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As my daughter is about to turn 2 (already?!?), I got to thinking about all the transitions that happen in such a short period of time.
Prepping for baby.
Going on maternity leave (or just leaving work in general).
Having the baby.
Realizing that now you have another person to care for.
Prepping to go back to work.
Leaving this new little baby to head back to work.
No matter what your situation consists of, the first time you leave your new little baby, it can be tough! Although I’m definitely no expert (and would never claim to be!) I have definitely learned a few things in the last couple of years about balancing home and work, and creating a new normal that is parenthood.
As you all know, I’m a full-time attorney. And by full-time, I mean I’m usually gone for 11-12 hours, 5 days a week, continuously check and respond to email, and think about work when I’m not in the office. ?
My daughter was born in May, so that meant going back to work the end of July… right in the heart of fire season in California. With a husband that’s a firefighter, I got to jump back in to work with a brand-new baby and a husband that was only home for 8 days in the first 3 months I was back at work.
New normal? You bet!
So looking back on that time, there are definitely some things I would do differently, and some things that worked out really well. Here are some ideas as you’re preparing to head back to work to make that transition go as smoothly as possible.
This is so important.
You’re a new mom, and now you have to jump back in to work-mode, without leaving mommy-mode behind. You didn’t change your role, you just added another on top of everything you were already doing!
Nobody says going back to work is easy.
But you can help yourself out a bit by mentally preparing yourself. Whether you love your job, hate your job, are excited to go back, or really wish you could stay home, I’m betting thoughts encompassing all of those areas will cross your mind at some point leading up to your first day back.
Personally, I love working. I always said that I would want to work full-time forever, and really, I was never a “kid person.”
Well, that changed…immediately.
As soon as my daughter was born (and I mean literally, immediately), she was my new best friend. I was obsessed! I never thought I would love a little baby like that, and it really threw me for a loop. Needless to say, I still had to go back to work after 3 months, and it was tough.
As I’ve said before, I spent the night before I went back crying to my mom on the phone because I felt like I was doing my daughter a disservice by going back to work. It was awful, and I was heartbroken to have to spend so much time away from her.
Some of the best things I did though, were to take lots of pictures (who doesn’t?!), and we did as many activities as we could while I was off work. We went for hikes with her in the front pack, we ran a 5k, we went out to the golf course and walked with my husband, we swam (since it was summer), we went to family events, and the best thing of all – I turned the ringer off on my phone so I never felt compelled to look at it when I should have been with the baby.
Honestly, preparing yourself is more about making sure you’re making the most of the time you have. This really helps when you’re feeling down, or miss the baby. So take some time to step back from the craziness of endless feedings, diaper changes, and the lack of sleep.
Think about how special that period of time is, and be thankful for whatever amount of time you have – it will really help you when you’re heading back to work.
With a new family member needing to get out the door also, life gets so much more hectic! Preparing your house as much as possible before you head back to work is a LIFESAVER.
Seriously, the less you have to think about/do/worry about during the week, the more mentally stable you will be!!
Making a meal plan for the week so everyone is on the same page and can jump in and help is huge. This saves you from the dreaded “what’s for dinner” question that generally makes most mom’s skin crawl… It also helps the family be more successful, because the less asking – more doing, the better!
List breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for the entire week, and post it somewhere that is visible to everyone. Whoever gets home first, gets going on it!
Organize the Common Areas
Staying organized will help you not go crazy. (I didn’t say it would prevent it completely, but it will help.)
It’s the worst to work all day only to walk in the door to a house that looks like a tornado came through. When that happens, I can just feel my blood pressure skyrocket!
How to combat the mess you ask?
Another helpful tip to keep the clutter at bay: always pick something up and put it away when you’re walking from one room to another. Trust me, I hate it as much as the next mom to spend an hour cleaning only to turn around and feel like the house is a disaster.
Every little thing helps.
Keeping the common areas clean during the week really seems to help cut down on the amount of cleaning that needs to be done on the weekend. Meaning you can still use that precious time weekend time with the family! So, get into the habit of keeping certain areas clean a couple of weeks before you head back to work, and you won’t feel like it is another thing added to your plate upon your return to work.
And the Family
Whether this is your first baby or you already have a full house, sitting down with the family to discuss the new schedule is a must.
No one is a mind reader, so discussing your expectations (and theirs!) will cut down on the stress of it all. My husband is gone a lot from May-November, so he isn’t always around to help out, and when he is, it sometimes messes with my schedule! Making sure he knows the routine, and what needs to be done – what is the most important v. what can wait until later, is essential.
Everyone has a place and the ability to conquer different tasks. If you’re breastfeeding, your husband isn’t likely going to be doing as many feedings…. 🙂 So maybe the dishes can get done while you’re feeding the baby, or the laundry can get started.
Our mantra is that everyone needs to be a productive member of the family, which means always chipping in. Kids of all ages can help too. My daughter knows that she has to put all her toys away before bed, and she is really helpful with throwing things in the garbage (i.e. less for me to do!)
This is only going to be successful if everyone knows what is expected. So again, get into the new habits a week before you go back to work so you can fine-tune any issues, or help guide the older kids so they are successful too.
And By Family, I Mean Everyone You Know…
Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
I’m not gonna lie… we did not ask for enough help when my daughter was born, and I really wish we had. I spent too many days without a shower, overly stressed, and pushed to my limit. But no one will know what you need unless you ask. Friends and family are always willing to chip in, but they need to know where they are needed!
What helped you, or made things harder as you were making the transition after a new baby? If you’re currently facing these new changes, what are you most worried about?