Surviving the First Week Back To Work After Maternity Leave

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I’m not going to lie and say I had the perfect first week back to work. Nor am I preaching that going back to work is the best thing ever, but it is a reality for a number of moms. As any mom knows it’s not easy to drop your son or daughter off and leave for a day. It’s especially hard when you have just spent the last 6-12 weeks at home with him or her. There was a lot that went into surviving the first week back to work after maternity leave… and it was NOT easy. 

Everyone kept asking me if I missed being pregnant and my answer since the day little man was born was “I know I will miss it when I go back to work.” It’s true, I do miss it now that I’m back at work. I don’t miss the pains, the morning sickness, the acid reflux, etc… but I miss the kicks, the hiccups and sharing my own  time with little man. What I miss most though is that I could take him to work with me everyday and it was never an issue.

My last three weeks at home I tried every way I could to figure out a way to financially afford to be a stay at home mom. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my job, LOVE my coworkers and have one of the best companies to work for. The only downside was that I would be missing out on 10 hours a day with my son. In my ideal world he would come to work with me and be a happy baby all day and I could do my job. Needless to say that’s “ideal” and will never happen.

On my first day back I was anxious as anyone could be. I was excited to see my co-workers, get back into the swing of things, catch up on the gossip, etc… but I wasn’t ready to drop little man off.

I am far from an expert, I’ve only done this once, but here are a few tips that I thought I would share that either would have made my day better or did help a lot with my first day back.

1. Talk with your boss about expectations ahead of time.

No offense to men, but most men haven’t spent 6 weeks at home with a child after carrying him/her around for 10 months in their stomach and then gone back to work. While they might have some understanding that you will probably have a hard day, there is a good chance they won’t fully understand it. Many women have not been through that experience either and it may take a little explaining to them that you need a day to catch up before being thrown back into things. Plan out your schedule with your boss so you know what you are walking back into and they know what to expect out of you the first day.

2. Take a picture, but don’t put it on your desk until you are ready.

This was one of my biggest mistakes in my first week back to work after maternity leave. I took a digital picture frame with me filled with 200 pictures of little man. I set it up as soon as I got to work. When my day started getting rough I happened to glance over and see a picture of him smiling and I spent the next 20 minutes in tears trying to convince my husband via text message that we could live off of his salary alone. Make sure you are emotionally ready to see photos of your little man/women before setting one on your desk.

3. Take a lunch.

It’s normal for me to take a day or two a week to work through lunch to catch up on things. Walking into a pile of work and 600 unread emails from the last 7.5 weeks, I didn’t feel like I deserved a lunch. Instead I spent 25 minutes in the bathroom bawling my eyes out. Taking a lunch during your first week back after maternity leave will allow you to walk away from the office for a bit, take some deep breaths and focus on something other than how much you don’t want to work (even though you love your job and probably wouldn’t be happy long term not working).

4. Share stories with your coworkers.

I’m not going to lie, my coworkers are awesome! My boss surprised me with a “Mom’s first day back to work survival kit” filled with a picture frame, Hershey kisses, tissues and gift cards to Panera, Old Navy and Starbucks. Everyone wanted to know how little man was doing and it was nice to share with them his latest development of smiling. Not only did it help me relax a little bit, it helped my coworkers get to know the little man I left home.

5. Remember that it does get easier.

I didn’t believe it. In total I spent almost 3 hours in tears my first day back to work. I have now been back a week and a half and have only cried two more times since then. One was completely unrelated to work. It never is easy to only spend 2 hours a day with your son or daughter, but chances are your job is helping support their future financially. They will thank you some day for it.

I love and admire the stay at home moms, and someday I hope to be able to join them. For now, like many others that is not an option for me. To all of those first time (second time, third time, etc) moms going back to work… keep your chin up! It is okay to be sad and it will get better!

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links.

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