Ah, maternity leave, you are the most wonderful, amazing thing. But like all good things, eventually it comes to an end for those mommies out there working. The single hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was leave my babies for work. I so badly wanted to just stay home with them, but I need money for the babies and that means I need to work! And to be honest, it’s kind of awesome to be a working mom, too, because you get your alone time and you are accomplishing amazing things! Regardless though, sometimes the transition from maternity leave to working mom can be rough. With my first, it was the hardest thing I ever did, I cried every morning and hated every second of it, but this time I was determined that it would be different! It was still hard emotionally, but I found some really great things that helped me get through it and I wanted to share those tips that I found made the transition easier.
1- Wake up an hour earlier
Yes, it sucks. Yes, it’s hard. And some mornings, you’ll just REALLY need that hour of sleep, but getting up an hour earlier has made it SO much easier for me as a working mom because I feel like I get that extra little bit of time with my baby to just cuddle and play with her.
2- Find at least one thing that makes you excited about work every day
Sometimes this can be hard, especially if you have a long day full of hard things ahead of you, but find something to be excited about. Maybe you have some treats stashed in your desk that you’ll allow yourself to have, or maybe you have a book you’re really into that you read when you’re on break. It is a lot easier to get through the day with a positive attitude when you’re looking forward to or excited about something, and attitude is really EVERYTHING.
3- Take pictures and videos of your baby to have with you
Sometimes when you just need to see their sweet little face, it is SO helpful to have some cute photos on your phone to look at and remind you of them. It seems like a no-brainer probably, but it has REALLY helped me this time around. It’s especially helpful if you are breastfeeding and needing to pump at work because you can look at the photos and it can help your milk let down. I swear it works, it’s weird how psychological breastfeeding is!
4- Separate work life and home life
When you are at work, you’re at work. When you’re at home, you’re at home. Physically and emotionally. I had a hard time at first because I can work from home, when it came to separating work and home life. I found that I needed to set a time for the day that when I was done working, I was DONE working. I don’t allow myself to think about things I need to get done the next day, or even play the next day at all. I turn the “work” side of my brain off and just enjoy my home time.
5- Don’t try to do everything the way you did before the baby
Having a baby rocks your world and flips it completely upside down. There is no returning to the person you used to be, so why should you expect that you’ll return to the same routine? You won’t, so don’t beat yourself up trying. Instead, find a new routine that works for you. Maybe that means only making a homemade dinner 3 times a week instead of 5. Maybe it means you spend an extra hour or two on the weekend meal prepping so that you have minimal work during the work week. For me, it meant stocking up on meals that could be cooked in 15 minutes or less and going to bed earlier so that I wasn’t as sleep deprived.
6- Keep a baby journal
When I first started working with Sydney, I was overcome by mom guilt almost every second of every minute I was away. I felt like she was missing me and I was missing out on everything. Here’s the thing though- babies don’t totally have concept of time and you’re not missing as much as you think. I started keeping a “one line a day” book (find the one I have on amazon here) and every day I would just write down something that she did or a memory I had of her. Then looking back, I found that I still was able to appreciate, experience, and enjoy my baby and that just because I worked didn’t mean I was missing the best things about her. Plus it’s fun to go back later and read it. 🙂
7- Make time for just you and the baby (and other kids!) after work
The laundry can wait. It really can. Take advantage of the time you have to just soak up the snuggles and play time.
8- Baby Wearing
This is my obsession. If you follow me on Instagram at all you know I post tons of baby wearing shots, and I’ve mentioned it a few times in posts, too, since having Emilia. It has saved my life. After work when I want to sit and hold the baby, but I really need to get a few things done I can just strap her to me and still have my hands free to get stuff done. WIN WIN. I have the Solly wrap and it’s absolutely the best and I recommend it to everyone I meet. I know there are several others out there that are good as well, so you have lots of options.
9- If you’re really struggling emotionally, don’t be afraid to get help
Many moms are suffering from postpartum depression and don’t even realize it, and if you’re struggling with depression it can make doing ANYTHING (especially leaving your baby for work) a million times more painful and difficult. I got postpartum depression after I had my first and it was almost debilitating, and I absolutely know it is part of what made things so difficult for me going back to work. When I eventually got help from a medical doctor, things got easier. If you are really struggling emotionally and you have more bad days than good when you’re leaving your baby for work, don’t be afraid to call the doctor and get help. Read more about my struggle with depression here.
10- Find a place you trust for daycare
Having someone you trust (or a facility that you trust) watching your baby is HUGE because you’ll decrease the amount of worrying and mom guilt you feel. Having somewhere you know is safe for your baby will help you feel empowered because you know you’re doing the best you can and that you’re baby is somewhere safe where they are happy and cared for. It might be tricky to find somewhere, but it’s worth the extra time, research, and even money to find somewhere you really trust and like to watch your baby.
11- Always be planning your next vacation!
This might seem a little weird, but always be forward thinking and be planning your next time off with your baby! It doesn’t have to be a vacation where you go somewhere and spend a lot of money, maybe it’s just the next work holiday that you have off, but always be looking forward to the next holiday or vacation time because it’s easier to get through the day every day knowing you have something fun coming in the future. Right now, I’m looking forward to Labor Day because I’m going to stay home and cuddle my babies all day <3
12- Meal prepping
I’ve never been a meal planner, but I’ll tell you what, spending an extra hour on Sunday to plan everything out and prepare everything saves me a ton of emotional and physical energy during the week when I’m exhausted after work and just want to spend time with my kids. It’s worth it.
13- Power Hours
This is something I learned from my boss actually, and I absolutely believe in it. You set a period of time aside that you plan to use to knock out the stuff on your to-do list without interruption or distraction. At work, we set blocks of a few hours to get stuff done and call them Power Hours. At home, I will set the timer for 15 minutes while the baby is playing in her chair or taking a nap, and I’ll run around and try to pick up as much clutter and pay as many bills (or whatever is on my to-do list) as I can. Having a dedicated time slot for when you’re going to get stuff done helps you be more efficient and makes better use of your time, meaning you get more time with your baby.
I hope these tips help a few of you mamas out there that are getting ready to start back to work. If you have any other tips, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!