The day is coming that you’ll be returning to work after maternity leave. Or perhaps reentering the workforce after spending a few years at home with the kids. Here’s a primer on how to thrive during the first week back from your leave.
To kick things off the first thing you’ll want to do is a trial run: Since you have already lined up child care, such as a relative or babysitter, or daycare center, do a trial run with them. Without the pressure of having to go to work on your trial run and prepare yourself mentally. You’ll have the flexibility to hang out and help your child adjust to a new caregiver.
You could also take advantage of this free time and run those errands you’ve been thinking about. Like shopping for professional clothes that fit your postpartum figure. Or to accommodate and flatter your figure now, a haircut, or picking up extra supplies for your child’s caregiver.
- Get clear on answers to these questions. Do you have to get yourself ready for the day before your child wakes up? (I would do it before) Or can he or she amuse themselves in a playpen while you dress? Will you eat breakfast at home, in the car, or at work? Who will get your child ready for the day, you or your significant other? Will your child eat at home or at daycare? Then estimate how long it will take for you and your child to get ready in the morning, so that you may establish a routine.
- Give yourself extra time in the morning. Set your alarm for 30 minutes before you need to be up so that you can enjoy a hot cup of coffee in silence and do something for yourself like reading, writing in your journal, or exercising in peace or perhaps some time with your husband.
- Get lots of sleep. Your first week back will probably be draining no matter how prepared you are. Go to bed as soon as possible each evening. Sleep with earplugs if need be and ask your husband to handle any middle of the night waking.
- Consolidate both home and work calendars. When unexpected events happen and they always do, have a calendar that shows both personal and business commitments. While you are scrambling to get a sick kid to the pediatrician you will know which meetings you need to cancel or get a colleague to cover. Or you’ll know when you have to get coverage from your husband, or back up caregiver so that you don’t miss work and keep things running as smooth as possible.
- Prioritize ruthlessly. Working moms have to be efficient. Identify the few key tasks that must be completed to get you up to speed at work. Tackle the most important things early in your workday. That will leave fewer loose ends toward the end of the day when you may have a school emergency. ( picking up a sick kid from school) Brace yourself for the first few months of group child associations, there are usually colds, fevers, and ear infections.
- Suspend self judgement. Don’t be so hard on yourself if you forget some things. Remember this is a motherhood transitional challenge. One day at a time.
- Become a list maker. If you were not a list maker before, you’ll become one. Writing a packing list is a way to lessen stress in the morning. Example, The baby: Four full bottles with caps, Diapers, wipes, powder, extra clothes, blanket, toy. You: Breast pump, empty bottles, lunch box, laptop, purse, cell phone, keys.
- Get prepared the night before for the next day. This will shave some time off your schedule and help you to feel less stressed.
- Create routines that shape your baby’s sleeping and eating times. The eat, play, and sleep routine is a great one. It allows the baby time for naps in the crib and gives the caregiver breaks.
- Get information on “Shared Parental leave and pay”. If your baby was born on or before April 5th, 2o15 you and your spouse may be able to enjoy shared rights to leave and pay. This gives you more flexibility and choices.
- Paternity Leave. You or your spouse could have the right to up to 26 weeks of paternity leave if your child was born on or before or on April 5th, 2015. Additional paternity leave can be taken 20 weeks after the child is born, and finished before the child’s first birthday.
- Reward yourself. Plan a reward that will get you through the first week of work. Maybe it’s a 3 pm pedicure or coffee with your best work friend. You deserve it, it’s important to celebrate our small victories.
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