By Natalie Bascur
Let’s be honest… seeing the number of maternity leave days count down SUCKS! Most mamas would gladly set up camp in the newborn bubble and stay there for the rest of the days. But that’s not reality and there comes a time in most new mamas’ lives, when you’re going to have to adjust from caring for a new little human 24/7 to going back to work – in whatever capacity that may be.
As the mat leave days dwindle, it’s totes normal for you to have mixed feelings – nervousness, anticipation, excitement and guilt. Allow yourself to feel all of these emotions (and remember that it’s normal to feel this way), while also dealing with the fear of leaving your bambino – either with family or in day care – for the first time. Feeling loss or grief is also common, as you have had your baby completely reliant on you and you on them, for often the better part of a year, that first week back can be incredibly challenging for even the most independently fierce women.
All you can do is prepare for the ups and downs, and know that it gets EASIER over time, it’s just about finding the balance that works best for you and your fam-bam.
6 ways to adjust to returning to work after having a baby
1 // BABY STEPS
Be kind to yourself and realise there is no set amount of time to adjust to heading back to work. It’s different for everyone and there is no right or wrong time frame. Having a baby changes not only your perspective on life but you as a person, in ways you may not realise at first. Try and prepare for the looming deadline by asking a family member or a close friend to watch your baby once or twice a week, for a couple of hours at first building up to a whole day as you feel more comfortable. It’s hard to trust others to do things exactly as you would, but by having people you know well looking after bub, you can feel free to call as often as you need when you want to check in, plus it leaves time for you to just be you and get some much needed me time. Think of it as a trial run, this allows you to tweak things and practice the routine to see if it works for you.
2 // TAILOR YOUR ROLE
If you are going back into your previous role, try and chat to your boss before starting and work out if it’s possible to tailor the hours to suit child care drop off and pick up, or return on a part time basis. Even one day a week, working from home, can make things much easier starting out.
3 // DAY CARE DREAM NOT DRAMA
If you’re going to be reliant on day care, look into your options well before you go back to work, so you find one that suits you and your bae; and to make sure they have a vacancy. It’s important to find one where you like the staff, where existing nap times can be kept to and if you have certain foods your baby has that they can be given to them. Also, one that is practical and easy enough to get to from your office. No one wants to have the added burden of constant peak hour stress to deal with when you will already be riding a potential emotional rollercoaster.
4 // NEW START
If your previous role doesn’t feel right for you in managing your new work/life balance, don’t be afraid to start over. Some roles are simply too hard to continue until your kids are in school – don’t try and be a super mama and burn out. Accept that (at least for right now) your priorities have changed, and look for a role that will keep not only bub and the family happy, but YOU happy. If you were a copywriter or in marketing full time and worked in an office previously, look at freelancing in a co-office to begin with, or work remotely for some days. If you were a nurse in a hospital, see if there are part time roles in a clinic with earlier finish times, instead of shift work.
5 // ACCEPTENCE AND PATIENCE
While spontaneous after work drinks used to be your jam, it’s OK that your focus right now is back at home. As the kids get older and gain more independence, you will have more time to do unplanned catch ups. Also, don’t underestimate the tiredness factor… unless you are lucky to have a baby who sleeps through the night, it’s likely you will be existing on caffeine for a while, as you get used to operating on less sleep than you would have before baby.
6 // SUPPORT NETWORK
Besides having family and friends to give you a hand with extra babysitting, you need to find your mama tribe. You may have a great network of mum friends from various groups and prenatal classes, but unless they are working mums they won’t be able to entirely comprehend the struggles you will face. Befriend some of the working mums in your office and invite them to lunch once a month or coffee once a week. You could also create a forum or join a Facebook group, where anything and everything can be openly discussed, it can be helpful to see how others have made the transition. You will only grow more as you settle into this new phase of your life. Don’t apologise for raising a tiny human and doing a paid job. Be proud of yourself, you are a freaking awesome multitasking mama. You got this!