Parental leave laws vary greatly around the world. While some countries are much further advanced in their paid leave policies, others are continuously falling behind. This time can be crucial in bonding with your child, resting and recovering. Although, no matter how much time you spend at home with your newborn, it will never seem like enough. For many mothers the idea of returning to work can seem like the largest hurdle they will ever face in their career.
Most women choose to return to work either purely for the satisfaction that they get out of their career, or because they are not in the financial situation where they are able to stay at home. Either way, women should be commended for taking on this journey of being a working mum, not criticized. Negative stigmas still surround this concept, and it is unfair. They work hard to earn a degree, start a career and work their way up the ladder. No woman should be viewed as less capable or less focused on her career simply because she chose to have children and follow her dreams.
The hardest part of the transition may be the idea of leaving your baby for several hours each day. Yes, mom guilt is real, but it gets better in time. Remember that adult interaction is extremely important as well. You’re making the decision that is best for you and your family, so why does it still seem so hard?
If you’re a new mum to make the return to work, apply these tips and tricks to successfully managing your transition.
Being prepared ahead of time can reduce the chaoticness of each morning before work. By stocking up on certain essentials and planning for the week to come, you’ll not only set yourself up for a positive week, but you’ll also feel less stressed.
- Dinners – doing your grocery shopping on the weekend is a smart way to less frequently purchase lunches out and also have multiple options to choose from for dinners throughout the week. If you’re trying to eat healthier or simply save time, try meal prepping. When you get stuck in a meeting later than expected it’s nice to come home to a prepared meal that just needs to be heated.
- Planned outfits – You may be surprised to learn that you can shave a few minutes off in the morning simply by laying yours and your child’s outfits out ahead of time. Focusing on what makes you feel your best is important. Your new wardrobe essentials will likely include comfortable footwear and a supportive nursing bra, rather than high heels and a tight business dress.
- Healthy desk snacks – If you’re hoping to lose your baby weight, avoid the office kitchen at all costs. Instead, choose a few healthy snack options that you can store in your drawer for the moments when hunger calls.
Take it Slow
Easing your way back into your everyday workload is important. Rushing into things only leads you down a path of stress and inability to keep up. Find ways to make this process smoother that will ultimately help you succeed rather than set you back.
If you have the ability to set your return date for the middle of the week sometime, do so. Your week will be shorter and more manageable. Talk to your company about the arrangements that may have available to office staff. If there is a flexible arrangement available, you can arrange your schedule in a way that allows you to do a day or two from home or work earlier hours. It’s also important that you set realistic boundaries for yourself. If you’re feeling like you’ve taken on too much, practice saying “no” more often. It’s okay to ask for help from others or to say no when someone asks for help on a project. Focus on your own work and only offer your service if you truly have the free time to do so.
Meet With Your Team
When planning your return, ask to have a meeting arranged with your team and manager. Write down any questions that you’d like to ask them, as they’ll likely have a plan in place for you already.
- Ask about team updates and any news regarding your clients or the company in general. This will show your boss that you are committed and prepared.
- Organizing your top priorities can help you start out on a successful path. What projects will you be working on? What tasks are most important to accomplish first? What are your manager’s expectations?
- How will the workload be transferred over to you from the staff member that was covering for you? Ask your manager for clear details on what they had in mind.
- Notify your boss of any limitations that you may be facing that would interfere with your ability to perform your job.
Know Your Rights
Much like maternity leave varies by location, so do laws relating to breastfeeding needs that employers must contribute. Check your local state, country or territory laws to be sure that your employer will adequately meet your needs as a new working mother. This includes ensuring that you have a private space that you can breastfeed in at the office. Are you being given enough breaks throughout the day to meet your feeding needs?
Take Care of Yourself
Make time for yourself, even when it’s the last thing on your mind. It’s extremely important for your own health and sanity, as well as those around you. Neglecting your own needs can lead to negative consequences that have long-term effects. There are simple ways that you can do take care of yourself without using the excuse “I don’t have time.”
- Get plenty of rest each night.
- Don’t skip your lunch break at work. You’re given this time for a reason, so use it.
- Choose a hobby that you enjoy and keep up with it.
- Meditate for a few minutes each morning.
- Take a fun exercise class.
Manage Your Emotions
Working mums will experience a wide array of emotions as their hormones rebalance and they recover from the stress of changes in their biological, emotional, and social environments. This can put them at a higher risk of developing psychiatric problems such as postpartum depression and anxiety. The issue is that most women who are experiencing this, tend to push it to the side rather than treating it. Leaving PPD untreated can begin to seriously affect your personal well-being, your family and your career. Learning to manage your emotions properly, can help you to stay at your best. Be never ashamed to ask for help if you need it whether you’re experiencing PPD or are simply overwhelmed. Discover stress management techniques that work for you. Yoga, meditation or counselling can all be effective options.
Letting go of the guilt of choosing to your career is an important first step in managing this transition effectively. The first time that you pick your child up from daycare or the nanny and you see that they are perfectly okay, you’ll feel much better. Only time can truly help you ease back into your comfort zone at work, but you’ll get there eventually. Keep your mind focused on being the best mother and employee that you can be, but find a happy balance between the two.