Having back-to-work jitters after your maternity leave? Here are pointers to help you get back to the grind.
#1 Prepare yourself mentally
You may have a return-to-work date in mind beforehand. Assess the time you have from your maternity leave to your return-to-work date. Have you made the necessary childcare arrangements and preparations? Would you be comfortable with leaving your baby in someone’s care by that time? Manage your expectations and feasibility of your choices with your caregiver and family. If you feel you need time to re-adjust back to work, speak to your employer about it. You can clarify your job role or suggest alternatives to make your adjusting smoother.
Allow your baby to adjust to a new routine before returning to work. Whether it is transiting into infant care, or familiarising your baby with another caregiver, do it gradually. For example, you can start off with half days at the infant care centre. Be physically present when the other caregiver is around to help you take care of your baby.
Several parents have a specific ‘tag-team’ tactics with their spouses. For example, mummy can be the one who goes to work early, but returns earlier to pick baby up and daddy can be the one to drop baby off at the day care and head to work slightly later.
If your job has the flexibility to enable you to work from home, arrange something with your employee. Mum and dad can alternate to take turns of looking after the baby. This sort of arrangement may not seem like a drastic affair but if you add up the extra pockets of time spent with your little one, it will surmount to a significant difference.
#3 Gear Up
Stock up on supplies you would need when you head back to work. Are you planning to breastfeed at work? Have you bought your breastfeeding pumps, storage bags and other nursing accessories? Do you require new work clothes? Or thinking of getting a compact monitor camera so that you view and check in on your baby real time? These are a few considerations.
⇒ Related Read: The working mother’s tug-of-war
#4 Ease In
Don’t expect to get into your work groove immediately. Take it at your comfortable pace and don’t be overly ambitious. Instead of diving straight into a full-fledge hectic work week, pace yourself.
For example, you can schedule your return date to be a Wednesday or a week where there is a public holiday. Some mothers do a 3 to 4 day week for a month before resuming to a 5-day workweek. This will help you ease in to work after a few months of break.
From spending almost 24/7 with your baby to spending a few hours with your baby – this may be a rude shock to you and your baby too, should you decide to go on a full working-mode immediately. This transition also allows you to make any necessary tweaks in between along the way, so you can find what arrangement works best for you and your family.
#5 Back-Up Plan
Even with a full routine and predictable schedule, there may be traffic jams, transport breakdowns or a walk-in client when you want to leave. Have a back-up plan ready in case something crops up at work. Ensure someone reliable is able to take your place for times when you are held up at work. It can be your parents, in-laws, maid or spouse. This will minimize your anxiety when something happens unexpectedly.
The decision to return to the workplace is a personal one and differs for every mum. For some, considering not to work is not a choice. Going back to work after maternity leave can be a breeze and an apprehensive uphill trek.
No matter what the circumstance, it’s important to remind yourself of your motivation and intention – to allow your baby to grow up in the best environment possible.
By Som Yew Ya
This article was first published in New Age Pregnancy E-guide
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