As I was stepping out the door to commute on my first day back at work after maternity leave, I joked with my husband, “I don’t think I should be operating heavy machinery.” Much like the disclaimers at the end of a sleeping pill ad, I was so sleep deprived, hormonal, and carrying around new purse full of mom-guilt that I’m surprised I could operate a moving vehicle. (Although, I have to admit I was pretty happy to have an arm free to at least hold a purse.)
I lovingly refer to this phase of my life as the “Hot Mess” phase. I made all the classic mistakes moms make when going back to work. In my new mommy haze, I thought maximizing time with my infant girl meant not being away for more than an hour or two while on leave. In fact, going cold turkey did not allow her or me to learn the skill of “mommy always comes back.” As I was doing the ugly cry on the freeway on my second day back, I vowed to help moms through this emotional transition.
The narrow maternity leave window is painfully short for most of us. Having a plan will not only help relieve the guilt, but it will also set you up for a peaceful transition. Your plan should include the “3 B’s of going back to work.” Prepare your Baby, your Boss and your Brain to successfully return. And then check out our maternity leave checklist for more help.
Preparing your baby
Helping baby through the change of fulltime baby bonding to fulltime childcare is a big one that requires planning, patience, communication and rallying your tribe. So when it comes to preparing for childcare, here’s how you can plan it out.
Preparing for childcare:
Preparing your boss. Despite what you think, your coworkers have NO clue how you have fundamentally changed over leave. And most likely your boss is not equipped to deal with the emotional side. So be sure to cover the following with him or her before you go back:
Preparing your brain:
Going back to work after maternity leave requires a solid plan, where you prepare yourself, your boss and baby for this new phase of your lives. Surround yourself with a supportive tribe will help you navigate the emotional ups and downs. You can do it mama!
Elaine is a Working Mom Support Coach on a mission de-stress maternity leave and propel a nation of thriving working mothers. From her own emotionally traumatic return-to-work after her first daughter (HOT MESS!), ThriveMomma.com was born. She coaches new moms on of return-to-work readiness, time management and mindful living. And consults for corporations on paternity transition planning and work/life policies to retain and nurture working parents.
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