As your maternity leave nears an end, you may find yourself full of mixed emotions: Amazed that the time has gone so quickly. Sad to be away from your baby. Excited to be reunited with old friends and putting your (other) talents to work again. Nervous about the unknown.
Having been through the process a couple of times myself (though I now work from home), I found that these tips (shared by others along the way) helped me. And I hope they help you with the transition, too.
Tip #1: Rest up.
While you may get the urge to tie up loose ends before going back to work, try to resist. Use the quiet time to recharge—maybe even clock some extra cuddle time. You’ll be as sharp as possible as you’re getting back into the swing of things at work, and you’ll be in better shape to handle the various emotions you’re feeling.
Tip #2: Ease into childcare.
Once you determine who will be caring for your child, set up some time before you go back to do trial care. Start with an hour, then eventually work your way up to the full amount of time you’ll be gone. The caretaker will get to know your baby. Your baby will get to know the caretaker, and possibly another setting with other children. And you’ll have time to run those errands you skipped to nap along the way. (Or to nap some more.)
Tip #3: Visit your office before your return date.
Go by to say hello to your colleagues and catch up on what’s been happening around your workplace. Set up a time to meet with HR to discuss any questions you have about the return process or your rights. Check to be sure there’s a place you’ll be able to pump and store milk should you plan to continue breastfeeding. If you work in a baby-friendly environment, take the baby with you so everyone can see what a wonderful mom you are too.
Tip #4: Set your return-to-work date for mid-week.
Getting back up and running at work can take a couple days. Most moms I know have said they’re surprised by how much they enjoy the first couple days — seeing friends, hearing the latest developments, and, of course, bragging about their baby. Then once you’ve gotten into a good rhythm, it will already be the weekend, and you’ll get some quality time enjoying your baby.
Tip #5: Schedule a childcare check-in time.
If you think you’ll want updates on your baby, talk to your childcare provider ahead of time. Find out when a call or text won’t take away from the attention your baby needs. You’ll have something to look forward to, and the childcare provider will have an update ready for you.
Now get those picture frames packed up, buy yourself a new outfit or two, and get ready to amaze even yourself. You rock, mama!