Congratulations! You’re pregnant! Soon you will be welcomed into the magical, sleep-deprived world of mommy hood. But what about work? Maternity leave flies by in the blink of an eye, but there are a few things that will help make the transition back to work easier. The sooner you start planning your maternity leave, the easier it will be on everyone involved. One of my closest friends is getting ready to head back to work after having her first baby, and we have been talking about these tips a lot lately.
Here are a few dos and don’ts of returning to work after maternity leave.
Do: Speak to human resources ahead of time. To make returning to work go as smoothly as possible, make sure you and your company are on the same page BEFORE your baby comes. While pregnant, get all the details regarding your maternity leave in writing. Be sure to read up on maternity leave laws beforehand so you know your rights. (click here for maternity leave laws by state)
Don’t: Assume your entire maternity leave will be paid, or that you will automatically get 3 months off. While there are medical leave laws, each company has its own policy. You may get 12 weeks of leave, but only 6 weeks of it will be paid. Double check every detail, so there won’t be any surprises.
Do: Speak with your boss before going back to work. As your return date approaches, touch base with your boss. Maybe your manager will allow you to come in late for the first few weeks to help ease the transition. If you are thinking about switching around your schedule to accommodate the baby, make sure your boss knows this and that it is acceptable to everyone involved.
Don’t: Wait until you have the baby to start looking for childcare. Many day cares have waiting lists, so it never hurts to get ahead of the game. If you are planning to get a nanny, you should start looking for that person ahead of time. You want to give yourself time to do background checks and secure a start date.
Do: Have a childcare run though, if possible. If your child will be going to daycare, plan to drop the baby off there for a few hours to get everyone used to the situation. If you have a nanny or family member watching the baby, be sure to figure out the exact schedule. What time will they be coming over each day, will they watch the baby at your home or theirs, will they be traveling with the baby, do they have the right car seat adapter… etc.
Don’t: Beat yourself up. Thanks to the time home and those crazy pregnancy hormones there is a very good chance you are going to doubt your decision to go back to work, or even be tempted to quit. Try to remember why you decided on your original plan to go back to work and stick with it. Now is not the time to make any sudden decisions. (pregnancy hormones, remember?) Your baby is going to be okay. You are going to be okay. (and it’s okay to cry on the way in, most new momma’s admit to doing this, myself included)
Do: Give yourself extra time to get ready. It’s your first day back, you don’t need to stress yourself out more by running late. Make you you set everything you will need out the night before… for you and the baby. You are about to get a taste of how much longer your morning routine will now take, thanks to your little one!
Going back to work after having a new baby is never easy, but you can do it. Keep a positive outlook and you will be back in the groove in no time!
I originally wrote this post for Mom.co