By Jamie Bosse
You blinked and now your maternity leave is over. You are going back to work on Monday and feel totally unprepared. Instead of letting the dread and panic take over, get organized and make an action plan, so that you can take charge of this big transition.
- Establish Protocol:
What time do you need to leave the house? Who is doing child care pick up and drop off? What materials need to make it into the car each weekday morning? You have a good handle on how long it takes YOU to get ready, but how much time should you add to feed, dress, and prep your little one for the day?
- Practice Pumping:
If you plan to continue breast feeding after you return to the workplace, you and your breast pump will become very close! Identify the times of day you’ll need to take a pump break (If the baby nurses every few hours, try to plan on 10:00am, 1:00pm, and 4:00pm or around those times). Communicate that schedule to your co-workers by blocking 30 minutes on your calendar. You’ll probably only need 15 minutes for the actual pumping, but you’ll need to allow for some set up and clean up time. Get familiar with the territory – where will you pump? Where will you to clean up and dry the equipment? When I was pumping, I would rinse the pump parts and then steam clean them in microwave steam bags (Medela sells them). The steam clean only takes about 1.5 minutes. No microwave? Bring a bottle brush. I cleared out one of my desk drawers and lined it with towels to let the parts dry discreetly in between pumping sessions. Where will you store the milk? I put my bottle bag and ice brick in my freezer overnight so it would be cold all day as I added bottles.
- Pack the night before:
Mornings always seem to be hectic, especially when everyone needs to be somewhere at a certain time. Eliminate some of this stress by laying out the baby’s clothes and needed materials the night before and have a designated area in the fridge for what you need to grab on the way out. Select your outfit (shoes and jewelry included) the night before, so you don’t have to make a bunch of decisions during the crazy morning hours. Don’t question your choice, just put it on and get ready to go! You may want to have a back-up outfit planned in the case of vomit, milk leaks, or explosive baby diarrhea. Once you have a child you become a sort of Sherpa – you will carry at least 3 bags at all times, a car seat, as well as the actual infant so you will literally have your hands full. The more you have packed and ready to go the night before, the faster you will be able to get out the door.
- Get up first and dressed last:
I find that if I am the first one awake in the house, I can usually get at least partially ready before someone else needs me. Unfortunately, children wake up at all hours, so you’ll never be safe! Have a plan for what you’ll do with the kid if they are up, but you still need to get ready – bouncy chair outside of the shower, high chair in the bathroom, or bring them in the shower with you. It is also a good idea to not be fully dressed when man-handling an infant. Wear a robe or a full-coverage apron to protect your clothes from the unexpected.
- Shower the night before to save time:
On days when my husband is out of town and I know we’ll be in a rush in the morning, I shower the night before to shave 15 minutes off our morning schedule.
- Enlist help:
Sometimes we don’t ask for help even when we really need it. Vocalize what you are struggling with and let someone help you! Have a neighbor who walks by every morning and would love to cuddle your baby while you pack the car? – let her. Have a mother who will drop off the kids at daycare for you on Tuesdays? – let her.
Most importantly, communicate with your partner. If you say “I got this,” they will believe you and you will just continue to be in a constant state of stress. Give them specific instructions so they can help. No one can read your mind even though we think they should be picking up on obvious signals! Also, your co-workers may not understand why you have to pump over lunch instead of going to the local burger joint or why you can’t be in six consecutive meetings during the day. Be sure you communicate your new schedule and how you are working around it.
Getting into your new work routine after being on maternity leave can be tough. It is an emotionally and physically challenging time, but by planning ahead and doing the items on the list above, you may save yourself some time, stress, and headaches. Most importantly – go easy on yourself!
For advice on being a working mom and how to handle other life transitions, schedule a meeting by clicking below, contact Jamie Bosse –firstname.lastname@example.org or call (913) 345-1881.