing of a new plan. To help the transition, start your preparation early. For example, if you are putting your baby in a childcare centre, you can prepare yourself by starting your baby in daycare a full two weeks before your back-to-work date. This will help both you and your baby get accustomed to new caregivers and a new routine. If your boss is flexible, you could even try to use your accrued vacation time to ease back into fulltime employment gradually by initially only working four days a week.
Be patient with yourself!
2. See the bigger picture
It is important to remember as you go back to the office that your priorities have likely shifted and you’ll need to adapt. As a mother, probably you’ll now likely want to try to always make it home in time for your child’s dinner and bedtime. Try to do what you can, and when you can. See your week or month as the bigger picture, rather than each day.
3. Talk to your employer: He or she may be more flexible than you think
Some companies implement family-friendly employment practices, such as flexible working hours, flexitime, work from home and job sharing to help attract and retain talent. Talk to your boss or HR to understand what measures are in place to facilitate staff to take care of their families. Your manager could be more flexible than you think.
4. Take advantage of your company’s benefits
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or find yourself experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression, consider turning to the resources your employer may have as part of its workplace health and benefits program.
5. Remember that adjustment takes time
Don’t draw any conclusions about whether returning to work will be a success or not too soon. Adjustment takes time. And do remember nothing is written in stone and you can always make adjustments. For example, you could have a short break if you are not happy with office life after returning to work.
Make the choice that feels right for you!
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