The New Mom’s Guide to Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

by Pam Moore
Originally Published: 

Planning on returning to work after maternity leave? Here are some tips to help make the transition less painful. Slightly…

1. Don’t show pictures of the baby to all your co-workers. They might inquire, “How’s the baby?” Before you whip out your smartphone, try and remember your pre-baby life. While you keep from weeping for the days of happy hour cocktails and dry clean only clothing, think back to how it felt to feign interest in the children of your friends and co-workers… Don’t be that person.

2. Don’t stress about pumping at work. I mean, why would you be stressed out about attaching a suction device to your nipples while you sit in a room HR has assured you is “private,” except for the absence of a lock on the door, while milk spurts into bottles attached to your engorged breasts, to the tune of Wee-WAH… Wee-WAH… Wee-WAH…? Seriously though, it will work out.

3. Don’t automatically eliminate caffeine just because you are breastfeeding. Disclaimer: I’m a blogger, not a doctor, but I would advise that you give coffee a try and see how what happens before you put the kibosh on the only thing that gets you through the day this daily ritual. If you have to eliminate it, I’m sorry for your loss. But it might be just fine. Also, you might never make the connection when strangers remark that your baby is “so alert” as you sip your latte.

4. Do check references before hiring a sitter. Because when the reference wonders aloud, “Would it kill her to load up the dishwasher without being asked?” do not be surprised to come home to the sitter’s Diet Coke can on your only nice piece of furniture and a sink full of empty bottles. She’ll report the baby slept “fine” and drank “a few bottles” as she walks out the door. So take your time. When you find the reference who says, “We LOVE this woman” it doesn’t matter if you met her at a bar. She will be the one to take your child to the park, make art projects out of Jell-O, and tidy your house. You’ll wish you worked full-time just so your kid can stay with her every day.

5. Do review diaper changing with your sitter. I don’t care if she has “night nurse for triplets” on her resume. Just smile and say something like, “I know this is ridiculous, but if you would humor me, let’s change a diaper, so you’ll know where the diapers and wipes are. Sorry, I am a neurotic new mom!” It pains me to say it, but many people don’t know the front from the back of a diaper. I don’t know how many times I have been puzzled to find my child has soaked through her diaper overnight only to find the sitter put it on backward.

6. Do give your sitter a 30 minute warning before you come home. This gives her a chance to do the things she should have done while the baby was napping, like fold that basket of laundry and wipe down the high chair tray. If she’s awesome and did those things already, she now has plenty of time to put away the books and toys your child has strewn about. The moment you walk into a clean house after working all day- that little moment makes it all worthwhile. Oh, and when your baby smiles and bounces upon seeing your face, that’s pretty good too.

7. Do take your lunch break. Because isn’t lunch the whole point of work? It is fantastic if you if you just love work, but I don’t. I like work but I love chatting with my co-workers over lunch. Also, I have a thing for the cafeteria coconut cream pie. If you are away from your cherub for eight to nine hours, what’s another 30 minutes or so if it means your workday has a fun part that involves gossip and pie?

8. Do get everything ready the night before. It’s hard enough to get out the door when you just need to kiss the baby one last time (ten times). Add a 5:30 am nursing session, another at 7:45, and a diaper change (or two), and you will appreciate any spare second you can find. The night before, lay out your outfit. If you can shower at night without suffering from crazy morning hair, do it. Prep the coffee ready the night before. P.S. Why doesn’t Babies ‘R Us carry Keurigs?

9. Do leave for work before your partner, if schedules allow. And not just because you get sensitive when your child jumps into the sitter’s arms and hardly notices you leaving. If you’re a chatterbox and your partner is a “less is more” talker, leaving a note is more time efficient than hanging around while the sitter reads said note, then telling her everything you already wrote, giving her a tour of the fridge, and chatting about the weather when your husband could have done the hand-off in three minutes, and all you would have had to do was trust that everything would be fine and the sitter would text you with any questions.

10. Do remember that this too shall pass. Which I know, is practically impossible at 2am after you’ve been up with a crying baby and then you get back into bed, turn to your partner and say, “You’re sleeping! I can tell by your breathing. You’re not the only one who has to work tomorrow!” and then loudly fluff your pillow. And when you wake up the next day with sand for eyeballs, the vibe is less “This too shall pass” and more “I feel like a prisoner of war.” But it will pass, I promise. And if my promise is not enough, have a glass of wine. After work, that is.

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