We know what a big transition many of our clients face in returning to work from maternity/paternity so we asked our Director Kristin and Backup Care Director Serena for some of their tips for parents going back into the workforce!
It’s okay to ask for help. I knew it was going to be a challenge heading back to work full time when my daughter was three months old, as I was hearing it from literally every parent I knew! But I had not anticipated was how hard it is to juggle everything as a working mom. It felt like every day was a marathon to get my daughter ready in the morning, go to a full day of work trying to please everyone and get everything accomplished in a day, sit in traffic, come home and feed her, put her to bed, clean bottles, prep bottles or her food for the next day…and finally crash late at night before waking up early to start the same race over again. Hiring a nanny in your home who can alleviate the morning and evening rush (and allow your child to maintain their same routine) really eases the transition.
Plan time for transitions. If you choose the nanny route, schedule a few days before you’re back to work to overlap with your new nanny. If you are like me, it will be an emotional morning heading back to work so alleviating the additional anxiety around the nanny’s first day is very helpful. Also, you’ve become the pro in caring for your child over these last few months so being able to pass the torch can be a fulfilling experience. I also had to remember that no one is me and to let go of the idea that everything would happen at home the same as when I was there. It won’t!
Try to avoid playing catch up. If you are returning to work in the same position, it is likely that a full time person was not hired to backfill you while you’ve been out. This was a surprise to me—wait, most of my work will just pile up for months and still be here when I return?! Yep. Because of this, it is common to feel the need to make up all of lost time in the workforce. You may find yourself working longer hours to make up for the time you were out. For me, I was putting the pressure on myself as I wanted to prove that I could do it all and remind everyone how needed I was at work. Try to avoid this because maternity leave should really mean just that: leave! Working longer hours may have been no biggie when it was just you and your spouse but it may start to cause resentment for your employer when it feels like time away from your new addition.
Start on a Thursday. This may seem like funny advice, but returning to work after my second maternity leave, I was reminded how long that first workweek can feel when you’ve gotten used to the at home pace. If you have the luxury of starting part time and easing into full time, that’s even better. I also recommend having your nanny come to your home of work a couple of times in those first few months (or longer!) to ease the transition.
Give yourself some grace as it’s not always smooth sailing. You have been out of the workforce for a few months and likely away from a computer (or whatever field you are in). You may not feel as efficient and effective as you did three months ago— at least in this realm. Your mind is also somewhere else in many ways. That’s okay! I learned that it’s a journey and that you won’t suddenly be okay being away from home. There are ups and downs. Somedays I wish I was with my kids all day and other days I am relieved to get the stimulation (and in some ways a break). The truth is it’s going to be tough, so plan for it. Get the support you need to feel better about the decisions you are making for your family. If you don’t have a support system already, build one (PEPs, Facebook Parent groups, hospital support groups, childcare you trust).
Hang in there and good luck from the both of us!