Since your newborn’s birth, talk consists of everything baby-related: name, age, weight and hours spent in labor. While you love discussing your bundle of joy, you’ve got other labor in mind — returning to work and life post-maternity leave.
How do you get back into gear when your leave is up and you have to start a new routine with baby? Your slow integration back into the world of work and life will make you feel stuck in a weird time warp, but with a few baby steps, you’ll get back on track in no time:
1. Remember How to Speak Adult
You’ve spent your time with family, and most of that time with your newborn. Chances are you also speak in baby talk to yourself, especially with reminders and needs: “Go to sleep now, silly. Don’t forget the breast pump or your boobies are going to be two sore, leaky and squeaky balloons!”
Other moms will understand if you talk this way while you’re in the grocery store, but the cashier may look a little confused. Your boss will probably turn several shades red when you refer to them as “silly” or your biggest client as “sweetie.” Skip the sweet whimsy, and slow down when talking as you remember how to speak adult.
2. You’re Going to Need New Work Clothes
Don’t skip the postpartum shopping spree. As your body continues to recover, your shape and weight will fluctuate. Buying new clothes today only to toss them in two months may seem senseless, but you don’t want to be late for your first day back as you try to find something that fits — anything that isn’t stretchy yoga pants.
Keep in mind it will take your uterus six to eight weeks to get back into pre-pregnancy gear, and the rest of your body will need time to adjust, too.
3. Chat With Your Boss
When you return to work, schedule a short chat with your boss to get up to speed. Address any questions or concerns they have and raise your own. As you made a plan for leaving, you’ll need a plan for integrating back into your workflow.
Will you be working your usual hours or slowly increasing your work hours? Half days will be easier for you and your child, especially if they’ll be at daycare. While 47 percent of mothers believe part-time work is ideal for maintaining a work-life balance, keeping a full-time job with a flexible work schedule is best for your family in the long-term. It’s okay to take it slow.
Do you need any accommodations to get through the day for your physical health, such as more breaks to pump milk? Do you need a different chair for your back? Send emails to let colleagues and clients know you’re back in action.
Take it one step at a time and know you don’t have to bring your A-game on the first day. Getting back in the workflow is a process, and you’re a true professional to realize this.
4. Use Your Most Powerful Word
Moms everywhere know the power of “because I said so” even if they hated hearing it as a child themselves. It typically stops or slows any protests or temper tantrums. Take that firm mama tone and apply it to the most powerful word you know but don’t often use: “No.”
As if having a child wasn’t enough to shake up life! Your work-life balance will be threatened by your prior obligations and by new “requests” left and right. Don’t feel pressured to accept additional obligations, work-related or social, that will overwhelm you and threaten your mental, emotional or physical health. If you take on too much, you will burn out. Say no, and don’t feel guilty about it.
5. Focus on Small Meals and Healthy Snacks
When you’re in a rush, meal planning for a whole family — much less yourself — presents a challenge that leaves you defeated and hungry. It’s important to keep your health up as you produce milk and recover. As you get back into gear in other areas of life, eating healthily will give you the energy you need to get through the day.
Focus on creating small meals to eat throughout the day, such as a spread of hummus, vegetables, nuts and cheeses. Breastfeeding or not, super foods like protein-packed almonds that may help boost milk supply and sunflower seeds that are packed with fiber and high selenium, which helps repair damaged cells, are great choices. Such a healthy combination is important to recovery and breastfeeding. Make trail mix and carry small snacks with you.
6. Make a List and Check It Twice
When you return to work and life, you’ll resume many responsibilities with many new ones to balance, especially with your new child in tow. Time management will be intrinsic to your success and sanity, though not everything goes according to plan. Think like Santa: Make a list and check it twice.
Sticky notes on the fridge and on your computer are helpful and handy, but the cloud and your smartphone apps will be your best friends to get through daily routines, such as the Baby Tracker Nursing App and Mom Maps. Keep track of your nursing and child-friendly restaurants when you need to have the baby in tow for errands and work-related adventures. A shared calendar will allow your family to keep track of each other’s schedules along with meal planning. Make the lists, and check them twice.