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There’s no sugar coating it – going back to work after having a baby is hard. Even if you love your job and know you want to continue working, it is still hard! I had always known that I wanted to continue working after I had kids, so it really hit me hard when I realized that this new little person, (who I had quickly become obsessed with), was going to have to go to daycare at only 3 months old.
Naturally, I spent the night before I went back to work a complete mess – sobbing, crying to my mom on the phone, wondering if I was doing the right thing or if I was doing her a disservice… Yes, I still have days where I wish I was home with her, but I have come to terms with her being in daycare. Knowing she has a great time and is happy makes all the difference.
But seriously, not only are you adjusting to a completely new life with the baby, but now you have to manage to get yourself, and the baby, out the door…on time? It is completely overwhelming sometimes, because babies have a ridiculous amount of stuff, and they don’t always like to go along with your plans.
Not to mention they have a knack for having a blow-out or spitting up at the most inopportune times. (Ever been driving to work and getting whiffs of poop, only to find that it’s coming from your dress, because the baby had a massive blow-out right as you were leaving? Well, I have. )
So whether you’re getting ready to go back to work, or you’re already back and feel like there is a lot to get a handle on, here are 10 tips for going back to work after baby.
1. Make a List
This saved me for the first 6 months of being back at work. I wrote down everything I would need to remember in any given week. That one list provided room for check marks for 3 weeks. Yes. I went down the entire list every morning before I left and checked off that I had each and every item.
The amount of time this saves overall is unbelievable. With a new baby, and trying to go back to work, you have a million things on your mind, and you are bound to forget something. Making such a comprehensive list allowed me to not have to rely on my memory, and trust that the list was all I needed.
By checking everything off each morning, I was able to walk out the door without worrying I was forgetting something.
Hands down, this trick was the best thing I did going back to work.
2. Labels for Baby Bottles/Food Containers
I cannot tell you how much time I wasted every night re-writing our last name on each piece of each bottle because permanent marker isn’t permanent when you wash dishes.
You spend enough time washing tons of dishes, and preparing the bottles for each day (not to mention all of the other things you have to do each night!) – wasting another 20 minutes each night writing your name on everything is a complete waste of time.
I don’t know about you, but when I first went back to work the evening routine took me about 2 hours after the baby went to bed. So yeah, saving 20 minutes each night would have been a dream!
Saving time leads right into tip #3….
3. Buy Enough Bottles!
Seriously, I can’t stress this enough. Remember how I said I’ve tried to be a minimalist with the baby stuff? Yeah, well, only having about 8 bottles was not one of my better ideas.
By having more bottles, you’re not forced to wash each and every bottle every night before you go to bed. Some of those bottles have 6 parts! I counted one night, and I washed 89 bottle and pumping parts. That’s crazy!
Do yourself a favor. Have at least 3 days’ worth of bottles. That way you have a little leeway and aren’t forced to wash every piece every night. Trust me – it’s a nightmare.
4. Prepare the Night Before
I definitely spent a decent amount of time in the evenings getting ready for each day. But it is so much easier to get things done when the baby is sleeping. My daughter’s morning habits were not that consistent, so I never knew if she was going to be up at 4, 5, or 6. I wasn’t about to risk having an awful morning by not getting things ready the night before.
Prepare the bottles for the next day, and make sure they have all the necessary labels on them. This helps you to just grab and go in the morning.
Don’t forget about yourself though!
You need breakfast and lunch also. Just like you’re getting the baby’s food ready, get as much of yours ready the night before also.
At the very beginning of going back to work, I staged certain staples for each day’s lunch in the fridge, so almost all of my lunches were already done and ready to go before Monday morning. While that isn’t always practical, I do still write out what I will be having for lunch each day on my weekly meal plan .
5. Prepare as Much as Possible on Sunday
Keeping with my attempt to streamline the weekdays, I plan out my outfits for the week and get all of the ironing done Sunday night.
Again, avoiding any morning “issues” helps tremendously when you’re getting used to a new routine with a baby! I love knowing that I have already planned my outfits according to my weekly schedule, and don’t have to stand there in the closet thinking “that doesn’t fit,” “that takes too long to iron,” or “what I was hoping to wear is dirty…”
By having everything done and ready to go, you don’t waste time trying to figure out what to wear, and can focus on the other 100 things you have to do each morning!
6. Get as Much Sleep as You Can
This isn’t just for going back to work – it is just a general survival tip for having a new baby. But, it is almost more important when you’re going back to work.
Once you’ve headed back to work, you have to concentrate more – driving in traffic…actually doing the work you’re being paid to do…If you’re exhausted, you’re not going to be thinking clearly.
You’ll be doing everyone, your boss, your family, the baby, and yourself, a favor by getting as much sleep as you can.
7. Drink Enough Water
I could rattle off a ton of reasons why drinking enough water is important when you’re headed back to work. It could be that you’re breastfeeding and will be trying to keep your supply up while you’re pumping at work, or you don’t want to be consuming too much caffeine if you’re breastfeeding so water will help keep you alert.
Really though, getting enough water will help keep you from getting sick (as will getting enough sleep!) A new baby going to daycare is exposed to so many germs, and they bring them all home with them!
I was one of those people that rarely got sick, and prided myself on never missing work or catching what other people had. And, then I had a baby.
I have been sick more often since my daughter started daycare than I have in my entire life! Keeping up on the water does wonders for helping your body fight off all those germs that like to make their way into your home.
8. Bring Pictures of the Baby
Like I said at the beginning, going back to work is hard. And I can’t say enough how mentally unprepared I was going back. I was never a “baby” person, and thought I would have no problems at all heading back to work. Boy was I wrong.
My baby is going to be 2 in a few months, and I still miss her terribly throughout the day! I love getting pictures of what she’s doing if I can, and I am constantly looking at her pictures on my phone.
There is something about having a real picture sitting on your desk that is incredibly comforting though. So, bring a few. Bring one of just the baby. One of you and the baby. And one of the whole family.
Being able to glance at that precious little face can give you the pick-me-up you need to remember why you are where you are, when at that moment you’d rather be with the baby.
9. Cut Yourself Some Slack
Going back to work is hard. Do you believe me yet?? It’s tough to be 100% new mom, 100% wife/girlfriend, and 100% employee.
You’re only one person, and you can’t do it all. So if by Thursday evening the house looks like a tornado came through, it’s ok. Really.
So if you feel like you’re not living up to expectations, they are probably just your own. You’ll get into the new routine, and everything will even out. But don’t be afraid to take a deep breath, and remind yourself that you’re doing a great job.
10. Learn to Say No
Getting used to a new life and a new routine is exhausting. There is no need to feel compelled to say yes to everything.
I know, co-workers are getting together, and you don’t want to say no. You don’t want your friends to think you’ve changed now that you’ve had a baby, so you feel like you have to say yes to every invite. And you don’t want to be seen as the daughter-in-law who is demanding, so you cave every time, even though it is past the baby’s bedtime.
You are trying to navigate this new world of being a mom, and keeping up with being the best employee that you can. Don’t add the pressure of feeling obligated to say yes to everything that comes your way.
Trust me. Your mental health will thank you.
Going back to work after baby is stressful and a huge adjustment. Do yourself a favor, and make things as easy on yourself as possible!
You’ll get into a new routine, and you’ll forget how you did things in the past, but it definitely takes time.