Women’s Post Contributor Liesl Jurock is a writer, a career educator, and a mama.  

You’ve spent the last year devoted to your new little one. Maybe you’ve been in maternal bliss, enjoying every moment of the dreamy rhythm of motherhood. Or maybe you’d welcome some intellectual challenges again. Either way, your maternity leave is up and you’re not sure how to get ready for the grind. Here are some tips to prep for the big change:

Start transitioning early.Whether it’s daycare, your in-laws, or Daddy who’s going to take on caregiving while you’re at work, it’s a good idea to start practicing for both your sakes. Your child will certainly need to adjust to changes to routine, care, and being without you, but so will you. Leaving your child for a short time and building up over a period of two weeks to a month will allow you to focus on their transition before having to deal with your own.

Prep for the power struggles. If you’ve been the primary caretaker over the past year, letting go of all the decision-making and responsibilities may not be easy. Although you might feel like you know how to take care of your child best and want to coordinate every detail, you have no choice but to allow others to figure out what will work for them. While power struggles may ensue, you likely all have your child’s best interest at heart, so try to establish some open communication around their care that can continue once you are back at work.

Outsource responsibilities. You don’t have to be supermom and do it all. Whether it’s calling a maid service to clean your bathrooms or arranging for Grandma to cook dinner once a week, it’s okay to get a little help if you can. Your free time is limited now and it’s reasonable to want to spend whenever you have with your little one. You may prefer being in control of everything, but if you can get or pay for support once in a while so you don’t burn out, do it.

Explore your options. If you really can’t imagine being away from Junior as much as you used to, see what you can do about it. Some organizations will allow mothers to take additional unpaid leaves as they already have a trained staff person in place to cover the position. Flexible schedules, working-from-home partially, or taking a pay cut for fewer hours or less responsibilities are also possibilities.

Of course, you may feel conflicting thoughts and a great deal of anxiety about the upcoming transition because your life is very different now than when you left. Do what you can to minimize the worry and prepare ahead of time, but realize that you won’t truly be able to imagine what it will feel like or how it will all work until you are doing it. So, enjoy the final days of maternity leave and then give yourself and your family time to adjust.

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