Just as you get used being home with the new baby and work life starts to drift into distant memory, maternity leave is over. Getting “back to work,” despite how people call it, is actually going “into a whole new world and life schedule” itself.
I tell all of my nanny agency clients that as a working parent, you should remember that it is QUALITY not Quantity that matters. You will still be an incredible parent if you are working full-time. No teacher, nanny, daycare worker will ever take your place. Make the most of the times you see your child each day. Create special goodbye rituals (a special hug or song) and return rituals at home (story time, bath fun, even talking together at dinner). Make the most of the time you are together!
Here are 3-key tips to help your transition back to work after maternity leave less stressful:
- Choose a return date
- Confirm how much maternity and/or paternity leave is available to you
- Decide how long after the baby is born you will return to work
- Even if the return date can be flexible, pick a date and stick to it so that you can plan accordingly
- Think about your working schedule
- Can you modify your working hours? Work some time from home? Work shorter hours?
- If so, put together your ideal plan that you believe will be beneficial for both you and your employer
- Create parental and house responsibilities game plan
- Sit down with your partner and list all of the parental responsibilities (including late night feedings, shopping for diapers, doctor’s appointments, etc
- list all of the responsibilities and duties around the home that need to be taken care of
- Roughly assign who will do what task (for example, maybe Mom will take feedings from 9pm – 2am and Dad will take feeding from 2am – 7am. Mom will be in charge of dinner on Monday and Wednesday and Dad will do dinner on Tuesday and Friday and Thursday will be take-out night)
- During this discussion, think about what items the nanny (if you will be adding a nanny) can take care of (shopping for baby supplies) or whether bringing on a housekeeper one day a week would be helpful.
Some additional preparations to make before returning to work
- Are you going to need some time to prepare before going back to work? Time for research, time to get caught up on missed work or emails, time to attend some work dinners or appointments with clients?
- If it is necessary for you to do some work prior to returning, start looking for support from friends and family as soon as possible. Even if you are going to be at home, have someone come to your home to watch the baby so that you can concentrate on your work.
- Plan an evening or two for you and your partner to enjoy some time alone before the stress and busyness of returning to work begins. You both need some relax time to enjoy each other before this next phase starts.
Consider Your Childcare Transition
- Decide on a date for your childcare to start
- Allow time for a “phasing in” of the childcare (Daycare or Nanny)
- Create a plan where the baby will either begin short stays at the daycare or the nanny starts for a few hours a day and work into full shifts of childcare
Plan Your New Schedule for Each Morning
- Plan out how much time it will take to get both you and the baby ready in the morning (including time for morning cuddles!) and make sure to account for traffic
- Do a “test run” a few times (try to have the caregiver there at the time that she would normally come, if possible) and actually do the whole morning routine (including leaving the house and the baby with the caregiver)
Let the Baby Spend a Few Hours with the Caregiver
- Take some time to get your haircut or buy some new clothes as this “test run” of a few hours apart is good for all of you
- This will also give the caregiver a chance to ask any questions that might have come up during the short time you were away
- Communicate with the caregiver during the day
- Ask the caregiver to send you texts during the day (We are off to the park!)
- Have the caregiver snap pictures of your baby and send them periodically to you
Most of all…enjoy your time! It all goes by so fast!!