Returning to work with a newborn at home isn’t easy.
In fact, it can be soul crushing. Going back because you have to and not because you want to is so stressful, I know. I went back to work just 12 weeks postpartum, as the sole breadwinner in my household. And many people go back even sooner! It’s no wonder so many of us need help preparing for the end of maternity leave and the dreaded return to work.
I don’t use that term sarcastically. The dread is real, but finding the right coping mechanism is the key to cutting back on those negative feelings. Because let’s face it, those feelings aren’t helping anyone. They’re driving you nuts and affecting the time you do get to spend with your little one. Whether your babe is 6 weeks or 6 months, this is how to deal with that overwhelming uneasiness.
Find a supportive group of moms who have BEEN THERE
Luckily, we are not alone in this! There are so many moms in the same position. It sucks, and we get it. My favorite communities have been on facebook, my blog, and reddit, but I grew close with moms from work too.
I noticed a lot of veteran moms were less compassionate than I hoped, because they already had enough coping skills in place. But us new mamas need others to whine with. It helps!
Subscribe to stay in touch with me and make me your sounding board! I know how it feels, believe me! (I started a blog about it!)
Do a practice run
This is always mentioned on a “return to work” list, and I hate it. Only because it leaves the impression that you should do a faked work-day routine with baby.
Instead, on my version of a practice run, I suggest just leaving the baby at home (with dad or another person, obviously) for 4-6 hours. I suggest this approach because dropping your baby off at daycare creates AN ADDITIONAL FIRST DAY FOR MOM! No thanks!
One is enough. Since it’s harder on you, Mom, spare yourself the double dose of heartache. Baby will adjust regardless of whether you’re actually going to work or not. But use this practice run to treat yo’self!
Buy some new work necessities
New clothes, new shoes, new pens, whatever makes you excited to go back! Do it alone and try to enjoy regaining a little bit of your pre-baby self.
I think the best part of going back to work is the independence, and this gives you a little taste of what it will be like to take care of YOU again.
Build your case for an FWA
“FWA” being Flexible Work Arrangement. The first step is to simply mention your desire to ease back into work, and you can casually suggest a flexible work arrangement. Whether or not you really think you want one, bringing it up to your employer is a professional way to shed light on your fears.
Additionally, you can refer to HR or an employee handbook for information on what is allowed and what is required to pursue flexible scheduling.
BUT… If you really, totally, gotta have a flexible role, start shopping for one. If the dread is all-encompassing, then you may just need to find a new job at home.
Give it a try
I know you’re absolutely dreading it, but it can be done. You might just impress yourself. But go for it, and give yourself goals. I went back miserable and depressed, but I told myself I would give it a week. And after that, I set my goal to a month. Then three. Then six.
Since you need to be working, and since now isn’t the best time to start a new job, it’s worth a shot. Give it a try, make small goals, and know that you have a support group to lean on when weird stuff goes down.
Plot your escape
When all else fails, find a way out. Life is too short to make yourself miserable everyday. That is how I felt, and I created a new path that got me where I knew I wanted to be: at home.
Even if working full-time from home isn’t your dream scenario, you can begin figuring out how to get to the one you want! Put your fear and anxiety to work by thinking long and hard about what you really want to be doing, and how you’re going to get there.
I went through all of these, and I can honestly say they helped me stay happy and healthy for my baby girl. And now I get to work from home with my little love by my side, but that wasn’t always the case.
Intentionally cutting out negativity and working towards what works is the best coping mechanism you can develop. Dreading the return to work is only an opportunity for you to take care of yourself and find a way to make your job work for you.
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