How to prepare for life after maternity leave
In the early days of maternity leave it seemed like I had an infinite amount of time to enjoy at home with my new baby but now that the year has come to a close I find myself scrambling to prepare. I’m nervous, anxious, and worry about not being able to spend so much time with my son.
Prepare for childcare early
While you’re pregnant think about what type of childcare you want to have for your baby when you return to work. They aren’t kidding about the long wait lists. Add your name for local daycare facilities that are convenient for your commute in to work. Whoever is going to look after your little one make sure they are qualified, reliable, and trustworthy.
Work out a gradual return to work schedule
In the months leading up to your return to work meet with your boss to see if you can work out a gradual return to work schedule. You, your baby, and your family will benefit from having time to adjust. Whether its part time days for the first week or two or working up to a fulltime schedule, it’s worth checking to see what options are available. I was lucky enough to have leftover accrued vacation time so, with the support of my boss and HR, I worked out a schedule that worked for me and my family.
Familiarize you baby with her new caretaker
If you are having someone new look after your baby try to have them over to your house or visit the place where your baby will be for the day. This allows your baby to get familiar with his or her new caretaker and surroundings. This also allows baby to see that you trust the caretaker.
Practice being away from your baby
I know how hard this one may sound. How can you purposely spend time away from your little tot when soon you’ll see so much less of him or her? As hard as this one is for me to swallow I do think it’s necessary for both mom and baby. Practice being away for a few hours and build up to a full day. If possible, have the caretaker look after your baby while you’re away. Use this away time to focus on yourself. Shop for some new work clothes; get a manicure and pedicure, a new haircut, or go for a massage! You’ve focused so much on you baby it’s time you give yourself some TLC too.
Do a workday practice run
If you’re like me, you’ve already run through in your mind a hundred times over what the schedule will be like. It may seem doable in your mind but try to give it a proper rehearsal. You may find some areas that you need to tweak.
Your night routine is just as important as your morning routine
Don’t limit yourself to only thinking of how the mornings will go. When you get home at night there will be lots to do as well and what you do during this time can really set the tone for the next day. Use part of your evening home to prepare lunches and snacks for everyone, prepare your outfit for the next day, pack your baby’s bag with diapers, extra clothes and shoes, etc. This will help make your mornings go a lot smoother and reduce any anxiety you or your family may be feeling.
Plan for your commute to and from work
If you take public transit check the schedules as they might have changed. Have a target departure and an ‘in case of emergency’ departure. Aka, little tot spilled your morning tea all over you or he decided he didn’t want to wear pants for the day. Whatever it is, make sure you’ve got a backup schedule.
Meet with your boss in advance of your return
Your role or job may have changed quite a bit since you left. It’s a good idea to get in touch with your boss to get a better understanding of what you’re coming back to to reduce any surprises and to get you more mentally prepared.
Breathe and take it all in stride
Try not to get yourself worked up and over anxious. Yes, your day to day will be quite different as will your baby’s and it will take some time getting used to. Your boss and the people you work with understand this as many of them have been there as well. Family comes first.
If you have any tips on returning to work after mat leave post them in the comments!