By: Suzie Olsen
One of the things that Engineering Working Moms discusses frequently is tips for returning to work after maternity leave. Coming back to work after maternity leave has a wide range of emotions, from relief to sadness, and any tips to help smooth the transition are always appreciated in our group. So here are the top 10 tips for returning to work after maternity leave from our Engineering Working Moms (and by now means is this list an extensive one).
- Schedule a practice childcare day (or 2 or 3) for baby. Whether baby is going to a daycare center, grandparents, babysitter or staying home with a spouse or a nanny, it’s a good idea for baby and you (and also maybe spouse) to do a dry run of the drop-off, childcare, and pickup.
- Buy new work clothes. Potentially tying back to number 1, take some time for yourself to go buy a few new wardrobe pieces because real talk, things kind of fit differently or style tastes change after having a baby.
- Schedule a spa and salon day. Also potentially tying back to number 1, take some time to pamper yourself with a haircut (because real talk, most of us have neglected haircuts during maternity leave) and pedicure. Follow up with a nice, relaxing massage or whatever else relaxes you.
- Go back on Thursday/Friday to ease back into work. The first couple of days back to work are usually the equivalent of new employee orientation mixed sometimes with serious separation anxiety from the baby, so only 1 or 2 days until the weekend are a really good idea.
- See if you can work a reduced schedule for the first month or two. Some employers (but not all, unfortunately) allow for a slow ramp to the full 40 hours (in the US) when you come back to work. That can look like part-time, remote work, or a mix of both. Just ask; they might say no, but at least the data is conclusive if you ask (the data is inconclusive if you never ask).
- Prep baby’s stuff (bottles, solid food if already there, baby bag, etc) and whatever else (your breast pumping bag, your lunch, what you’ll wear, etc) you can the night before.
- Schedule your breast pumping breaks on your work calendar. If you decide to pump breast milk and do so at your employer (FYI check out this blog posts covering pumping at work and mother’s rooms: https://engineeringworkingmoms.com/2019/06/22/how-to-set-up-a-mothers-room-a-step-by-step-guide/), we’ve collectively learned it’s best to have it one your schedule so that people aren’t scheduling (unnecessary) meetings when you have to pump. You can mark it as a private meeting or if bold, mark it for what it is: breast pumping time.
- Schedule drop-offs and pickups on your (and spouse’s) work calendar(s). Again, to avoid people scheduling (unnecessary) meetings when you have to drop off or pick up baby, make these times are (private) meeting or out of office block on your work calendar.
- Schedule a fun lunch with your favorite work colleague for the day you come back to work. It’s something to look forward to, and it ties into 10 below.
- Allow yourself to feel what you feel about returning to work (anxious, sad, relieved, happy, numb, confused, excited, all of it, and anything else not listed) and share with someone who understands: a fellow working mom.
Please feel free to share what has worked for you!