Written by Audrey Adelson
The best advice offered to women returning to work after having a baby is to plan ahead. Experts say that the more prepared you are, the more in control you feel. Below are some tips to help you be prepared:
Create a schedule.
Creating a schedule is important for both you and your baby. Scheduling for one can be tricky, but when you are scheduling for two or more it can get complicated. Everyone has their own unique situation and what works for one person does not necessarily work for another. Finding time to meet all of your responsibilities is challenging and you may need help at times.
Ease back into work if you can.
Review and evaluate flexible work options to determine if one may be possible for you. Flexible work options such as flex time or a reduced work schedule may be the support that you need to help you and your family transition back into working full-time after being out of the office for several weeks/months.
Discuss your work schedule with your boss.
Be sure that your manager is aware of your new family responsibilities and what time you are needed at home. Child care centers are not flexible with their hours of operation and you may not be able to be as flexible as you were prior to your baby being born. Working overtime or staying late for a meeting may not be an option for you at this time. Discussing this in advance will help you feel more in control.
Have a back-up care plan in place.
We strongly encourage you to have several back-up care plans in place for days that your child care provider is not available or your baby is sick and needs to be home for a day or two. Knowing what resources are available to you in advance and having a plan will be extremely helpful to you.
Maintain lists to help keep you focused both at home and at work.
There may likely be times when you are juggling a lot. Keeping track of what you need to do and what you have been doing helps you when you have a lot going on.
Secure reliable child care.
This cannot be emphasized enough: Allow yourself plenty of time – hopefully you started this before the baby came. We occasionally receive calls from parents who are scrambling to find child care a week or two before returning to work. This can be very stressful to new parents and can be very problematic if you live close to campus. Quality and affordable child care providers are hard to find and the closer in-town you live, the longer the waiting lists tend to be, leaving options far and few between. Some resources to help you include:
Review the lactation policy and locate nearest lactation rooms to your worksite.
Emory supports nursing mothers and offers privacy for new mothers to pump breast milk as well as onsite consultation to new mothers transition back to work.
Prepare yourself emotionally.
Many new mothers returning to work have mixed emotions about doing so. It is okay to feel this way. If you need help managing these emotions, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. FSAP offers free onsite counseling and joining a new mother’s group can be very helpful.
Be real – You are not superwoman!
Alternating back and forth between working and managing parental responsibilities (and trying to find time for yourself) is challenging and you need to discover a new way of living. Your priorities and attitudes change. You are not able to do it all and don’t burden yourself with the expectation that you can. If you do, you let yourself down at some point. Know what resources are available to help you and reach out to others.
Create a partnership at home and work as a team where you can at the office.
Cultivate relationships with family and friends.
Learn that you can live with compromise.
Set realistic expectations of yourself and others.
Practice boundary setting.
Familiarize yourself with the benefits and resources available to you through Emory, your partner’s employer and in your community.
Remember that work-life looks different to everyone and avoid comparing yourself with others.
Being a working mom can be extremely rewarding and you can experience times you feel like you really have it down. There can be other times when you feel more challenged and feel exhausted with no end in sight. Take time for yourself. Take time for yourself. Take time for yourself. You will be okay. You will be great.