Going Back to Work After Having a Baby

Lori Cornmesser

America has one of the worst and shortest maternity leave policies in the world. Companies are mandated to give mothers of newborn or newly adopted children 12 weeks of unpaid leave annually. Other countries, like in Europe, for comparison, give new mothers paid leave for months after bringing their baby home. In America, while every company has to allow new mothers to take the minimum amount of time off, some companies give more time and even give paid leave. Regardless of how long you get off work and whether you get paid leave or not, many mothers find it incredibly difficult to return to work with a newborn at home. Some mothers, on the other hand, are excited to get back to work and be able to socialize with adults. For those mothers who are dreading this transition back to work, here are some tips to help make the process a little easier.

Practice your new routine before returning to work
You have to take care of a newborn, now have to return to work, continue to run the house, and find time to enjoy yourself. Trying to figure out how to balance all of these things can be extremely overwhelming. Before you go back to work make sure that you get yourself organized. Do a couple of practice runs a week or two before you’re set to start working again. If possible, arrange for you child to be in childcare for the days that you are practicing your new routine. Get used to parting with your child. Even though you may have practiced your new routine, things can come up. When the time does come for you to actually go back to work set you alarm extra early to give you extra time to work out any kinks in your schedule. The only way that your new routine will get easier is with time.

Set aside time for yourself, time with your friends, and time with your partner
If you are only spending time at the office and taking care of your child then you will likely go crazy. While it may seem like you have no extra time in your days, it’s important to schedule time into your week to spend time alone, with your friends and with your partner. You don’t want your relationships to slip through the cracks just because you have a child. It’s important to maintain your relationships with your friends and your partner. Additionally, make sure that you plan in “me time.” Work out a night when your partner will take care of your child so that you can take a long bath or read a book. No matter what you choose to do with your down time, make sure you get the time!

Plan a meeting with your boss
Going back to work after being away for a few weeks may seem daunting. You might be behind on projects or have completely missed out on something new. Schedule a meeting with your boss for your first day back to go over everything important.
Questions that you may want to ask:
Have there been any changes you need to be made aware of? These changes can be anywhere- from leadership to a shift in priorities for the department.
What are the things you need to be working on now that you’re back? Hearing this directly from your boss will give you focus and direction and help you dive right back into things.
Is there any flexibility in your schedule? Maybe you need to work from home for a day if your child is sick or you might want to switch to a part time schedule. Any questions you may have or things you want to bring up with your boss, now is your chance.

Ease into your new schedule
Going back to work may seem extremely overwhelming. One way to make this transition easier is by easing your way back into work. If your boss allows it, start in the middle of the week instead of on Monday. Working a half week instead of a full 40+ hour week will make the transition seem less intense both you and your baby. Another way that you can ease back into working is by working half days on the Thursday and Friday before you are scheduled to start working.

For those mothers who are scared and overwhelmed by the transition back to work remember that you are not alone. Many mothers feel this way and every mother who goes back to work gets through it. There are tips and tricks that you can utilize along the way to help you get through the process and make you and your baby feel more comfortable with your new schedule.