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Preparing to return to work after parental leave

Returning to work after parental leave is harder than you might think. It’s emotional, it’s scary, and like having a baby, you won’t know how it actually feels until you’re in the middle of it. You will have spent the first few months bonding with and caring for your baby without the demands of work, then suddenly you’re back to your old life sitting at a desk, writing emails and juggling meetings all day. I’ll never forget when I first returned to work and the moment I realized that my job entailed talking on the phone, reading and writing emails all day, and how mundane it felt after creating a new life!

Why is a Return to Work Plan important for your growing family?

There are so many new things to consider when you’re heading back to work, you won’t think of everything unless you do a bit of advance planning. I’ll call it the Return to Work Plan! If you’re anything like me, you’ll want all the things you’ll need in place before your first week back. You’ll need childcare. If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll need to pump. If you want to negotiate more time working from home, you’ll need to have that conversation. The list goes on!

 

What to include in your Return to Work Plan

First thing’s first – childcare. Nanny or daycare? There are benefits for both, but daycare waiting lists can be long so look into that first if you’re considering daycare. Breastfeeding? You’ll need a pump, all the attachments, storage bags and some pumping wipes. Baby not sleeping through the night or on a solid nap/feed schedule? You definitely need a plan to address that, and we can help! How about your wardrobe? My prematernity clothes never fit again so consider buying new professional clothes before you return to work. There’s much, more to plan so I’ll elaborate on a few things. 

Sleep training

I did some research recently and found that on average parents lose over 1,100 in their baby’s first year of life. The few winks of sleep that new parents do get are broken. Sometimes they’re awakened every 45 minutes by a crying baby, which is torture! Parents often tell me that they’re also stuck in the nursery giving contact naps because they can’t put their baby down, or they just won’t sleep for more than 30 minutes. You can’t do this and work at the same time. And if you’re tired just thinking about this, imagine it from your baby’s perspective. They need sleep to grow and thrive. Babies need uninterrupted sleep for brain and physical development, ideally 11-12 hours of continuous sleep per night. You need time to enjoy evenings with your partner and you need sleep to function as a parent and excel in your career. 

Sleep training with our support will solve all of that. Bonus gift: We’ll get your baby into an ideal feed/nap schedule, too! If you’re ready for sleep training support, in your home with a 100% success rate, reach out to us

Childcare

Finding the best childcare for your precious little one is one of the most important things you must do while you’re on parental leave. Depending on where you live, daycare may be a better option than it was for me. (I live in NYC where daycares are oversold and nannies are readily available.) 

The advantage of daycare is that your child won’t just have one caretaker who might call in sick, or may not be the most attentive, and your child will be socialized at an early age. The downside of daycare is that your baby will frequently be sick in the first few years so you will need to have back-up childcare if you can’t take time off work to be with a sick baby. Another disadvantage of daycare is that you’ll have to pack BOTH of you up when you leave for work. You’ll need an extra set of clothes for your baby and any milk, formula and/or food they’ll need for the day. It doesn’t sound like much but it is infinitely harder to get out of the door with a baby in tow, especially if you live in a hot or cold place where you have to commute. (Think layers and hats and mittens and sunscreen and car seat or stroller.) 

The benefit of a nanny is that they will come to your home. There’s no packing anyone else but yourself up to get out the door. In the evening, you can decide if you want your baby bathed and ready for bed when you return so you have less “work” to do and can enjoy more time just hanging out with your baby. But of course, nannies can get sick too, so you will have to call out of work on those days or find back-up childcare.

 

 

Stay engaged at work — even through sleep regressions.

Having a good understanding of sleep regressions can help you plan ahead after you’ve returned to work. Dive into our Guide to Sleep Regression to learn:

 

✔ What sleep regression is
✔ Causes and triggers of sleep regressions
✔ How to cope with sleep regression
✔ How to manage (or avoid) sleep regressions with baby sleep training

 

Sleep Regression Guide

 

 

Work-Life Balance

How are you going to juggle it all? First, know that no matter how hard you find your new working parent life, you will survive. It’s not going to be easy but there are tips and tricks to make your return to work easier and you will find your balance. 

The first thing you need to do to start balancing work and your new life is to plan your return to work date strategically. Don’t plan to return on a Monday with a whole week ahead of you. Instead, plan to return on a Thursday or Friday so you can get your toes wet before returning for a full week. Get your childcare lined up and practice packing up everything you need the night before your first day back. Do a trial run like you’re pretending to go to work at 8am on a day when you’re not really working. Get yourself and your baby dressed, pack up your lunch and pumping equipment, and leave the house to go do something for yourself. Whether it’s going to the gym or a yoga class or just getting a pedicure. Leave your home like you’re going to work. Practice this a couple of times before you have to go to work. Let your nanny or daycare take care of your baby while you’re taking care of you! 

Reconnecting with Coworkers

While you’ve been on leave, things have probably changed a bit at work. Some colleagues may have left, new hires may be there, and maybe you’re all caught up on LinkedIn but you should plan a night out with colleagues to reconnect before your parental leave ends to hear what’s been going on, what new projects everyone’s working on, and get ahead of some of the goings-on in your workplace. So why not reach out to your colleagues and plan a happy hour outing before you return? It will be GOOD for you to get out of the house and mingle with adult people, so go for it!

Flexible Schedule Requests

You probably didn’t have this conversation with your boss before you left for parental leave, but if you want your working hours or work location to change (i.e. hybrid or work-from-home), you absolutely want to have that conversation with your boss before you return to work. You can use the opportunity to tell your boss how excited you are to return (even if it’s not true!). Show your commitment to your role, and ask for what you want/need when you return. In the worst-case scenario, you won’t get what you want. But if you have a great boss and you make a great case for why you should be able to work from home or on a hybrid schedule, you might get exactly the support you need to have a better work-life balance. So go ahead, schedule that meeting, and make your requests!

Lactation/Pumping Needs

If your Return to Work Plan includes breastfeeding and pumping, you’ll need to have a place to pump and store your milk. Legally, your employer has to have a designated private area where you can pump. Talk to HR or your boss about this in advance if there’s no designated pumping room in your office so you can express your concerns and help them find a solution. You should absolutely not be pumping in the bathroom (sobbing) like I did in the early aughts! Get yourself a good quality pump, start storing milk in the freezer while you’re on leave, and buy every nipple cream you can find because honestly, siphoning milk out of your boobs hurts!

 

Get a Customized Return to Work Plan!

With our in-home sleep training support, we help babies and parents sleep through the night in as little as 3-4 days. A Mommywise Coach will come to your home and help you get to know your baby, teach you to understand their cues, show you how to meet all of their needs and help ease your return to work with a plan. She will help you streamline your chaotic days into a predictable feed/nap schedule (which you can then pass to other caregivers), teach you insider tricks, and give you all the tools you need to ensure that your baby is a great sleeper, forever, so that you can return to work feeling rested and confident. Contact us today if you’re ready to return to work and need support with a customized plan!

 

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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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