9 Things I’ve Learned From Going Back to Work After a Baby

going back to work after baby - Boston Moms Blog

Recently, I was asked to speak on a panel about going back to work after having a baby. Having done this twice, I am definitely no expert, but I can speak about what worked for me. Here are nine things I’ve learned (or wish I’d known) based on a predictable weekday schedule.

1. Let yourself feel all the feels.

Everyone has different feelings about going back to work. After my first baby, I was nervous about going back but also so excited to have a hot cup of coffee and use two hands to eat a meal. With my second, I was much sadder about going back and had a harder time being away from her. It is OK to feel happy, excited, worried, scared, and/or anxious. You may also have ALL the feelings. Own them. You are not better or worse for feeling them. But you do owe it to yourself and your family to acknowledge those feelings.

2. Communicate with your boss and coworkers.

Before you go back, talk to your boss about what you need. If you plan to pump, is there a space for that? Does your company want to invest in a hospital-grade pump? Does your current schedule work for you or do changes need to be made to accommodate childcare? Also, talk to other moms at your workplace. What was helpful for them? Whose shoulder can you cry on on your first day back?

3. Choose a childcare arrangement that feels good for you.

Try to arrange at least one full day at your chosen childcare center or with your new nanny before you go back to work. This day will mostly be for you to get used to letting go. If you can, do something good for yourself. Massage? Lunch with friends? Go for a run? Nap? Use this day to bring in all the supplies you’ll need at work to avoid that morning rush on your first day back. Also, figure out the best way to communicate during the day with your childcare provider and what to expect in terms of communication from them. 

4. Schedule and prioritize your pumping sessions.

If you plan to pump, treat your pumping sessions like you would any other meeting. Schedule them and prioritize them. The first time you pump at the office will feel weird, even if you’ve been pumping through your maternity leave. You will likely also have a new appreciation for dairy cows. Eventually, you will get into a groove and figure out a system for cleaning and storing pump parts, and ways to pass the time during pump sessions. Talk to your healthcare provider about shortcuts you feel comfortable with. The second time around, I cut down my pumping and bottle cleaning time so much just by talking to other moms and checking in with my midwife for tips! Also, keep some spare parts and wipes at the office just in case.

5. Never underestimate the power of planning.

Weekdays will feel like a mad rush — getting out the door, rushing for daycare pick up, prepping dinner, getting baby to bed before a meltdown, and maybe even watching Netflix before passing out yourself. Taking time to plan will help make things feel a little more predictable. Having a menu plan for the week helps avoid the stress of figuring out dinner in the moment and also lets you be your own sous chef the night before. Sometimes, I can even get away with meal prep the Sunday before the weeks starts! Planning also helps make sure you and your partner, if applicable, get to do the things you want — hello, book club!

6. The weekends will go by very quickly.

Sometimes, in the moment, the weekends will feel like forever. Figure out what works best for your family. Some people like scheduled activities on the weekends, while others like to keep it chill and informal. You are developing a family culture. And the weekends are when it manifests the most. What are your family values? What traditions are you creating? What is important to your family? My family observes Shabbat, so we have a built-in marker separating the weekdays from the weekend. It is a natural way to switch from the weekday rush to the calm(er) weekend.

7. Don’t forget yourself.

In between work and momming, it is so easy to lose yourself. Find at least one thing that is separate from your work self and your mom self, and make sure you give it the time and space it deserves. Give yourself time for you and what you love. And don’t feel guilty about it. For me, the gym and yoga are critical “me” time. My best friend and I also have standing phone dates.

8. Time is limited. Prioritize what matters.

This can be in terms of figuring out which people in your life deserve your attention, which fights are worth having, or which chores are worth doing. A cleaning lady, DoorDash, or PeaPod can be lifesavers. Figure out what’s crucial to you. A periodic cleaning lady is my splurge, and it has truly been a game changer.

9. Crowdsource for advice and support.

The transition back to work is so hard, especially on top of the first year of parenting, which is already so difficult. Find your people. Talk to other moms who have been there. Talk to other moms who are real about the whole parenting thing. Find your favorite blogs. It will get better. It may get worse. But then it will get better again.

 

Lindsay Goldberg is a working mom who then comes home and works there, too. She loves finding quick, healthy recipes to make for her family and lives for her Sunday morning escape to the gym. She has given up on trying to find balance, and is, instead focused on surviving and being Good Enough. Likes- books, family dance parties, morning snuggles, and drinking coffee when it's still hot. Dislikes- recipes with more than 10 ingredients or 10 steps, winter, and deadlines