No matter how restful (or not) pregnancy was, many working parents have a tough time getting back into the swing of things. Some parents have a harder time than others making the transition back to their working lives, but even those who are excited to get a little space (which is a totally normal response) can have a harder time than they were expecting when it comes to actually making the switch. It’s a world where everything is basically the same as it was before, except for the huge transformation for the parents returning. Some of that difficulty is just about taking the time to adjust, but for the rest of it, there are a few ideas to try to make the transition a little easier.
Sleep is key
It’s almost impossible to feel happy and confident with any decision when you feel chronically short on sleep, even if it is exactly the right work-home balance for your family. Unfortunately, it’s also almost impossible not to feel short on sleep when you’ve got a baby in the house. Even children who have been adjusting well to sleeping through the night can seem to regress back to their pre-sleeping days in response to the disruption in your family’s routine when you go back to work.
Some families find that transitioning to room-sharing, if you haven’t been already, is a good way both to cut down on time spent on nighttime feeding, and to get a little bit more time with Baby, now that the two of you don’t spend your entire day together anymore. Lowering stress about going back to work can also mean letting go of some of the less urgent household chores for a while as you adjust to being back at work. These might include clean floors, or clean dishes or more clean clothes than exactly what you need to get yourself and Baby through your work-week. You’ll fall into a routine that has the space to include those things again soon, but for now, give yourself the time you’d spend on those chores to sleep – your work and your home life will be better for it.
Learning to let go
There’s certainly nothing wrong with calling your sitter, nanny or daycare provider to make sure Baby is doing alright the first day, or even the first week, after you go back to work. However, making a habit of it could be making it harder for you to focus on your job, which, in turn, could make you feel less positive about your performance at work. This could leave you feeling unsettled even after you’ve gone home for the night. Being able to focus on your job while you’re there can be a key part of making the time you’re home with Baby more positive and productive, even if that means thinking about her less when you’re away from her.
Adding more Baby to your day
On the other hand though, some parents returning to work feel like the sensation of being disconnected from their babies’ lives for so much of the day is the problem. If you work close enough to Baby’s childcare that you can arrange to stop by during your lunch once or twice a week, or even take a day in the middle of the week to work from home, it could be the connection you need as a bridge between your work and home life.
Make the most of what you have
It can be frustrating and disheartening to go from spending most, if not all, of Baby’s waking hours with her to getting back to her just in time to feed her, bathe her, and send her to bed. Consider talking to your childcare provider about transitioning Baby’s last nap before you pick her up to a little bit later in the day, so that she is alert and happy for a little bit longer when you’re home with her.