Any article can give you advice on how to prepare yourself for going back to work – how to make lunches, how to establish a morning routine, how to find a daycare, etc.
But what about the feelings? There’s a lot more to going back to work than simply following a list of steps. There are some big emotions to deal with and the first step is knowing what to expect from your heart when you prepare to go back to work.
As big and scary as these feelings may be, they are completely normal and there are always ways to deal with them.
You’ll likely feel anxiety about the changes that are about to happen in your routine. Mornings will become structured and a schedule will have to be adhered to. There may be a worry that you will not be able to prepare everything for the day or the fear that you will be exhausted at the end of it all.
There may be changes that have occurred at work since you’ve been gone that you are not prepared for. New policies may have been put into place or the way in which your job is done may be different now.
You’ll likely also feel anxiety and stress toward balancing work with a family as well as leaving your newborn for most of the day.
While you may have fears about returning to work, there’s an element of excitement as well. After spending months caring full time for your newborn, you will be getting out of the house on your own.
You may feel excited to see your co-workers again or you may simply feel excited to feel like an individual again.
However, you may have some feelings of guilt about leaving your baby and being excited about leaving your baby.
The separation anxiety, the workload, feeling inadequate – it’s all going to fall upon your shoulders and make you feel like you are taking on too much at once.
Feeling bombarded from life can lead to feelings of depression and make you feel unmotivated, tired and cranky all the time.
However, this could be a result of post-partum depression, which a completely normal phenomenon that occurs after giving birth.
How to Deal
#1: Establish a New Routine
Get the stress of mornings out of the way by establishing a new routine a few weeks before you go back to work. This will make things much easier on you and your baby.
Create a new schedule that specifies wake-up time, breakfast, dinner and bedtime. The more you practice this schedule, the more quickly it will become a known routine for your little one.
Establishing a new routine also provides stability and expectation for your little one, so that when you do go back to work and leave them with a caretaker for the day, there is some familiarity present in the rest of their day.
#2: Practice Slow Separation
Leaving your little one with someone else is the hardest part of returning to work. Make this transition easier by practicing slow separation.
Leave your baby in someone else’s care (a parent, partner, best friend) for a couple of hours at a time. Slowly increase this to 4-6 hours until you can comfortably leave your baby with someone else for the entire day.
Starting small means that your child does not have to anticipate your return for very long and will slowly adapt to the length of time as you leave them for longer and longer.
#3: Check in with Yourself
Make sure you deal with the overwhelm of returning to work instead of ignoring it. If you feel like life is getting to be too much, ask for help from your partner, your friend or your family. Be sure to take time for yourself to enjoy things you did before becoming a parent.
#4: Check in with a Health Professional
If you do feel like you are suffering from postpartum depression, do not hesitate to speak with your doctor. This form of depression can be serious if left untreated.