Being a first time parent comes with so many new challenges, but for me being a new mom fit really well. I’m not going to say that it was always easy, but we were blessed with a babe with a pretty good disposition and motherhood came easily to me (while some folks aren’t so lucky).
But returning to work? And the new routines of the working mom? THAT was my clincher.
Before having my baby, I thought I would want to return to work about 8 weeks after delivery. So many things change once the little one is out in the world. First, my time went SO fast that 8 weeks came and went in what seemed like a blink of an eye.
Suddenly 8 weeks was not enough time at home with my little one. I felt social pressure to return to work and be the woman who could do it all, and be the woman who wouldn’t ‘sacrifice’ her career by being a mom. I felt financial pressure to return to work too, not wanting to take a lot of unpaid time off and stress my partner. I felt guilty for leaving my baby at what felt like such a young age.
I ended up returning after 10 weeks. When I did return to work, I was very distracted and at the same time overwhelmed by all the projects awaiting me.
More overwhelming was all the extra prep work I had to do so that I could go to work. I felt like I was drowning in ‘to do’ lists and felt like I wasn’t able to spend quality time with my baby for the few short hours with him I had after work.
At work, I felt completely out of the loop in terms of all the happenings I missed while out, and since I work in the sciences I felt I was missing out. What really helped me was having family care for my babe my first week back in combination with some work from home days. After all, a 10 week old still naps quite a bit and it was realistic for me to actually get work done.
I also happened to return before the Christmas and New Year holiday and my work has the wonderful benefit of closing the week between the two holidays. Going back to work then having another break right after was great.
This transition really helped me emotionally at work and I did WAY better than I thought I would. I told a few close coworkers not to be surprised if i got teary eyed or even cried my first week back. To my delight I did not do either. I was confident in the care my babe was getting and that helped a lot too.
So, if you can arrange to return part time to start or at least start your first week mid-week, do it! If family can watch your little one, let them help!
What helped you transition back to work? Let me know!