Going Back to Work After Baby and Getting Into a Routine
Getting into the back-to-work routine after parental leave might require a little planning, but we have tips and suggestions that can help ease the new transition so it quickly becomes second nature!
Tips for Going Back to Work After Baby and Easing into a Routine
If you’ve made the decision to return to work after your parental leave, this can be a sensitive and busy time. You may be feeling a range of emotions about being away from your baby, all while getting used to a new daily routine that might involve busier mornings, daycare drop-offs and pick-ups on your way to or from work, and squeezing a lot of new responsibilities into the same 24 hours that you had before. Though it can take some time to get used to your new normal, it’s ultra-important to remember to be gentle with yourself during this time. It’s completely normal to have mixed emotions about going back to work after baby, with many parents often feeling prepared one day and sad, anxious, or guilty the next. These conflicting feelings are totally common – and remember, your hormones are still very much in flux! – but be sure to be extra patient with yourself as you get ready for your return to work.
Try these tips to help your new routine become second nature and make the logistics of going back to work after baby even easier on you both:
- Rest up! Getting ample rest with a new baby in the home may seem like an impossible task, but it’s especially important in the days leading up to your return to work. If possible, speak to your manager about easing back into your work schedule – perhaps returning part-time or partially remote for a few weeks – so you can gradually integrate your new routine. If that’s not a possibility, ask your partner or other support people to pitch in with household tasks and childcare so you can prioritize getting the sleep you need to help mentally prepare to go back into “work mode”. Going to bed early can also help you get plenty of rest before and between your little one’s overnight wake-ups, so you are ready to rock the day even if he or she isn’t yet sleeping through the night!
- Do a practice run. Some moms opt to do a full “dry run” in the days leading up to their return to work, where they’ll set the alarm; go through their new morning routine of breakfast, dressing, packing bags, and other A.M. tasks; and drop their little one off for a mini daycare stay. This can help you prioritize what your morning must-dos are, find the best route to daycare, and estimate how much time you both need to prepare for the day without rushing.
Other moms may simply start setting their alarm and going through their new morning routines at home, so it can be second nature by the time they are going back to work after baby. However you choose to do it, practicing your morning routine can help ensure things don’t get too overwhelming once you’re balancing working and “mom-ing”!
- Pack Your Diaper Bag and Breast Pump Bag Early. Getting your baby’s diaper bag and your breast pump bag organized the evening before can help save precious time during busy mornings. Your daycare will likely provide a list of items that should be packed for your little one each day, like a change of clothes and a supply of breast milk (consider a breast milk cooler set and extra ice packs for super easy, safe transport from the fridge to the diaper bag to daycare). You may even wish to include a printed copy of current breast milk storage and freezing guidelines (also available in Spanish) for your little one's caretaker. This way, all you need to remember to grab is your pumped breast milk from the fridge when on your way out the door during busy mornings. You can also check out our daycare feeding checklist!
Additionally, ensure that your breast pump parts are washed and sanitized, your pump is charged, and you have the accessories that you need – think extra breast milk storage bags, Quick Clean™ Micro-Steam™ bags, and breast pump and accessory cleaning wipes – packed in your breast pump bag the night before, so you can simply grab and go the next day. Though this means saving enough energy at the end of the day to thoroughly clean your pump parts and pack your bags, setting aside 20 or 30 minutes after your little one is asleep can make a world of difference – and your morning self might just be grateful!
- Be patient. Occasional hiccups can and will happen – whether it’s forgetting a change of clothes for your baby (who will, of course, need them on that exact day), losing your breast pump charger, or being late to work once or twice. Allow yourself flexibility to be human as you become accustomed a new routine and the range of emotions it may bring. A mindfulness app like Expectful can bring calm to your fingertips on the more challenging days and features plenty of resources and tools to better nurture your mental and emotional health. Finally, be sure to reach out for help if things start to feel overwhelming or if you’re unable to care for yourself and your baby.
Learn more about managing pumping at work, so going back to work after baby doesn’t affect your unique breast milk feeding goals. Breast milk feeding, working, and being a new mom may be feel like a balancing act at times, but once you have your routine down then you’ll quickly get the hang of things – and there will be no stopping you! Medela believes that every mom should breastfeed their baby for as long as they choose and we strive to support working moms in achieving (and even exceeding) their breast milk feeding goals. Remember, Medela is here for you every step of the way!