What Every New Working Mom Should Know

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I just went back to work after baby number three. You would think it would get easier by the third time, but it doesn’t. I’ve spent most of each of my maternity leaves trying to cobble together a plan that would allow me to stay at home for at least the first year, but no such opportunities ever presented themselves (and I do have a really nice career), so I went back to work at twelve weeks post-baby each time.

Being a three-time veteran of the working mom return to work has given me a little perspective, and I wanted to share some of the insights I’ve managed to glean over the years for any new moms who find themselves emotional and feeling overwhelmed in this position for the first time.

Being emotional is okay. 

In fact, it’s more than okay, it’s normal.  When I went back to work after my first son was born, I spent the majority of the first week sobbing at my desk with my phone set to “do not disturb.” It was rough. You’re full of wildly fluctuating hormones, exhausted to the point of near-delirium, and are most likely still months away from fitting back into your pre-pregnancy work-wear (which, let’s be honest, isn’t exactly a mood-booster). Allow yourself to process whatever emotions you’re feeling. Give yourself the space and the freedom to be human. Be honest with how you’re feeling. Putting up walls will just take up more energy, and you don’t have any of that to spare.

Other moms can relate.

Hopefully you have some other working moms in your life you can talk to and bond with. I’ve often been surprised at how eager other working moms are to encourage and support one another. So reach out to other moms you work with and network with. If you don’t have support around you, check out online groups and forums for working moms.  A little encouragement goes a long way, and knowing you’re not the only one struggling with that heart-ripped-out-of-your-chest feeling when you miss your baby is wonderfully comforting.

Your relationship with your baby won’t suffer. 

Really. Believe me on this one. It’s true. Despite the fact you may be gone more than 8 hours a day, you’ll still have so many precious moments with your baby. You’ll always be mom. You’ll always be a valuable, necessary and cherished source of comfort and love. You’ll be able to carve out a lot of time together and those moments with be incredibly rich with purpose and intentionality.

Your sleep cycle will adjust. 

Somewhat. You’ll never again sleep like you did before having kids. But the exhaustion dissipates eventually and your routine falls into a new pattern. You’ll get by – even if there are days you just don’t know how you’ll keep awake. Rest while you can and be gracious to yourself when you go back to work.

Ease into the transition if you can. 

This isn’t always possible, and that’s okay. But if you’re able to, try negotiating with your employer to work reduced hours, temporarily move to part-time, or explore work-from-home options while you ease back into your work schedule. When you present it as a temporary arrangement your boss is more likely to agree. If you feel like you’re doing too much too fast, it’s absolutely worth it to explore options for additional flexibility in your work schedule.

Working moms are valuable.

Hopefully you work in an office where women are championed and encouraged, and not some backwards bastion of sexism. Women have valuable contributions to make to the workforce and working moms are no exception. My philosophy has always been that although I might need days off for sick kids and doctors appointments and extra breaks to pump breastmilk, being a working mom makes me more committed to my work. I’m not going  to leave my precious babies all day to show up and do a half-assed job; I’m going to contribute something valuable so that I can show my kids that my work was truly significant in addition to enabling me to bring home a paycheck.

You can do it!

There will be obstacles to overcome: exhaustion, showing up late because baby had meltdown, breastmilk soaking your shirt in an important meeting….Know you can do it. Working moms are strong! YOU are strong!!!

So, stay strong, mama! You’ve got this. All us working moms are cheering you on. It doesn’t get easier – but you’ll make it good.

What’s your best advice for a new mom heading back to work?
Linked with:

Best of Worst
Modern Dad Pages
You Baby Me Mummy

12 thoughts on “What Every New Working Mom Should Know

  1. Mumma McD says:

    Oh it is hard, but I feel it’s worth it. I managed to have a whole year off after my first, but had to go back after just 6 months with number 2, which was quite heart wrenching as I just wasn’t ready!
    But after a few weeks things settled down and we worked out a good system and routine. There was a fair bit of crying in the staff toilets those first few weeks though!
    #bestandworst

  2. Sarah Howe (@RunJumpScrap) says:

    Wow you went back so early. I’m guessing that it is just how it works in the States? Hard going. I had 14 months off and it was hard. It was actually too long and I had lost a lot of confidence and missed my girl a lot more than I thought I would. You have done amazing!! Hats off to you. Thanks so much for linking up to #bestandworst and see you soon xx

    • Claire Louise says:

      Oh – it’s brutal in the States. I’m lucky to get 12 weeks, I know plenty of moms who have had to go back at just 6 weeks postpartum. It’s probably not easy no matter when you go back – which is why us working moms need to encourage each other!! Thanks for reading!!

    • Claire Louise says:

      Great perspective! It helps to know your baby is in a caring environment and well taken care of! It is nice to be around friends and grown ups too!!! Otherwise I’d have absolutely no idea what is going on in the world! 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  3. Nicole says:

    Great post, this is perfect advice for moms just returning to work. I remember how hard it was for me when I did and what an emotional rollercoaster it was. Unfortunately I did not have a very understanding employer and they hated kids so that was hard. Thanks for sharing. #wineandboobs.

    • Claire Louise says:

      Oh wow – having an unsympathetic employer would be a nightmare! I can’t imagine having to deal with that on top of everything else that goes into trying to manage work plus baby! You’re a strong mama!!!

  4. Alana says:

    Oh my gosh, going back after 12 weeks must have been so hard. I found it difficult after 11 months! Well done for doing such an amazing job!
    Alana x
    #thelist

    • Claire Louise says:

      I have to admit, 12 weeks is rough. I know so many mamas who have had to go back after just 6 weeks. It’s unfortunate that here in the United States we don’t have a better support system for new families to give them more time to bond and adjust. I’m lucky to live in California where we can get 6 weeks of family leave after our 6 weeks of disability run out. My employer has been kind enough to allow me to cut back to part time for a couple months this time to ease back into working life – but it’s going to be a huge burden to our finances. Eek!

  5. Fola Lewis says:

    I can so relate to this post! I didn’t think I’d be able to cope with going back to work and I was in a daze for the first 4 or 5 months but it got easier and a year on I’m finally back to a semblance of normality. Great read!

    • Claire Louise says:

      That’s awesome!! It definitely takes time to adjust, doesn’t it? You definitely need to allow yourself that time to settle into your “new” normal….. It comes eventually… 🙂

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