Returning to Work After Maternity Leaveby Teresa Shaw | February 11, 2008
The amount of maternity leave new moms take differs from company to company and state to state, but one thing is for sure: it's difficult when it ends. While your leave may have been less than restful, it is still difficult to think of returning to work.
There are a few steps you can take to make the transition easier. Before you return to work, consider these ideas to make returning to work easier on not only you, but your family as well.Plan Ahead
There are a number of things you can do to plan ahead for your return. Start stocking the freezer as soon as you can. Remember those casseroles you received upon your baby's birth? If you happened to put a few in the freezer then, they'll make great, quick dinners on work nights. When you prepare dinner for your family, consider making double or triple batches, or preparing several meals at once that freeze well, such as stews and soups, casseroles, and pot pies. Once you return to work, you won't want to spend a minute longer than you have to in the kitchen making dinner.
If you haven't already, be sure to set up the day care you'll be using for your child. Ask friends and neighbors for referrals and call around. Be sure to pop in on the day care as well—an unannounced visit will give you more of a true picture of the everyday happenings at the facility.
If you are breast feeding, think about whether you want to continue upon returning to work. Do you plan to nurse in the evenings only, and give baby a bottle during the day? Or will you pump breast milk a few times during the day and use that to feed baby when you're not around? If you decide to pump, be sure to try it out while you're still on maternity leave to make sure you are familiar and comfortable with the process. Also, talk to your employer about locating a private, comfortable place to pump.Try it on
Try on your work clothes a week or two before you are scheduled to return to work. Don't be surprised if your pre-pregnancy clothes don't fit—many women still wear some of their maternity clothes a few months after giving birth. Try on your clothes early enough so that you have time to buy a few new pieces if you need to.Start Small
If you plan to return to work full time after your maternity leave, consider starting small: a week or two before you return, try spending a little time out of the house and away from baby. Gradually transitioning into longer periods away might help ease both you and your baby into the new routine.
Also consider returning on a part-time basis. It might be an easier adjustment to start off working half days, or just a few days a week, and gradually working back up to full time.Start a Tradition
Start a mom-and-baby tradition or routine now that you can enjoy regularly. Make bath time a time the two of you bond, or read a special book at bedtime. Make it something that just the two of you share together.
Leaving baby and returning to work is no easy decision. However, with a little advanced planning, you can make the transition a little easier for everyone.Teresa Shaw is a professional editor and freelance writer with a degree in English and journalism. She writes about motherhood, travel, and cooking, among other topics, for a variety of print and online markets. She enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter, two cats, and dog.
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