Many new parents now face a very different return to work than they had anticipated. Whether you are commuting back to an office or across your kitchen to your desk, we hope these tips for going back to work after a baby will help with the transition.
Don’t Try to Catch Up on Everything
One common concern of new moms returning to work is not knowing everything that happened in their absence. Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to catch up on every meeting or email. Before you return, schedule a chat with your boss to determine how you can be most helpful right away when you get back. Communicate with key teammates to get the condensed version of what you really need to know to dive back in.
Accept That Nothing Will Be the Same
Parenthood changes everything permanently. In many ways, so does a pandemic. The childcare you thought you had lined up may no longer be available. Working from home may be a reality throughout your child’s infancy and beyond. Sit down with your partner and map out life as it is now, not as you had expected it to be. This may include who sleeps when, what extra precautions you will take if one of you is working out of the home (handwashing, changing clothes, sanitizing surfaces, etc.), and how you will give each other time to get your work done.
Prioritize and Negotiate
Make sure you get clarity from your boss about the scope, deadline, and importance of projects you agree to take on. If a deadline is unrealistic, negotiate. Don’t be afraid to say, “I can work on this priority task and have it done by Friday and the less urgent task by next Tuesday. Will that be acceptable?” Hold to your boundaries and set a firm schedule. Ease into going back to work by negotiating a phased return of reduced hours to begin, if you can.
Insist on Some “Me Time”
Take breaks and eat lunch at regular times and defend your “me time” as essential to your productivity. Be disciplined about sleep. If you are still conducting feedings in the wee hours of the morning, anticipate that time and go to bed an hour earlier.
Going back to work after a baby doesn’t mean giving up cuddle time, although it may be on a different schedule. Treat yourself to a luxury baby blanket to snuggle together with your infant in the glider or rocking chair. After all, one of the benefits of working from home is the chance to hold your baby while you read the latest reports of your team’s performance or research your next presentation. Your “mommy time” is essential to your “me time.” Protect and enjoy it!