As maternity leave comes to an end, panic mounts. Deep breath, friend! Here are the steps you need to take to prepare for the return to the office.
Spoiler alert: we recommend taking these steps in new shoes!
First step: Leave the house without your baby.
Mama-baby separation might feel impossible during maternity leave when your baby is basically attached to you 24/7, but practice makes it feel (slightly) better.
We recommend setting up dry run sessions with your childcare provider prior to heading back to work, so you can emotionally and logistically prepare for the separation. Leave the house; you can do it. Not only is it good practice for you, the sessions can help set your baby and caretaker up for success by giving them time to bond and figure things out on their own before the big day.
While you’re away, have the caretaker send you updates and pictures of the little one so you feel like you’re a part of their day or activities. Time will seem to go faster if you’re not anxious about what’s going on at home, and (trust us!), before you know it, you’ll be wrapping up your activities and rushing back to cuddle with your little one.
Pro tip: look at pictures and videos while you pump; they can help with your emotions AND your letdown (#winning!).
Do something for you (finally!).
Take advantage of the alone time during caretaker practice sessions to do whatever the heck you like. Take a walk in the woods (solace!), treat yourself to a shopping trip (new shoes!), a salon visit (cover those grays!), a session at the spa (your achin’ back!) or whatever it takes to revisit the part of you that existed before you became a mom. Hint: she’s still in there and she’s still awesome.
Also consider your sleep patterns as you head back into the working world. Can you help your baby overcome any sleep associations such as needing to be nursed to sleep or revisit nighttime feeding duties with your partner? If it feels okay to create new sleep routines for your little one before you return to work, you’ll be thankful for every additional hour of sleep you achieve. Alternatively, if the sleep situation isn’t looking promising, then make sure you lay in a supply of coffee to fuel you out the door.
Note that your special time shouldn’t be confined to pre-work childcare practice sessions. Some ladies swear by planning a vacation day or two after your return to work to have something fun to look forward to. Of course you’re all in on taking care of another human but don’t forget to take care of yourself, too.
Dress the part
We know that clothes do not make the woman, but we also know that ill-fitting or uncomfortable clothes can eat away at your confidence. Your body has done absolutely amazing stunts in the past few months; make sure you adorn it in clothing that properly respects its recent past.
We recommend a brutally honest try-on session in your closet. You may (or may not!) be post-maternity clothes but perhaps your favorite old dresses still don’t zip. Perhaps things have shifted in ways you didn’t anticipate (no one ever does!) or, maybe you fit into all your old clothes (go, you!) but none of them are breastfeeding/pumping-friendly. Whatever the issue, make an honest assessment about the work-ready clothes you currently have and make a list of what you need to complete a few work outfits that will make you feel amazing. You don’t need to break the bank on your transitional pieces; buy, thrift, or borrow… but do make sure that you can stand tall, proud, and comfortably in your new office attire.