The guilt of returning to your career can make any new mother rethink the idea of coming back to work. Although, for many American families, the idea of just one working parent has become less possible than ever before. A 2016 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics survey revealed that 61.1% of all married couples with children are two-parent employed families. This shows there is an increase in the number of working mothers entering the labor force. Because of this, it’s important for new mothers to learn to balance their lives and careers.
Although it can be hard to spend many hours away from your newborn, it is possible to manage it. Many other great women have successfully adjusted to new lives as working mothers. It’s important to have an established plan, as this helps your family and employer prepare for your return.
Throughout your leave, identify a co-worker or supervisor to remain in contact with you. This person will be able to keep you up to date on anything that you miss while you’re away so you’ll be up to speed when you return. Once you have a set date for your return, contact the HR department, and make sure that they are aware of your return and that anything they need to do on their end is complete.
Ask your employer to sit down with you, either a week ahead of your return or during your first week back. Grab a coffee with them and lay out a plan for your new workflow. If there is any time you won’t be able to work or if your doctor has set limitations, let them know about these changes. This way they can make the necessary adjustments. Let them know that your mind will be fully back in the workplace. It’s important that they know you are ready for this return and won’t lose focus.
Set up childcare for your newborn well in advance. You’ll want to become familiar with the daycare or childminder watching your child. Provide them with a schedule of times when you are unable to be reached during the workday. Also, give them an emergency contact to call during those times should anything arise. Provide an email address or phone number to send pictures to throughout the day. This will help put your mind at ease and you’ll be confident knowing your child is in great hands.
When you’re returning to work it’s nice to come back to the office in your best state of mind. This means looking and feeling your best. Do you have professional clothes that still fit well? If not, buy a few versatile new pieces that work as few outfits so that you don’t break the bank. And something as simple as a new haircut can have you feeling refreshed and ready to go.
Ensure that you’re prepared for any needs that you will have at work as a new mother. If you need to pump throughout the day, ask your HR department if there is a private room for you to do so. A comfortable nursing bra you can wear under your work clothes can also make this process easier. If your office is close by, consider leaving on your break to feed and bond with your baby. Although, this should only be an option if your employer is comfortable with you doing so.
Bring a few pictures of your new baby and your significant other for your desk. This will remind you what you’re working for and give you something to smile about when you’re having a rough day. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love showing pictures of their children off to their co-workers anyways.
Don’t be too full of pride to ask for help. We understand this process can be difficult. There’s a strong possibility that someone in your office has been through this before. Start a support group with other moms in your office—they’re great to have when you need a shoulder to lean on or someone to laugh with over coffee. Taking care of yourself when you’re feeling stressed will keep you feeling your best. Go to a yoga class, take a day to go to the spa, or find a friend or relative who can help you with your long to-do list. Know that everyone is here to support you and help you through the process.