Congratulations on your new baby… and now the time has come for another big adjustment. You’re going back to work. You may be feeling a variety (and mixture!) of emotions… anxiety, relief, disappointment, guilt, eagerness, anticipation, and/or sadness.
No matter which emotions are most prominent right now, you’re preparing yourself for the big change. Here are a few practical and emotional tips to help you get this new season off to a good start:
- Start communications with your childcare provider as soon as possible. You might be using a daycare center or in-home daycare. You might be relying on a grandparent or friend. Regardless of your childcare choice, you want to foster good communication from the start. Bring in some cookies as a gesture of getting things off on the right foot. Ask questions about what kind of communication works best (will they text you pictures during the day? If you have a question or a concern, how do they prefer to receive that?)
- Do a dry run. Ask if you could drop your baby off for just a few hours the week before you go back to work. If possible, try to time your drop-off at the same time you will plan to do so from now on, so you can see how it feels to get everyone in the car, dropped off, and drive toward the office. But then use that time for some self-care (get a haircut, run an errand, get some exercise) before you pick baby up.
- Make lists. There will be lots of things to remember in your first few days of adjusting back to work, so sit down and list it out. What will you need in your daycare bag? What will you need in your work bag? If your childcare situation allows, keep supplies like diapers, extra clothes, extra bottles at the location so you don’t have to remember those daily.
- Validate all the emotions. If you have enjoyed your maternity leave, you may feel a sense of grief that it’s over. If you have spent most of it feeling depressed or isolated, you might find yourself craving your old routine around other people. Whatever it is, stop judging yourself for feeling that way.
- Allow yourself time to adjust. Set realistic expectations for yourself during this adjustment. This change will likely take some time to get used to. Don’t expect yourself to get there overnight; be gentle with yourself and be okay with it taking a few weeks or months to get into a new routine.
- Treat yourself. If you think you might have a difficult separation the first day you drop your baby off, plan a few extra minutes to stop for your favorite coffee, or to listen to some upbeat music on your commute to work.
- Lean on your supports. If you are feeling anxious or upset, talk about it with a trusted friend or family member. Counseling is also especially helpful for this transition to give you a place to talk through all of your emotions, develop skills for coping with anxiety or feeling overwhelmed, and to normalize how this change is impacting you.
You can do this! If you want to add to your support system during this time, I’d love to walk alongside you. Feel free to contact me for an intake session and let me know how I can help.