Working Mother: Your First Day Back to Work after Maternity Leave

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This working mother tells her daughter about her first day back to work after maternity leave.
Image by Unsplash.

For any new mother, facing the reality that your maternity leave is coming to an end can be difficult. You’ve just spent several weeks together bonding and adjusting with the baby. The emotions of this can be enough as is, but throwing your career into the mix can be overwhelming. Shifting your priorities and coping with your new lifestyle will come with time. Don’t rush into anything you’re not ready for. A good employer will understand that it will take time for you to adjust to your position again fully. For a working mother, here is how to make the first day back to work after maternity leave a smoother one. Follow these 5 tips for a successful return.

Plan for the First Day Back to Work after Maternity Leave

The best way to prepare for the first day back to work after maternity leave is to plan everything out ahead of time. Start by making yourself a to-do list of what that you must accomplish before going back. Sit down with your significant other and work out your plan for childcare and coordinate both of your schedules to fit with it. Investing in a family calendar can be helpful to see each of your commitments and if there will be any overlaps in your schedules.

Also, start to use the weekends to plan out your meals and prepare them ahead of time. Doing so can save new moms a lot of time during the week. Start freezing dinners so you or your partner can simply reheat them at the end of the day for a fast meal.

Another great tip for working mothers is to lay out yours and baby’s outfits the night before. Prepare your work bag and the diaper bag ahead of time too. These activities can save you precious time during hectic mornings. To ensure that your mornings are as smooth as possible, take a practice route to your childcare center and the office at least a week before your first day back to work after maternity leave. Then you will know how much time to allocate on that first morning and moving forward.

Coordinate With Your Office

Once you officially know when your first day back to work after maternity leave will be, and when feel confident about doing so, ask for a sit-down meeting with your supervisor and HR department. It’s important to show them that you plan to put 110% commitment into your position and that you are fully ready to return to the office.

During the meeting, make sure that you are all on the same page regarding your work projects and any updates while you were on leave. Verify that all necessary paperwork has been signed too. Your HR department and supervisor can also be great resources for any questions you have as a working mother, such as:

  • Is there a private room for your breast pumping needs?
  • Are there flexible work arrangements available to employees? For example, are there flexible hours at work?

Make the most of the meeting by asking them the important questions on your mind. Also, tell them any limitations you may be facing postpartum.

Be the Best Possible Version of You

One of the best ways to maintain your sanity during this all is to practice self-care. It’s important for your overall health and mental well-being that you take care of yourself during times when it’s easy to lose a sense of self. Many mothers tend to take care of everyone else before themselves, but it’s okay to put yourself first every once in a while.

Spend a few days before you go back to the office pampering yourself. Get a haircut, grab lunch with friends you haven’t seen in a while or have a spa day. Invest in a few new pieces for your professional wardrobe, such as sensible footwear options, a few high-quality bras, dress pants, and blouses. Once you fully adjust into the working mother lifestyle, it’s important that you remember to still take care of yourself.

Simple activities that can help you to not only be your best self but also perform at your peak at work and at home include:

      • Getting enough sleep
      • Doing a hobby you enjoy
      • Taking a long bath
      • Learn coping tips in books 

Let Go of any Guilt as a Working Mother

It’s extremely common for a working mother to feel guilty about returning to her career. It’s not easy to suddenly go from spending every minute with your baby to separation for 8+ hours. Remember though that you wouldn’t be heading to your first day back to work after maternity leave if it wasn’t the best thing for you and your family. Maybe it’s the financially wisest decision or simply that you enjoy your career. Neither one should make you feel any form of guilt.

Many women work hard to obtain a degree, advance within their chosen field and create a name for themselves at their companies. Choosing to return to your profession is a commendable decision. Your baby will be so excited to see you at the end of the day. Know that even if you worry you will miss a milestone, the first time you witness that milestone will mean more to you than knowing it happened once before while you were at work.

Ask For Help

Easing back into the workplace is not a task that you need to face alone. If you feel overwhelmed at work or home, ask for help. Being too full of pride to get assistance from others will only stress you out more. It’s okay to let others help you. Your coworkers, family, and friends are all there for you.

Perhaps it’s having someone take something off your plate of tasks at work. Or you might ask a family member to watch your child for a few hours to give you a mental break. These things can all make a difference. Find your inner circle. If there are other mothers in your office or community groups that you can reach out to for advice, do so. It’s great to have friends who understand what you’re going through too who you can chat with regularly. Arrange playdates for your children as a way to give yourself a break too as a working mother.

While this transition can be a difficult one to manage, it is doable. Take it slowly before and after your first day back to work after maternity leave. Getting back into your comfort zone at work and as a new mother takes time. As women, we often feel unrealistic expectations to be perfect in the roles that we take on in life. However, it’s okay not always to perform perfectly. We’re only human after all. So know that you are doing your best and many people value you.

3 COMMENTS

  1. As a therapist specializing in postpartum and perinatal care I have to say that these are great suggestions! Returning from maternity leave comes with a lot of mixed emotions and sometimes just downright devastation. I think with these suggestions a mom is definitely doing everything she can to set herself up for success.

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