In three days I come face to face with the day I have been dreading for over a year – my return to work from maternity leave. I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to make it through this event with minimal tears and maximum success. To attempt to better prepare myself, I took to the oracle that is Facebook to consult my fellow parents who have made it through the experience alive. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when at least half of the responses to my query didn’t contain any tips at all, but instead mirrored the sentiments of my question instead.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
“I can’t even think about saying goodbye to my little and going off to work.”
“This is going to be so hard.”
I hope it doesn’t sound cold-hearted to say that these comments actually helped me as much as the advice comments did. It made me feel a little bit better to know that there are tons of other moms (and dads) out there who feel the same way I’m feeling right now, and that I’m not being overdramatic. It’s a big, daunting transition for two people and we are taking on the challenge for both of us. Mixed in with these anxious comments, however, were some really golden nuggets of wisdom that have been both encouraging and helpful. Unfortunately, a whole bunch of the comments from an original post I made were deleted, so I can’t credit all of them to the awesome ladies who shared them with me, so I’m sorry about that! If you think there’s something from this list that’s missing, please add it to the comments section below!
HOW TO SURVIVE YOUR RETURN TO WORK AFTER MATERNITY LEAVE
“Treat returning to work with the same preparation you did having a new baby. Those first 4-6 weeks are a whole new routine. Order meals/prepare supper for the freezer/create a schedule for cleaning /hire a maid. You’re going to need to adjust to a whole new lifestyle – both you and your kid. Everyone is going to be tired and emotional.” – Hannah
“Make some freezer meals or plan crock pot meals; you will be exhausted at the beginning and won’t want to even think about dinner. Pack your diaper bag the night before and lay out everything you need that night so the morning is less stressful. Baby may have a tough transition but just know that it will get better and socialization is so important for their growth and development. Also just keep in mind that you’re doing what’s best for your family and that it will be hard at the beginning but just keep going and eventually you will find your rhythm.” – Brittany
“I didn’t go back full time, but oh man, one thing I wish I did earlier was get a housekeeper to come in every once in a while! $50 for a few hours every few weeks is SO worth it. And I enjoy having a spotless house way more than blowing $50 on eating out or buying something pointless.” – Kathleen
“Put a couple shots of Bailey’s in your to-go mug on that first day back; you’ll breeze right through the day. Just kidding (use vodka).” – Toby
“Go to bed early, even if [your significant other] isn’t home or just walked in the door. It’s hard to get used to not having much (if any) one-on-one time, but it’s necessary. After baby is in bed, load up the dishwasher and run it. Talk to your SO about sharing responsibilities – you’re going back to work and looking after the kids, and doing chores…he should be able to help as well.” – Bree
“Mom guilt is inevitable. The sooner you accept that you will feel guilty the better. You will feel bad for leaving your child. I certainly did. The guilt was and is worse on the days they’re sick, because all they want is you!” – Babley
“PRAY PRAY PRAY and TRUST TRUST TRUST. I know it seems obvious but I had to tell myself multiple times per day that God loves my baby a whole lot more than we do and therefore, I can trust that He is taking care of her. I was actually amazed by how she (and I) thrived when I went back to work. It was GOOD for us to have our time apart and I think it makes me a better mama.” – Jessilyn
“Try to start your child at their daycare or day home prior to your return to work. This way, you can ease into the transition, rather than jumping right in. Start them off with half days and work your way up to full days. As much as it hurts, it’s best to drop them off and go, rather than sticking around; staying only delays the inevitable and makes it tougher on you and the baby. It’s totally OK to cry in your car.”
“One mundane tip is to keep on top of laundry. Check to see if your washing machine has a ‘delay’ setting. Mine did, so I put the clothes and detergent in the machine in the morning, and set it to start about an hour before I expected to return home. I would walk in the door and move the clothes to the dryer. After supper, me or DH would fold and put away that load. Doing one load a day meant we didn’t run out of clean clothes and I didn’t have a mountain of laundry to do on the weekend.” – Erin
“In your first week back, go for lunch with co-workers or friends if it’s possible. The adult conversation is probably something you’ve missed!”
“I didn’t find it hard because I constantly had the phrase, “You’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do” in my mind. Some parents are single parents with single incomes and when it comes to maternity leave running out you have absolutely no choice but to put your best dress on, feelings aside and buck up to the challenge that is life, otherwise you and your little don’t eat or have a roof over your heads. It’s a swift kick in the rear end but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.” – Sarah
“The most important advice of all: Talk to your other working mama friends about it! We are all in this together!!” – Jessilyn
Thanks again to everyone who shared their wisdom with me! I know that the first days and weeks are going to be a challenge, but I’m sure these tips will help to ease some of the stress. Wish me luck!