Going back to work after maternity leave is a transition. Some moms look forward to getting back in the swing of things and getting a break from ‘baby world’ and others — like myself — there isn’t any longing to return to work. I knew it was inevitable that I’d have to face the transition back to the daily grind, but for good reason I managed to keep these thoughts out of my head during maternity leave.
Then… all too soon… it’s the call or email from your boss. “We look forward to seeing you on Monday!” You spend the next few days mentally preparing for taking back work responsibilities and trying on all your clothes to see what actually fits (not too much).
Sunday night comes and you’re in tears. Monday morning comes and you’re in tears. You arrive at work, everyone is so happy to see you, but you’re just fighting back tears every time they ask you about the baby.
It’s a big transition. Expect tears, expect fear and anxiety, and of course expect a little guilt. Maybe you’ll be lucky and will not have any of this — I wish that for you! — but the majority of moms I’ve spoken to do. I had all these feelings and really wondered if we should make a drastic life change (i.e. move somewhere cheaper) so I could stop working and be home with Archer. We are very lucky that Donavan’s job allows him to work from home and take care of Archer. I know not every family is able to have a stay at home parent, but no matter your daycare situation you still will miss your baby, wondering if what you’re doing is right and wish you had more time at home.
I was so desperate to spend more time with Archer after the first few weeks of going back to work that I came up with some ways to spend more time with him, even if it was just 15 more minutes in the morning, it was worth it. Here’s what we did to help with my transition back:
- Frequent picture text messages
- Calls mid day to check in
- Shortened hours for the first few weeks (left a little later for work and promptly headed home at 5:15 or 5:30 to get another hour and a half with him before bed).
- Lunch visits once or twice a week (Donavan would bring Archer to the office for a lunch date)
- Videos saved on my phone to view when I needed a pick me up
- On my way home from work, mentally transition off of business Lizzie to mommy, by singing his favorite song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Sounds weird to sing this in the car by myself, but I needed something to get me out of my traditional work role. It’s a mental shift that takes some practice.
If you have an at home Nanny all of this is doable. If you have daycare, you should still be able to get a phone call check in and at least one picture text message during the day. If you work close by, you should be able to go in for lunch once a week. (my sister does this with her son) Tell them you need it for the first few weeks to help you with the transition. If they refuse… maybe that’s a sign of needed a new daycare!
Now I’ve been back at work for 2 months and I am over any anxiety, fear or major guilt. Now I do have a different type of guilt, guild that I enjoy work and don’t miss being home. But I remind myself that I am doing what’s best for my family and I work hard to spend as much time I can with him. While I’m not there all day, I am there when he wakes up and to put him down for the night.
I’ve spoken to other Moms who have quit their jobs to stay home and almost all say “The grass is always greener.” You have to make the best decision for you, but I will tell you wait a few weeks before making any big changes. Try these tips and it will get easier. You’ll be surprised how quickly you fall back into a pattern. I don’t know if that is good or not, but if you have to work then know it gets easier with each week that goes by. It’s important that your boss and caregiver are flexible and supportive. The number one reason women quit promising careers is because their bosses are inflexible — don’t be one of those bosses — and I hope you don’t have one of those bosses. I had a conversation with my a week in and asked him to be patient with me as I transition back to full time work. He was supportive and even suggested bringing him in the office for lunches. You may be surprised what they offer if they know you are struggling a bit.
At the end of all this I asked myself, If I could stay home would I? I am not sure I would, I might prefer to work 3 or 4 days a week instead of 5 but in the end, I am proud to be a working Mom and to teach my son that his Mom is a hard working and successful woman — women can be mommies, wives and executives. That has to count for something!
Here I am getting ready in the morning with Archer. I spend as much time with him as I can, even if that means doing my makeup with one hand!