My wonderful maternity leave came to an end just about three months ago. I had the joy of spending nearly four months with my little guy before starting my journey as a working mom in late August. I was quickly reacquainted with my old working self and had several things that helped me survive those first several weeks.
A few notes about me which directed my needs:
- My baby didn’t and still doesn’t sleep through the night yet (or even close).
- I have not lost all of my pre-pregnancy weight yet.
- I had a long commute to work (although it is significantly shorter now).
- I don’t have to deal with childcare outside of the home (that would be an entirely separate survival kit in my opinion). My mother and mother-in-law stay with Bodhi splitting the week and even covering for each other when needed! Hooray for that!
- I am a fairly sensitive person. I cry. I share my feelings. Things hurt my feeling pretty easily. I’m working on it.
Here was my approach to preparing:
- Tried on clothes and cleaned out my closet.
- Shopped for necessities (lunches, pumping supplies etc…) in advance.
- Shopped for 4 pairs of work pants in my current size and as many shirts as I could get to fit me at my current weight in my budget finding sales.
- Organized my handbag and planner—cleared out all of the clutter.
- Stocked our home—knowing I couldn’t just stroll to Target with Bodhi and our Baby Bjorn anytime to pick up paper towels, cleaning supplies, cat food or body wash, I literally bought double of anything and everything we use on a daily and weekly basis.
- Amazon Mom Subscribe and Save—I put diapers, wipes and other necessities on subscribe and save so I never have to think about remembering diapers at the store. It’s fantastic!
- Wrote up Bodhi’s schedule and emergency information for our wonderful care providers (my mom and my hubby’s mom).
- Practiced our morning routine.
- Kept working on sleep (Bodhi is not a great sleeper at all which means this mama is also not a great sleeper) and our bedtime routine.
- Enjoyed every moment with my baby.
- Printed off a few photos of Bodhi and found a couple of frames to take to work.
- Organized my support network—several close friends who have been through it were on call and ready to provide an ear and any support I needed.
- Told myself over and over to simply take it one day at a time, one hour at a time, one moment at a time.
And my survival guide:
- Coffee (of course)
- Smoothies—like the one posted here, I prepare smoothies at night so that I have a nutritious meal ready every morning. I just do so much better when I’m eating right.
- Music—I created a pleasant/positive radio station on Pandora that I can listen to on my long commute to and from work.
- Lists—I am a huge list maker. I plan to have a list each day for our care providers (grandmas) and lists for groceries, housework, errands and events. Early in my maternity leave I had a list which included laundry (of course) and had 10 circles after laundry. Every time I did a load, I put an “x” on a circle. If I finished 10 in a week, I was a huge success, according to me! ;)
- Preparation—set out clothes at night, keep my closet and accessories space tidy, have smoothies ready for the a.m., clean bottles and any Bodhi needs in the evening after he goes to bed.
- Supportive colleagues—I was lucky to have a few mama-colleagues who were supportive when needed. I had lunch with many of them before my leave to discuss the challenges of being a working mom. I scheduled lunches with each of them when I returned.
- Friends at the ready—one of my girlfriends, as I talked about going back to work at her home recently, instantly said “I’ll be at my desk ALL day.” I knew what this meant. I could e-mail, call, facebook message or text message her and would have support in an instant. She also recently went back to work so was able to relate to any feelings I was having.
- Vacation days—I saved a few vacation days (rather than getting paid for maternity leave) for mental health days, baby snuggling days, baby sick days, mama sick days or just needing a day off.
- My hubby—he is and was my rock! He helped me work through many challenges during those first few weeks as we once again adjusted to our new normal.
- Exercise—while I can’t hit the gym for hours a day, my husband and I had (before Winter) a pretty fabulous walking routine down with our baby and we have a treadmill. Exercise always eases stress for me.
- Live in the moment and be kind to YOU—Don’t worry about all of the challenges, when you’ll finally get to clean your house or anything else those first few weeks. Just do what feels right for you. If that means skipping the dishes and going to bed earlier one night or if that means indulging in a movie and a some decadent snack, do it! Give yourself a break. Be kind to YOU, yes you, for once!
- And if all else fails, I have a can (yes, a can—classy, I know!) of Sofia Coppola sparkling wine in my fridge—the best stuff ever and you can’t overindulge because it’s not a bottle! Have you tried it? It’s a single serving size, so perfect for those evenings when I simply need a nice glass of bubbly to wind down! p.s. I didn’t need it. Ever. I actually had my first glass at home last night, several months later.
- For me, it got so much better after a week. The first few days were really hard. I cried a lot. I felt like an outsider for a while, having missed several months at the office, but that too improved.
- Although leaving your baby can feel like the worst thing in the world when you first do it after a maternity leave, coming home to a happy smiling baby each night is the best! I enjoy every moment with my little man when I’m not working.
- Being a working mom really does become your new normal and eventually, yes, it feels pretty normal.
- Other mamas are the best support network in the world. I’m a part of several Facebook moms groups and they provide a ton of needed advice and support. Find your support network, whatever and whoever it may be.