The End of Maternity Leave - Returning to work
Going Back to Work After Baby - Tips to Bring Ease to the Chaos
If you’re reading this post, chances are, you or someone you know is coming to the bitter end of maternity leave. Oh Mama, I Empathize.
First there’s the emotional end of this major change – the guilt trip we send ourselves on is a big one. Pack your bags ladies – this trip is long!
Your baby. Your everything. Handed over to another person. Left behind. Left to die in the streets!
Chances are basically 100% that you’ll cry on the first day, and if you’re me, subsequent days…
Then, we have this inconvenient shift in the family dynamic to deal with. New responsibilities thrust upon your husband (how rude!), causing strife and arguments. Struggling to find a new routine that gets all the sh*t done, and leaves you time for you. Welcome to the new normal.
Put Your Oxygen Mask On First
Like they say on the airplanes; “in the event of a drop in cabin pressure parental guardians must don their own oxygen masks before assisting children with theirs.”
Let’s just let that sink in for a second because in no way at all does this come naturally to a mama. But it could not be more important. Imagine: No oxygen in the cabin. You have two kids (and for comparison sake a husband who for some reason can’t do stuff). You hold your breath and struggle to get the mask on the first kid, then the second, then your husband, then yourself….. Oh wait. Snap. You died.
The moral of the story is that if you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t have the juice, the energy, the ‘oxygen’ to take care of your family. It might seem counterintuitive to introduce new self care routines in the face of more responsibility (namely going back to work), but beware mama, the pressure is about to drop. Here are some tips to lessen the blow:
Get enough sleep.
Because no amount of binge watching Netflix, steaming over Fitz vs. Jake on Scandal, will give you the warm fuzzy good feels that a good night’s sleep will give you.
Try this: Change your perspective on when your ‘me time’ needs to be. Studies show that we are actually our most creative version of ourselves in the early morning. So instead of staying up way past 9pm, eyes squinting, just trying to ‘treat yourself’ to one more episode after a long day, try to dial your bedtime back, and swap those evening hours out for some sacred morning moments. Just you, a cup of tea, and the whole wide world at your fingertips.
Routines are the Bomb.
It seems cheezy, and for some just plain unnatural. To my husband the idea of creating a fixed sequence of actions surrounding our daily responsibilities was annoying (at first). But creating a routine for morning and evening tasks is the ultimate way to give yourself more time.
A routine is basically a bunch of habits, stacked on top of one another, and then made automatic. These are things that you do, one after another, without fail each day (or work day).
Try This: Make a gotta get done list. Include everything you want to achieve in the morning, and the things you need to check off your list at night. Lay out each task and determine how long it takes you, then order them in a way that makes most sense to you.
Commit to doing things in this fashion every morning and every night for a week. You’ll gain perspective on what works best when, and adjust your routine as needed. Before you know it you’ll have all the responsibilities, all the things that we have to get done in day, set on autopilot, leaving you feeling less stress, and finding more time for the things that matter.
Here’s an example of how I’ve structured my morning routine:
* Wake, take 3 deep breaths, set intention for the day, brisk neck, face and hair rub, drink 1 liter of water = 1min
* Scrape tongue, brush teeth, splach cold water on my face, say 'hey girl, I love you' or something like that in the mirror, eliminate (poop) = 5min
* Exercise = 15min
* Journal/Gratitude practice = 5min
* Freshen up, get dressed = 15min
* Make a green juice, make the kids breakfast, wake the kids = 10min
* Snuggle them, feed them, brush their teeth, dress them = 25min
* Gather our gear and get out the door = 10min
TOTAL TIME = 90min or less
Don’t forget the snuggle time. It’s probably the most important part.
When I first wrote my list/set my intentions for what I wish to accomplish before work each day, it was a bit overwhelming, and felt unattainable. But assigning a window of time for each task (within reason, sometimes the baby wakes up early and then things have to be adjusted for sure), gave me a clear view of what I could reasonably check off in the a.m instead of waiting until after the long work day.
Check it out; by the time I leave for work every day, I’ve already given myself a ton of love through self massage, words of affirmation, exercise, journaling, and starting the day right with a green juice or smoothie! If that’s not a solid reason to create a routine, I don’t know what is!
To do all of these things in the morning doesn’t take long at all. I leave the house feeling filled up, and like I filled up my kids.
Take a Breather.
Especially in the first few weeks when you’re trying to ‘catch up’ on anything you missed while on Mat leave. Reintroducing yourself to the adult world is difficult enough without also having to cram your brains with information overload. Not to mention getting caught up on all the office gossip (if you’re unlucky enough to have those kinds of coworkers). It can feel totally draining.
Try This: Use your lunch break to separate yourself from the noise and the hustle. If you have never been the kind of person who takes lunch breaks, I’m right there with you mama, but you should try it because it’s AMAZING!
Step back, sit down in a quiet space (I go out to my car), and just sit in silence. Let your thoughts float in and out of your head, not holding on to any of them (don’t worry, they’ll all be waiting for you when you return).
This is basically what’s referred to as meditating, but without the stress that comes with the word (agh! I can’t doooo itttt!- said everyone ever). Taking even just a few minutes to yourself to inhale the good and exhale the suck can be a godsend. Get grounded. Center yourself. And dislodge the crankiest of cranky emotions.
Last But Never Least – Do You Girl!
You may have been put on this earth to procreate, but you’re certainly capable of so much more. Your babies are fine mama. You’ve given them a solid foundation, and the time you have with them is well spent.
So when you’re out of the house, WORK IT! Work hard. Have fun, laugh, and talk with your co-worker friends! Feel like yourself again. And feel awesome because you’re an awesome mom and an awesome employee. Killin’ it!