In the same way that you constantly protect and provide for Baby, you’ve also got to take good care of yourself. One way you can do this is by learning to encourage and motivate yourself in any situation – even the really hard ones.
This sort of motivation is extra important for you to have when you return to work. There will be times when you’re the only person available to give yourself the pep talk that you need to get through a particularly tough part of the day. So what to do when you need to be your own motivational speaker? Here are five little friendly reminders to keep in mind as you return to work.
It may be hard to leave Baby
Even in the absolute best of circumstances, moms can struggle when parting with their young child and heading off to work. Some compare it to feeling like they’ve left a physical limb at home, and many others say it’s even a bit physically painful. The good news is that Baby is well-cared-for and nurtured, and working has no impact on Baby’s attachment to you as her mom.
To help make this transition as painless as possible, before you go back to work, take a few days to let Baby try out the childcare situation that you’ve arranged. Giving it a trial run will make you feel more prepared, more confident in your ability to manage childcare schedules and work schedules, and (hopefully) even a bit more comfortable leaving Baby with the (very qualified) caregivers you’ve chosen for her.
Then again, you may be really looking forward to going back to work! Many women anticipate their return with a lot of excitement and quite enjoy being back at work again. You may find it reenergizing and intellectually stimulating to be back among your work community after your baby’s arrival. You may even find yourself so engaged at work that you aren’t thinking about your baby while you’re there. If so, that’s okay! This is also a normal part of re-entry.
Work may feel weird at first
After the momentous occasion that is bringing a baby into the world, it could take a little while for you to readjust back into your old workday routine. Your office might seem foreign. You might struggle to make conversation. Your work responsibilities may have shifted slightly. You might find yourself staring at other people out in the world – on the train, in line at the grocery store, walking down a busy street – wondering if they’re parents too, and if so, what it’s like for them and how they’re managing. The strange, alien-like haze you might find yourself in? It’s normal, so just roll with it.
The only thing that matters is what’s right for you and your family
Once you’re a parent – and sometimes even as early as when you’re expecting – you’ll quickly find that everyone has an opinion about what you should and shouldn’t be doing for yourself and your family. This advice usually comes from a well-meaning place, and sometimes you’ll find that it’s advice you’re actually glad to have received. But it’s very easy to get bogged down with excessive opinions and lose sight of your own priorities. So instead of living your life exactly as others think you should, consider the experiences and examples shared with you, but then ask yourself, “What’s right for us?”
Your support network is key
This can be a challenging time of transition in your life. And parenting can often feel lonely in the first few months, as if you’re the only person going through it. So it really helps to lean on your support network for help and – you guessed it – support during this time.
Keep in mind that you probably have even more people that you can reach out to than you realize. Your parents will jump for joy when you ask them for advice. Word-of-mouth through friends and friends-of-friends can help you find reliable childcare. And moms’ groups and online parenting communities would be happy to have you join their ranks if you want more friends who are dealing with the same joys and struggles that you are. Support can even be found at work. Really, there is a whole club of other working parents out there, and you’ve now gained membership into that club – so don’t hesitate to use it!
You just have to reach out and ask for support, which is really never as far off as it seems.
You’ll surprise yourself
You might not believe this right now, but it’s true: once Baby arrives and you’re back at work, you’ll continuously be surprised by just what and how much you can handle. After becoming a mom, you’ll likely find yourself to be far more efficient at work – better able to prioritize, micro-manage less, and focus more – and you’ll now have the added benefit of an enriched perspective as a result of all your amazing experience as a mother. There’s a lot that will positively surprise you!
Remember that any growing pains you experience during this period of transition are just that – they’ll pass in time and are totally normal. So be proud of yourself for setting up the life that you’re living right now. If you can do everything it took for you to get here – and that’s no easy feat – then you’re certainly capable of enjoying all the good times that will be a part of these first few months back and of doing what you need to do to push through any temporarily tough ones.