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Going back to work after maternity leave

Quick tips on making the transition easier

by Work It, Mom! Team  |  14902 views  |  2 comments  |        Rate this now! 

Being a new mom is hard. Being a new working mom is even harder. On top of the anxiety you feel as a new parent, you're also dealing with responsibilities at the office, trying to get back on your feet after being away for an extended period of time, missing your baby, and -- of course -- working mom guilt. We asked, "What did you do that helped you make the transition back from maternity leave back to work a bit more managable?" Here are a few top tips from your fellow working mothers:

1.) Come back on a Thursday. A two-day week is easier to deal with than a full five-day week.

2.) Visit your baby on your lunch hour. If your childcare provider is not near by, use your lunch time to do exercise, organize, or plan, so that you have more free time to be with your baby once you get home.

3.) Phase work back in to your life. See if your employer will allow you to work part-time for a few weeks before you return to work full-time. (The Family and Medical Leave Act allows for it, but the final decision is up to your company.)

4.) Give yourself permission to feel conflicted/elated/guilty/happy/angry/tired. Your emotions are normal, and it's OK.

5.) Set your schedule -- and stick to it. If the hours your boss wants you to work make it difficult for you to juggle career and parenthood, talk about it and try to set hours that work for you. If possible, avoid setting a bad precedent; if you work late "just this once," you might end up working late every week.

6.) If you're continuing to breastfeed, pump regularly and often to keep your milk supply up.

7.) If you're not pumping, give yourself breaks throughout the day anyway. It will help keep your energy levels up and your mind clear.

8.) See if your boss will allow you to work from home one or more days per week.

9.) Get your support network ready. Know who you can call if you need to vent, and try to network with other women who have been through what you're going through (there are plenty of us here at Work It, Mom!)

10.) Take your time. Transitions aren't instantaneous; it may take you a couple of months -- or more -- to feel like you're really back in the swing of things.


2 comments so far...

  • I had to got back to work after 6 weeks. I would have preferred to stay home for longer but I work for a small firm. Though that was not a benefit, in this economy I have job security because the firm is small and I am the top producer. I also will be able to attend events that take place during the day as she gets older. My husband stayed home with our little girl and he just went back to work. The guilt has set in and is overwhelming me. I had always planned to be a working mom. I have been successful and bring home a large income. My mother who was a nurse and then her second career after raising 6 children is in early education. My daughter started at the nursery she is a supervisor at. I still feel horribly guilty for leaving her and not being a stay at home mom. We determined that I could stay home but since we planned for me to work we would have to drastically change our lifestyle and what we could offer her. I also do like to work so now the guilt has doubled because that has been put on the table. All my friends and sisters are stay at home moms and beg me to stay home. They feel that I should not be concerned that our lifestyle will drastically change and that all I need to offer my little girl is to be home with her. That the extras we can provide for her can't compare to me being at home.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Brandnewmom on 14th November 2008

  • Carol Fishman Cohen writes: For strategy and advice on resuming work after a career break see Back on the Career Track: A Guide for Stay-at-Home Moms Who Want to Return to Work (Warner Books, June 2007) Also check out for resources for mid-career professionals in all stages of career break.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Carol Cohen and Vivian Rabin on 15th April 2008