So, you’ve been out for approximately 6–12 weeks. You have fully recovered from nine months of pregnancy and a grueling delivery, have perfectly bonded with your baby and figured out your new schedule, are sleeping through the night, and you’re ready to jump right back into work even before your leave is up, right? Right?!
I recognize that I’m lucky to work for a company that offers maternity leave benefits. But that doesn’t make the return to work after 12 weeks out any easier, especially since my newborn is my first born!
When I was preparing myself to return to the office last month, I took to Google. As a new mom, up at all hours of the day and night, you find yourself googling EVERYTHING — for better or worse — from childbirth recovery to how much should your baby be eating and sleeping. So, why not google returning to work tips?
Not surprisingly, I found a lot of information from blogs to lists about what to expect. Some of the information was useful. Most was not. I’m hoping this will be helpful for those moms (and dads!) returning to the office.
- The first few days will be tough. You will have forgotten how to make small talk. You won’t remember what is going on with that XYZ project. You probably forgot some of your usernames and passwords for your computer. Twelve weeks is likely the longest you’ve been out of work in your professional career, so give yourself some time to adjust. And, not to mention, you’ll be missing your new baby.
- Work out childcare in advance. Leaving for work the first morning back will be easier and more seamless if you have details of childcare worked out well in advance. You’ll probably still be scrambling around to find clothes that fit (that’s a whole other blog post), so allow yourself some extra time. Have your babysitter come shadow you or go meet the daycare teachers in the last weeks of maternity leave. Do one or two practice runs of how long it will take you and your baby to get out of the house in the morning — it may surprise you how much longer you’ll need, but at least you’ll know in advance.
- Recognize your value at work. Recognize that your employer is lucky to have you back in the office. According to the Harvard Business Review, 43% of women leave the workforce after having a child. That’s almost half! Your employer has retained a great employee in you, on top of not having to recruit, hire and train a new employee if you had decided to step out of work to take care of your child for a few years. Remember that when your skills are a bit rusty.
- You’ll be more focused. Maybe this is just a guess, but I feel that I’ll be even more plugged in, present and dedicated now that I’m back at work. If you’re in the office, do your work, focus on getting assignments and projects completed so when you go home, you’re fully at home. Stay mindful during your 9–5 so you can cuddle baby when you get home at night.
- Multitasking will be a breeze. While you probably feel like your maternity leave has been a blur, you really were picking up multitasking skills. I know, for me, the logistics of just trying to leave the house for the first time with an infant by myself seemed on par with those required for Delta Air Lines’ Atlanta hub. Those skills are not for naught and will help you be an even better employee in the long run.
Hopefully you’ve found this helpful! Now, brush off your first trimester clothes (you’re probably still in them and that’s OKAY!) grab a warm cup of coffee (!!!) and head to the office — but not without an adorably staged framed photo of your new bundle of joy for your desk.