Going back to work after having a baby is a huge change and can bring up feelings of guilt and anxiety regarding leaving your baby with a caregiver. You may be excited to go back to work and feel horrible for feeling that way! Be kind to yourself as you move through this, these feelings are common and normal. Wanting to work or having to work does not make you a bad parent. Adjusting will take time for the entire family, and work will feel different than it did before you had a baby. You have a full plate, and it will feel better with time.
While returning to work looks different for everyone, here are some things you can do to help you and your baby adjust to the new normal.
- With COVID-19 affecting many offices, you may find yourself working from home. This can bring up feelings of guilt as a parent; you think that because you are home, you should have your baby home with you too! It is okay to have your little one in daycare while you focus on your work. Choosing to try to have your baby around while working could leave you feeling distracted and burned out.
- Sleep is a huge component of transitioning back to work. Your baby will adjust, but it will take a few weeks. For some babies, it can take a full month to fully adjust to their new routine. Think of your baby’s daycare sleep adjustment like a time change or dropping a nap – you are going to have to adjust their sleep schedule for a few weeks until they acclimatize to their new routine. On days your child is in daycare, put them to bed about 30 minutes earlier than you normally would. This is hard because you haven’t seen your baby all day, and want to spend the evening with them, but doing so will make your baby overtired, cranky and make the transition to daycare more challenging. They will soon adjust, and bedtime will return to its usual time. Naps often take time to adjust at daycare and may be shorter than they normally are at home. Things that can help with nap transition at daycare are taking their lovie, sleep sac and/or blanket with them to sleep with. These familiar items will help your baby feel safe and secure during their nap.
- Find mom and dad friends at work. There will be parents who have returned to work after having a baby, seek them out for support. Every parent who has walked through this can empathize and will have suggestions to help make the transition easier.
- Working parents often feel like they need to juggle everything. They must go above and beyond at work, at home, with their children and their partner. This just isn’t the case. You are human, and your load is heavy. Now is likely not the time to jump into an extra project at work, or overtime, and it is okay to communicate clear boundaries on what you are able to do. Same with at home, there is no need for elaborate dinners after work and picking up your baby at daycare. Think simple meals that can be prepared easily.