Transitioning Back Into Your Work Zone from Maternity Leave

For any new mother that has chosen to return to work after their maternity leave is over, the transition can often be difficult. Feelings of guilt often arise and the pressure of having everything ready causes a lot of unnecessary stress. Adjusting to life as a new mom can be a big life change as is, but throwing a career into the mix, only adds more emotions into the situation.

If you are a new mother getting ready for your career return whether that’s in an office setting, working from home or from your own business, you most likely understand what we’re saying. You’ve quickly gone from spending 100% of your time with your new child to suddenly shifting your focus to your career. This can often make any new mother have strong feelings of guilt. Coping with these emotions is the most important key to success in your balance of work and motherhood.

With a high rise in the number of mothers choosing to work full-time, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Many women have succeeded in making the balance work before you, and you will too. By creating a plan ahead of time, the transition will be easier for both you and your newborn.

1. Establish a New Routine

The most important part of planning your routine is making sure that you have a comprehensive plan in place. Write everything down and be sure to plan this with your significant other and other involved members.

  • Prepare your outfit and meals for you and your child the night before to give you more time in the morning.
  • Create a to-do list of tasks to complete before you go back. What will need to be taken care of around the house? If you’ll be working from home do you need to establish a quiet office space to work in?
  • Set up your childcare provider whether that’s finding a nanny or daycare center. If you choose a nanny, check their references and go with your gut instinct if something feels off. Even if your work is remote, it’s helpful to have someone who can help out when you need to call into a meeting or run out to meet a client.
  • Create a communal family calendar where you and your significant other can write down all work-related items, events, and family to-do items to keep everyone organized.
  • Get plenty of rest to be at your peak performance at work and as a mother. Your morning routine should be smooth, not chaotic. Practice doing a dry run of getting ready and driving your morning commute (if you have one). You’ll be less stressed and more confident the first week.

2. Refocus on Your Career

As your return date grows nearer, creating a game plan for this return becomes important to maintaining your work-life balance. Stay in occasional contact with other staff members or your clients throughout your maternity leave. This will help to ensure that you are up to date on anything that happens while you are away.

  • Sit down and plan out any necessary adjustments needed in your work hours because of childcare or limitations you may have.
  • If someone has stepped in to fill your position or help keep your business up and running, create a transition plan with them. Expect that it won’t be as simple as handing the keys back over. It often takes a few weeks to fully integrate back into your workload.
  • When working from home, it helps to plan on getting your work that takes a lot of focus done during times when you’ll be least distracted. Also, avoid tasks that will be time wasters and rather prioritize on maximizing the time you do have available.
  • If you’re returning to an office setting, you may need to complete tasks such as filling out paperwork and designating a private spot to pump in. Make sure tasks such as these are taken care of with your employer ahead of time.

3. Take Care of Yourself

After several weeks of wearing loungewear and casual clothes, it’s time to start thinking about wearing professional attire again. Even if you’re lucky enough to still wear comfortable clothes from your home office, having a few professional options are helpful for impromptu client or business meetings. For most new mothers, these clothes may not fit the same way that they once used to. You’ll want to look and feel your best during this time, so make sure to put the effort into taking care of yourself. Self-care is one of the most important steps in maintaining your sanity.

  • Buy a few staple items for your wardrobe such as well fitted dress pants and blouses that are easy to put on in the morning and versatile. Also, purchase a simple nursing bra that you’ll feel confident wearing under your work clothes and will be convenient for hectic feeding times.
  • Get a refreshing haircut that will be both stylish and low-maintenance.
  • Treat yourself to a manicure or a facial.
  • Continue your hobbies that you once enjoyed before having a child. Finding time for these can recharge your energy.

4. Ask For Help

Many mothers want to feel like they can do it all. It’s a basic human instinct to feel this way. To be your best self at work, at home, and in life is almost impossible. Everyone makes mistakes and has bad days. They’re a part of life. In those moments, you’ll need someone to lean on. Let go of your pride and ask for help.

  • Find other mothers in your office or other mompreneurs who you can lean on for support. They’ll be able to give you advice for balancing life and work. It’s also nice to have someone to grab lunch with or take a yoga class with when you need time for yourself to unwind.
  • Ask a family member or friend if they can come over on a Saturday for a few hours while you get a few chores done.
  • Find the best ways for you to relieve stress and start getting into a self-care routine that will benefit you in feeling like your best self.

5. Have a Backup Plan in Place

It’s hard to know what every day will look like not only in terms of work but at home also. Some days are just unpredictable. It’s crucial to make sure that you have a backup plan in place for any situation that may arise.

  • Have an emergency contact that your nanny or daycare can reach if your child needs something while you’re stuck in a meeting or unable to step away from work. They can also be your assigned contact for when you have a time conflicting overlap with your significant other.
  • Work out a plan for days when you may need to call in or leave early for your child. Who will take care of your tasks for that day? Can they still reach you on these days?

Don’t let the guilt of working keep you up at night. You’re likely to experience a lot of emotions in this time as it can be a large adjustment. Know that many mothers around the world have managed to successfully make this transition and you will too. Don’t rush into the process and have a support system in place.