Being a new parent is hard, but heading back to work is even harder.
With a little help, a lot of planning, and our Caregiver Checklist, you can achieve much sought-after balance between professional responsibilities and your home life.
4 weeks before you transition to “Working Mom”:
1. Establish a sleep routine
Babies like being on a schedule. They also learn early that certain patterns mean certain things. Rather than abruptly taking your baby up to bed and calling it a night, put together a sleep routine that encourages relaxation.
- Aim for simplicity. Too many steps make a routine difficult to replicate, and consistency is paramount
- Enjoy the quiet time. Put your phone aside and relish the extra bonding opportunity
- Practice the new routine well before you go back to work. The more settled your baby is, the less anxiety and stress you’ll experience
2. Start planning for feedings
Once you’re back to work, avoid the stress of power pump sessions by planning out how much to pump or how much formula to bring to your caregiver ahead of time.
If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll also want to introduce the bottle; this may take time, and you may need to try several nipples before you find one baby likes.
3. Create a separate nap schedule for weekends
In the same way you like to kick back and relax on weekends, your baby may need those two days off to catch up on sleep and revel in the security of Mom and Dad.
Add in extra naptime and lots of cuddles so everyone is refreshed and ready to go again once Monday rolls back around.
4. Do a practice childcare run
GPS can tell you how far it is from your house to daycare, but no computer program can prepare you for
- Extra tasks like stocking the baby bag
- Mixing formula
- Seeing to extra baby changes (accidents happen!)
- And getting your little one safely strapped into the car seat
Do a trial run or two to see what it really takes to get ready and get out the door, and your first day will be a lot smoother.
5. Get your child care provider in the loop
Your child’s caregiver is now a major piece of the puzzle, and having that person on the same wavelength will go a long way toward harmony and keeping baby happy.
- Start by talking with your child care provider about sleep
- Nail down a nap schedule that works for your little one as well as the daycare or babysitter’s routine (there may a mandated facility schedule you need to consider, for instance).
- Let the caregiver know about your baby’s preference for Zen Sleepwear, and either pack your favorite pieces or purchase doubles to ensure there’s uniformity to the sleep routine whether naps happen at home or elsewhere
- Review the Caregiver Checklist to ensure everyone is on the same page
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 71.5% of women with children under the age of 18 also work. In other words, if you’re preparing yourself to go back to work after having a baby, you’re far from alone.
Be gentle with yourself, know it's OK to have a rough day, and keep to your routine — even if the first few weeks seem impossible, this too shall pass, and you and your baby will settle into your new normal before you know it.