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Prepare For Your First Day Back At Work After Maternity Leave

How to Prepare For Your First Day Back In the Office

I won’t lie, it’s probably going to suck. Leaving your babe to go back to the office is something that few moms look forward to, even for moms who love their jobs. Having said that, from personal experience and after speaking with hundreds of new moms, it won’t be as bad as you think. The anticipation is far worse than the experience. It will be hard, but you got this. Just know that however you feel, whether scared, relieved, sad, nervous, lost, it’s ok. Also, remember that having a plan will make things easier.

Here are some tips to help you plan for the best, first day back:

  • Plant a messenger. Reach out to a colleague you trust and tell them how you want folks to react to you. Do you want to talk about the baby? Do you want to share your birth story? Do you want to only talk about work? What do you want people to know in advance? How do you want them to act? Think about it. Share it with your messenger. Let them spread the word. This will alleviate awkwardness for both you and your colleagues.
  • Figure out where you’ll pump. If you are a nursing mom, you may or may not have a designated pumping area. If you do, AWESOME! If you don’t, like many moms I know, figure out where you’ll make it happen. Is there a spare office you can use? Will you be relegated to a bathroom? Will you pump in your car? These last options sound awful, and they are, but they are also real.  Be prepared, depending on where you end up, will alter what you need for your pumping bag. If you are unsure of your options or what you know seems awful (pumping in the bathroom), contact your HR department and ask for help.  I’ve heard of companies clearing out closets, dedicating offices, putting up curtains in a windowed conference room and other things to accommodate.
  • Where will you cry? Seriously, it is very likely during your first few days back there will be some waterworks. You’ve been physically attached to your little one for a long while. This is most likely the longest time you’ve spent away from your babe, and it’s emotional. Not to mention, the stress of coming back. You can handle it, but you may need to cry. That’s OK. It’s unlikely you’ll actually want people to know and very likely you’ll want privacy in the midst of those tears. Figure out where you can let the waterworks fly. If you have a pumping room, that is a great option. Other options could be, a bathroom on a different floor, a copy room that locks and of course, if you have one, your car. 
  • Schedule alone time.  If you are pumping that may be enough time, or it also may not be. If you are not pumping, you definitely want to do this. Coming back and interacting with the adult world again is going to be great in some ways and overwhelming in others. Block a few 15-20 minute intervals when you can sit with yourself and process this experience.
  • Create a water/snack stash. Coming back to work has its own set of worries, whether or not you can stay fed and hydrated should not be one of them.

Bonus: Spend at least one day away from your babe prior to your first day of work (get the boo-hoos out).  If you can, spend at least 1-3 days mimicking your work schedule. If your little one is in daycare, with a nanny or a loved one, try to start that schedule a few days before you go back to work. Get to know what it feels like to leave your little one. Work through the anxiety and the tears prior to going back to work so that you are not dealing with the return to work AND leaving your babe for the first time, on the same day.

Now, go make your plan, call your messenger, take a deep breath, relax, and cuddle your babe. You got this.

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