The time has come.
You've spent precious moments with your bundle of joy but like many situations in life, this, too, must come to an end.
And as much as you'd like to stay at home just a little while longer, there are bills to pay and mouths to feed.
A return to work after having a baby can be one of the most stressful and emotional times for moms. After carrying your child for nine months, giving birth then being so closely attached to your baby during this special period, the thought of leaving him or her can cause feelings of both sadness and stress. As well, many moms feel guilty about having to make this decision, which often doesn't make things easier.
Before going back to the outside workforce, you likely have a number of questions swirling through your mind, often with no clear answers. Some of these likely include:
- Who's going to take care of the baby while I'm at work?
- How much is childcare going to cost?
- Is my baby going to be okay in the care of someone other than me?
- How am I going to balance work, home and family responsibilities?
All of these questions are valid and normal, as well as important to be answered for both the parent and the child's well-being.
Rest assured that you will be fine, and so will your child.
That being said,there are a few things to keep in mind and to have in place before you re-enter the workplace. Follow these simple tips and you and your little one will be ready for your return to work:
Back to Work After Baby - Top 8 Tips For Moms
1) Eliminate Guilty Feelings - Before anything, remember: you are doing this in the best interest of your baby and your family. While it's natural to feel guilty, keep in mind that your return to work is going to allow you to provide your baby with the things that he or she needs, as well as to bring in needed finances to your household. While it may be difficult at first and you may feel guilt as well as a fear of separation anxiety, know that your actions are what's best for your family, and will ultimately make a positive difference in the quality of life for all of you.
2) Decide on Breast or Bottle - Regardless of your choice, make provisions for how your child will be fed while you're away. If you're going to continue breastfeeding, make sure that you've made provisions accordingly. This may include either freezing your milk and/or making sure that you have a place to pump when you return to work, as well as a supportive work environment and employer who will accommodate your choice. If you're going to choose formula, make sure to test the options so that you're feeling comfortable with the right choice that your baby will drink when you're at work. You may also want to consider a combination of both, so investigate your options to assure that everything's in place when you go back to work.
3) Don't Try To Do Everything - There are only 24 hours in a day and you're now going to be working outside the home. For these reasons, make a realistic schedule about what you can and can't get done, and stick to it. Part of your personal sanity will be directly related to knowing that you've done everything you can, and everything else will have to wait. You're doing what needs to be done for your family - working and taking care of your child - and that's enough.
4) Get Supports in Place At Home - Whether it's from your partner, friends, neighbours or relatives, knowing that you've got things covered off at home will provide you with a huge feeling of relief as you return to the workforce. Help could range anywhere from childcare arrangements for your baby (see below for more details) to more specific help with cooking, cleaning and other household chores. The goal is to make things as stress-free as possible for you as you return to work so take help wherever you can.
5) Line Up Childcare Arrangements - Depending on where you live, childcare can be one of the biggest decisions to make, both from a financial and emotional point of view. In many urban centres, you may need to have lined up childcare for your baby as soon as you became pregnant; in others, there is more flexibility in terms timing and the choice of caregiver. In both instances, it's important that you (and your partner) are comfortable with the final decision so that when you leave for work, you are also confident that you're leaving your precious baby in competent and loving hands. Take the time to thoroughly research and check out your options before making this important decision. As well, do a "dry run" with your care provider a few weeks leading up to your return so that your baby, your caregiver and you are comfortable about leaving your child in care as you return to work.
6) Lower Your Expectations - There are only 24 hours in a day and you'll be working through many of them. For this reason, it's important to be realistic about what can conceivably achieved during the work week and the weekends as well. Now that you're back at work, the house may not be as spic and span as you may like, and laundry may remain unfolded for a time. This is okay. There's only so much you can do. If you're able to, engage your partner to help out more, or, if finances allow, hire someone to assist with cleaning and other household chores. If this is not possible, lower your expectations of what can realistically be done in the home and focus on the fact that you're doing the most important thing - taking care of your family by returning to work.
7) Be Clear on Work Responsibilities - This includes hours of employment, flexibility in scheduling if possible, and day-to-day duties. Ideally, it's best to speak to your boss or supervisor before you set foot in the office or workplace so that you both have a clear understanding and agreement about what is expected when you return. When you're both on the same page, things will run more smoothly and there will be no surprises - which are the last thing you need now that you're back at work.
8) Get an Ally or Good Friend at Work - The return to work will be made less stressful if you know that there's someone there that you can count on for support and a friendly ear. Ideally, it would be someone who can understand and empathize with the demands of being a working parent and in an ideal scenario, it may even be your boss. Either way, knowing that you have someone in the workplace that you can speak to about your transition back to work and its inherent challenges can make a world of difference to your state of mind.
The return to the paid workforce can seem daunting after time off for maternity leave, but with a bit of planning and supports in place, going back to work and balancing family life can be done.
This article can also be found at www.multiplemayhemmamma.com
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