I had very mixed feelings when my maternity leave ended and it was time to go back to work after my little man was born. I was going so stir crazy staying home with the baby and I was excited to go back to work, but I was terrified at the concept of having to spend time away from the baby, and even more terrified about leaving the baby at daycare. Of course Facebook was suggesting all kinds of terrifying articles about babies that died in daycare or were mistreated, which did a lot to ease my fears of course!
I was also concerned about doing my job properly without any sleep. My sweet little boy wasn’t sleeping very much. He very kindly started sleeping through the night consistently the week I returned to work. (How considerate is that?!).
My first few weeks I came back to work, I came back just two days a week to ease back in. Also, this way we could keep him at home for a few more weeks. It felt almost wrong to not have a baby constantly attached to me, but it was seriously glorious to get out of the house and go to work, and have adult conversations.
Those weeks went by quickly. Before I knew it, it was time to take him to daycare. The day before he was supposed to start, my husband and baby got into a car accident. It was very minor, neither of them were hurt, but of course it only exacerbated my fears.
Here is what you need to know about returning to work after having a baby:
1. You will probably cry-And that really is ok.
As one of my professional mentors (Marcy!) said to me once when I became emotional after a particularly difficult session with a client, it’s ok to have emotions, it’s ok that things get to you. It’s what makes you a good professional. And (this is my addition) it’s what makes you a great mother.
The day I took our little man to daycare for the first timeI was a wreck. I cried when I dropped him off, and the daycare owner playfully told me, “We’ll take good care of him. After all, we are taking care of your two most important things, your child and your money!”. I laughed/sobbed in response to her joke. And I was still a crying sniveling mess when I arrived to work. I was incredibly embarrassed, but my small department was very understanding of my disastrous state, and my boss had wisely recommended that I keep my morning free of client appointments. I recommmend doing what you can to keep your day relatively light when you first return to work.
2. You aren’t a bad mother for choosing to work outside the home.
All parents have different needs, and so do children. Do what you need to do for you, whether it be staying home, working, or something in between! And anyone who says different can take their opinions and stick them…somewhere far away from you. 😉
3. You might be relieved to be back at work, and that might make you feel guilty.
Do yourself a favor and stop the guilt circle. Again, do what you need to for your family and yourself. While your children need you, they especially need you mentally well. And if that means you need to spend some time away from home at work, that is perfectly acceptable.
4. You will be thinking about your sweet baby constantly while you go about your work day.
Gradually it will become easier to stay focused and do your job. You are going to second guess your decision half a million times. And then a million more. There are no 100% magic right answers, read more about that here. The longer you have been back from maternity leave, the easier it will be to go to work.
They had told me I could call and check on him when I dropped him off. And boy, I did call to check on him! When I would call to see how he was doing, the answer was, “he is sleeping” or “he is eating”, because really, what else do newborns do? Gradually, it felt normal to drop him off, instead of neglectful and wrong. I knew they would take good care of him, and I was comfortable making it through the day without calling to check on him.
5. Wait until you have been back at work for as long as you were gone on maternity leave before you make any big work decisions.
Having a baby is life changing, and you will be exhausted, and your body will be going through crazy adjustments and your hormones will be a mess. After our little man was born, I thought that there was no way that I would ever be able to leave him. Fast forward to a few weeks later, and while I was still concerned about leaving him, for my own mental health I needed to return to work.
So there you have it! 5 things you need to know about returning to work! Anything I missed? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you :).