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Back to Work After Baby? Infant Teachers Share Tips to Make the Transition Easier

teacher children smiling
Photo by David Hume Kennerly

Just when you were getting the hang of having a baby, it’s time to go back to work. Besides the expected changes (picking your tasks back up, catching up on all the office gossip you’ve missed), your priorities have shifted now that you’re a parent. Lunch breaks might turn into pumping time, while happy hours look more like heading out early to pick up the baby. 

It’s normal to feel anxious about making the transition back to work, but just know that you don’t have to do it all yourself. Besides your built-in support system of friends and family, you’ll also have a team at your child’s new daycare to help you through your big transition.

We talked to some new-baby experts—KinderCare infant teachers—to ask how you can make your transition back to work as seamless as possible. Here are some of their tips.

1. A daycare near work helps the transition—a lot.

Your first instinct might be to choose a daycare that’s close to home. After all, anything longer than a 10-minute drive can feel pretty overwhelming with a new baby along for the ride.

But a few short weeks or months from now when you go back to work, you might appreciate having your baby nearby for lunch breaks—whether you want to breastfeed or just get some midday snuggles.

Regina Campisi, a KinderCare infant teacher in Beachwood, Ohio, says that she has parents visit all the time. “We have an open door policy,” Campisi says. “Come in during your lunch break, feed your baby, have lunch with us, and get to know your teachers. Be a part of their educational process. It’s important to bridge that gap between work and school.”

Megan Martina, a KinderCare infant teacher in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, enjoys her one-on-one time with parents who come in during the day. “We have a few moms who come to breastfeed,” Martina says. “I have one parent who comes every day around noon. You really get to know them.”

And no matter where your daycare is located, make sure it’s on your way to work. Having a short commute will make life a whole lot easier in the weeks and months ahead.

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2. Doing a test-run can make all the difference.

If you thought your old morning routine was hectic, adding a new baby to the mix can be downright chaotic.

That’s why Campisi recommends taking half an hour to stop by your baby’s new daycare the week before you go back to work. “The transition can be really overwhelming for new parents,” Campisi says. “The Friday before, bring everything your baby needs. See where your baby’s going to sleep, meet your teachers, and do your paperwork.”

Another great time-saver? Lay out your outfit the night before and pack your lunch ahead of time so you don’t need to worry about it in the morning (and you have time to deal with any unexpected diaper changes). Your future self will thank you!

3. Decide what kind of communication you want during the workday.

Imagine this: You’re in your most important meeting of the day when you feel your phone buzzing in your pocket. You sneak a glance and see that it’s your child’s daycare. Your heart starts racing. Maybe they’re just calling to check in…but what if something’s wrong?

You don’t want to have to ask yourself that question, especially when you’re in the middle of your workday.

That’s why Campisi asks parents (especially new parents) how they would like to be contacted and how often. “A lot of parents get anxious when they see our number pop up on their phone when they’re at work,” Campisi says. “And in those cases, sometimes email is better. That’s why I always ask.”

Your baby’s daycare should ask what kind of communication works best for you during the workday. But if they don’t initiate that conversation, make sure to set clear expectations. Maybe you want updates throughout the day, or maybe you only want to be contacted if your baby isn’t feeling well and needs to go home. Both are completely okay!

4. Make sure you feel great about the place you’re leaving your baby.

You know your baby best. No matter what, never second-guess yourself or what you need. Your daycare should always be willing to work with you to answer your questions and create a great experience for you and your baby.

Campisi recommends visiting your daycare multiple times: at least once before and once after your baby is born. “Before you have your baby, you’re going to have all these questions,” Campisi says. “After you have your baby, you’re going to have different questions. You’re going to want to show what your baby needs.”

“We want to be somewhere you like to be. You should feel like we’ve known you and your kids forever,” Martina says. “I had a younger couple just come in. First-time parents. The mom came in to visit and asked, ‘Are you sure it’s okay?’ I said, ‘You are fine. I will always find a way to talk to you. You can always visit, always call.’”

Above all else, you deserve to feel completely at ease when your baby is at daycare. If you feel comfortable and safe, and know that your baby is in the right hands, it will make going back to work so much easier.

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5. Taking care of yourself is the best thing you can do for your baby.

New parent burnout is real. When you’re on leave, sleepless nights are one thing. But once you have to get up at a certain time for work and get your baby ready for daycare, you’ll be operating on a whole new level of sleep deprivation.

That’s where self-care comes in. And it’s so, so important.

“Going back to work is a very fast-paced time for working moms,” Martina says. “That’s why it’s important to rest. Take care of yourself. Make sure you’re eating and you have someone to help you.”

“I always say, ‘Don’t pour from an empty cup,’” Campisi says. “If you have a day off, let me take care of your baby. Go to the grocery store. Go take a long shower. Go do something for you. Take your lunch break. Get a new book. Go outside.”

Whatever self-care means to you, make sure you’re taking advantage of your support network to take time for yourself. When you feel rested and energized, you can be the absolute best version of yourself, both for work and your new baby.

Going back to work after having a baby is a huge step to take, but you’ve got this. “I’ve seen so many families go through the exact same thing,” Martina says. “It’s always hard at first, but everything is going to be okay.”

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