Back to Work After Baby: 10 Essential Tips for New Working Parents
A three-month parental leave might’ve have sounded like an eternity…before your baby arrived. But those first few months can zip by in a blur of joy (and, let’s be frank, sleep deprivation)—and then, just when you feel like you might be getting into some sort of rhythm…boom!
It’s time to go back to work.
You might really like being back at the office—adult conversations, wearing grown-up clothes, leaving the house—but the return can also bring up big feelings. Heading back to work and leaving your sweet pea in someone else’s care can be really hard, and it can take a while to get used to it.
Don’t worry (too much). We’ve got you covered with these 10 essential tips to help make your first weeks back at work go smoothly.
1. Do a practice child care day.
2. Practice taking care of you.
Take a little time—perhaps while your little one is at her practice child care day—to get yourself excited about returning to work. Maybe you want to get your professional game face back on by having your hair cut or your nails done—head to the salon for some much needed TLC! Or maybe you’re excited to get back to the intellectual challenges and camaraderie of the office— grab coffee with a colleague and get the scoop on what you’ve missed. Do what’s best for you!
3. Hack your schedule.
Consider going back to work on a Thursday, rather than a Monday. Here’s why: It gives you two days to “ease back in” to work, with the weekend break right around the corner. If you can, talk to your boss about working reduced hours for the first few weeks while you and your family figure out this whole working-parent thing.
4. Enjoy each other.
Make the most of your time with your little treasure: Put away your cell phone and ignore after-hours work emails while you’re at home and she’s awake. Focus on being present with her in the moment rather than feeling guilty that you’ve been gone. Cuddle while you feed her, stare into her eyes, goo-goo and gaa-gaa, giggle, and enjoy every evening filled with the bath/book/bed routine.
5. Breast feeding?
Pumping at work is a whole other ball game—and we’ve got advice from an expert to help you feel confident and be prepared. Check it out here.
6. Put yourself to bed.
Sleep is an essential part of being healthy, happy, and able to function. If the apple of your eye is still waking up once, twice, or three times a night, finding a way to get a reasonable amount of sleep is key. Some moms go to bed when the baby does (yes, really), while other parents trade off middle-of-the-night-duties. Have trouble sleeping soundly? Add some calming yoga to your nightly routine. Don’t worry: Your baby will grow out of his nightly wake-ups (eventually) and then you can go back to binge-watching The Voice until 10:00 p.m. like a real grown-up—woot!
7. Enlist help.
Juggling work and parenting can be, well, a lot—so don’t do it all yourself. Instead, resolve to make it a team effort: Recruit your partner to help pack lunches, do dishes, or get the baby bag ready for the next day. (Pumping? Ask him to wash and dry all those pump parts.) Meal trains are popular after the birth of a baby, but NOW might be the time when you truly need generous friends drop off dinner during the week. Consider hiring a house cleaning service for a few months—so that the house is vacuumed and the bathroom clean—leaving you just a little more time to get the hang of the new routine.
8. Make some (more) parent friends.
Find moms or dads who are going through the same transition that you are. Why? Sharing sleep woes, sweet (and sometimes frustrating) parenting tales, and adorable baby photos will keep you from feeling alone during this period of big change.
9. Stay connected with your baby during the day.
After spending most of the last three months with your little one, it can be hard being apart all day. Don’t fret—give your care provider a call to see how your infant is doing—we’re always happy to hear from parents! Get creative to feel close to your little cutie: Cover your work space with pictures of your beautiful baby or spend your lunch break scrolling through adorable photos on your phone.
10. Give yourself time (and a break).
Allow yourself to feel what you feel. It’s okay to miss her. It’s okay to worry. And yes, it’s okay to love returning to work, too. Again, this is a big transition—it’ll take a little time, but you will get the hang of it and find what works best for your family!