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Myths and Misconceptions of Returning to Work After Parental Leave

I won’t lie, returning to work after maternity or parental leave is hard. You’ll be juggling childcare, professional and personal life, and your relationship may feel strained. This is all normal in the beginning when you first return to work, but it does get easier! In this piece I’ll share some common myths and misconceptions about returning to work after parental leave, and how you can set yourself up for success. 

 

 

Understanding the challenges (and rewards) of returning to work after parental leave

While there are many challenges when trying to find your “Work-Life Balance”, there are some benefits. Let’s face it, life with a newborn is pretty repetitive, boring, and often lonely. If you’ve been breastfeeding, you may worry about how you’re going to continue after you return to work. Or if you’re bottle feeding, you may worry about how other caretakers are going to get your baby to eat while you’re away. You may worry about failing at everything, but remember, you’re not. When you return to work, you’re just adjusting to a new normal and you CAN find Work-Life-Balance as a parent. The main benefits of returning to work are that you’ll be able to use your brain again, and you’ll have adult company which is vital after you have a baby. It’s also nice to go to the bathroom or eat lunch whenever you want!

 

Common misconceptions about new parents returning to work

There are many common misconceptions about returning to work after maternity or parental leave, and I’ll share with you the top ones that come to mind!

 

We won’t bond with baby as well

You’ve spent your maternity/parental leave bonding with your baby. You’ve spent countless hours feeding, bouncing, rocking, loving on your baby and establishing your bond. And here’s what you must believe: Your bond is not so fragile! All those weeks you’ve spent bonding with your baby have built bonding “equity” in your relationship. You won’t lose your bond by returning to work. Your baby will be FINE with another caregiver and pinky-promise, they won’t miss you when you’re not there! 

 

Think about it. Your baby is limited to short-term memory. They remember as far as peek-a-boo, that’s it. They see you, then you’re gone for a second, then you’re back! Yay!! They’re not wearing a watch while you’re at work, wondering when you’re coming back. They’ll be happy to see you when you return, and as much as you’ll miss them while you’re gone, your baby won’t miss you! They’ll just be playing and being cared for by another human or humans, and that’s OK.

 

Breastfeeding and pumping is impossible

Breastfeeding and pumping IS challenging, but it is possible. Unless you have milk supply issues, chances are your supply won’t dry up when you return to work – your boobs will adjust to your new lifestyle! Look at photos of your baby when you’re pumping to get the milk flowing. Do your best to maintain a breastfeeding relationship in the mornings and evenings, and trust that your baby will get enough food during the day. If you do have supply issues, give yourself permission to supplement with formula, or switch to exclusive formula feeding. Formula is NOT bad, and here at Mommywise, while we 100% support breastfeeding, we believe that Fed is Best. Your baby will thrive no matter how you feed them!

 

Baby brain will go away

Baby brain is for real. When I had a newborn, I can’t tell you the number of times I threw my phone in the garbage or forgot who I was calling after dialing the numbers! You might think that once your baby is sleeping through the night and you’re back at work that your brain cells will be functioning normally. Alas, you may still be foggy for a while, maybe for a whole year! Give yourself some grace here. Tell your colleagues that your brain is a little slower than normal if that feels comfortable for you. You’re not going to be 100% just because you’re back in the office, and that’s OK. Most people will understand (and forget about the people who don’t, they just don’t get it)!

 

Leaving baby with another caregiver will be impossible

Leaving your baby in someone else’s care will be challenging, but not impossible! I personally believe that there can never be too many people to love on my kids. It’s important for your baby to develop relationships with other people so that you can get a break, and they can learn to trust and enjoy other relationships. I was personally very conflicted about returning to work because on the one hand, I loved my job and felt lonely as a new mom so I was excited to get back to my pre-baby routine, but I also felt super sad about missing time with my littles. I learned to trust our nanny (who still adores my kids and has a relationship with them in their teens!), and I learned to focus on work when at work and home when at home. I found my Work-Life Balance, and was really happy when I got into the swing of it.

 

We won’t have time for our relationship(s)

OK so this is a challenging one but you CAN have successful relationships after you return to work. You will just need to put them on your priority list. Date nights (or day dates!) with your partner are vital to survive parenthood with an intact romantic relationship. And you will feel better if you work to maintain your personal relationships with your friends and family. Make time for them. Take turns going out in the evenings with your friends. If you don’t want to miss out on time with your baby, come home from work, put your baby to bed, then go out for 1-2 drinks and you can still be in bed by 10pm!

 

I’ll have more energy when I get back in my “pre-baby” routine

Here’s where you may need to adjust your expectations. It’s a lot of work having a new baby. It takes a lot of energy being caregivers to a helpless newborn. When you return to work, you’ll have a lot more on your plate and will find it challenging to build in time for exercise and things that energize you. Instead, you may feel drained and like you’re “failing” at everything because you just don’t have time for all the things you used to. Give yourself permission to veg out on Netflix binges and go to sleep at 9pm. Say no to things that don’t bring you joy and satisfaction and focus on rest and recovery for yourself. It will take time but you’ll get there!

 

Work-Life Balance is easy to achieve

While it is possible, a healthy Work-Life Balance isn’t easy to achieve. You have to prioritize your work, self-care, and your relationships while juggling managing a household. It’s a lot. But with diligence and grace, you CAN find a good Work-Life Balance. I am living proof. I worked a demanding job as a Sales Director in luxury travel when I had my firstborn (and 2nd baby within 2 years). I had to travel internationally quite a lot, and I did feel like I was failing at everything for a while, but I learned to trust my partner and nanny to take care of the kids while I was working, and I learned how to enjoy being fully present with my family when I was home. I developed Mommywise when my kids were little, and by the time they were in middle school, I had more flexibility to be around after school. That’s honestly when your kids will need you the most, and the part of parenting I found the most rewarding. I never loved changing diapers and the toddler years. LOL

 

Sleep training to assist your transition back to work

If your baby isn’t sleeping through the night by the time you return to work, your transition will be extra challenging. You’ll be juggling all the things on no little to no sleep. Your brain fog will feel more like being intoxicated, and your judgment will be impaired. 

 

If you’re open to sleep training, your baby can sleep through the night in as little as 3-4 days with our support. We often help parents transition back to work after parental leave and get babies sleep trained at the same time. We help parents get into a good feed/nap schedule which can then be implemented by other caregivers, and get YOU sleeping so that you can go back to work feeling rested, knowing that your little one is getting the sleep they need for growth and development. 

 

Learn more about our In-Home Sleep Training Services to help you transition back to work more smoothly!

 

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Natalie Nevares

Natalie Nevares

As Mommywise Founder, my mission is to help families grow and thrive, provide sustainable income for women and mothers, raise awareness about postpartum mood disorders, and make treatment more accessible. As a mentor and parent, my mission is to role-model a strong woman, parent, and leader who endeavors to leave a legacy of positive change through service and humility.

Natalie Nevares

Natalie Nevares

As Mommywise Founder, my mission is to help families grow and thrive, provide sustainable income for women and mothers, raise awareness about postpartum mood disorders, and make treatment more accessible. As a mentor and parent, my mission is to role-model a strong woman, parent, and leader who endeavors to leave a legacy of positive change through service and humility.

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