Tips to make your work life easier when you return from maternity leave

Of all the challenges you’ll face as a new mom, returning to your job when your maternity leave is over is high on the list.

You’ll be coping with a new definition of “normal” as you arrange for child care, find work clothes that still fit, and get your household and new schedule in order. Many moms find the transition to be both exhilarating and exhausting. Most have at least a twinge of guilt about leaving their little one with others.

Here are a few quick tips to help you prepare for a smooth and (nearly) guilt-free transition. 

Ease into your new routine

Consider starting your child’s daycare a week or so before your back-to-work date. This can help you, your baby, and your caregiver get accustomed to the new routine. If you have any vacation time left, use it to create a few shorter work weeks before you move back to a full-time schedule.

Acknowledge and share your new priorities

When you head back to your workplace, remember that your priorities may have changed. Instead of the long hours and overtime that were hallmarks of your pre-baby career, you may be looking for a new work/life balance so you can make it home in time for your child’s dinner and bedtime.

Your supervisor and co-workers need to hear about your new focus, too, so they know what to expect—and why you won’t be available for longer lunches or after-hours meetings. Your changing availability is an important reason why you need to talk to your employer.

Talk to your employer because he or she may be more flexible than you think

Make sure you have a conversation with your immediate manager about your new situation too. You may be able to work out an adjusted schedule, such as working a few longer days with one day off.

Take advantage of your company’s benefits

If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious after a few weeks back at work, see if your company offers extra help or resources through an employee assistance program.

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