10 Ways to Plan Your Return to Work and Reduce the Stress
You’ve been on maternity for three months and the dreaded return date is near. How you transition back into work can have so many variables and a huge impact on your outlook as a working mom. Sometimes the anticipation of the return can be much worse than the act of actually going back to work. Of course everyone is different.
A planned transition will lessen your stress and help ease you back into work more smoothly. Consider the suggestions below and practice the steps that will work for you and your family as you begin to plan your return. You will be glad you did it in the end.
1) Clear the calendar!
For the first two weeks or month back to work, be sure to keep your weekends open. Family time becomes so very important when you are a working mom. Keeping the weekends open while you transition back to work will reduce your stress and overwhelm.
Make your family the first priority when you are at home. It will also give you a lot of time for all the hugs and kisses you will give your little one(s).
2) Set-up a mid-to-end of the week start date.
Try a Wednesday or Thursday start so you are closer to the weekend and the first day back will feel less daunting. Looking at a whole week ahead of you when you return to work may feel stressful. With fewer days to work in that first week, it will be a source of relief when you know the weekend is just a couple days away.
Breastfeeding? Talk with your manager or Human Resources about accommodations prior to your return.
3) Part-time transition schedule.
If your employer will allow it, go back to work on a part-time schedule and ramp up to full-time within a month or two.
4) Set your boundaries!
It’s a delicate dance setting boundaries at work, but open communication will help build your work/life foundation as you get back into the work groove. You know how to navigate your office culture. If it’s a “manage your manager” type of environment, take advantage of the opportunities to set the expectations in the beginning. It will help you as you move down the work road.
5) Ease into the daycare world.
Whether you opt for a daycare situation, a nanny or grandparent care, ease into the program. Do something for yourself before heading back to work and start the drop-off routine. Schedule a spa morning, get a pedicure or plan a haircut. Set your appointments on different days so you enjoy more down time and you will give yourself the opportunity to practice dropping off your baby. It’s really in your best interest to experience a few drop-offs before your first day back at work.
6) You’re just a cell phone call away.
The last thing you want is to be in a never-ending meeting with the feeling of being disconnected from your baby. Talk with your manager about the importance of keeping your cell phone with you at all times (on vibrate of course). It will give you piece of mind and set the right expectation with your manager from the beginning. Ok… one exception to this step is when you use the restroom, but you get the picture!
Recognize the guilt and then squash it!
It’s pretty common to cry, especially the first day you return to work. Daycare is a common guilt trigger for working moms. Try to nurture yourself along the way and manage the guilt triggers. Give yourself a break by acknowledging the contribution you are making to your family by working.
7) Practice the blocking factor.
People will always give their comments and views about daycare and being a working mom. Imagine yourself as a football player blocking, weaving and ducking those people who will try to jump on you with their opinions. Sounds silly, right?
Rather than engage in a conversation that will eventually lead you to defend your choices, it’s worth your time and energy to focus on the things you are doing for your family and your career. It’s less important to make someone else feel better about your choices because for some reason they don’t agree with them.
8) Saying No is OK!
Before kids, life was lived on a whim. You could do anything at almost any time. Being a working mom, time is of the essence. Practice saying “no” to the things you don’t want to do or really don’t have time to do when you are not at the office. If it doesn’t fit, simply decline. Lose the guilt, too! It’s ok to say “no” and it will lessen the load for you.
Say “yes” to the things you want to do and can fit into the schedule. It’s your schedule!
9) Me time is so important.
A transition is just that… a transition, a passage, a changeover. It will take a bit of time to make the “changeover” into the world of work. You will need “me time” and it is so valuable to get it in the weekly schedule.
A walk at lunch time, a coffee late night with a friend or a few minutes to stretch for relaxation can act as “me time” activities. Whatever it may be that works for you, grab hold of the “me time” and include it in that schedule as soon as possible during the transition back. Make it a part of your life to rejuvenate and reduce the stress along the way.
10) Keep it positive! You’ll make it through. You will look back and realize the fabulous job you really did!
What tips do you have?