When you waddled out of work to start your maternity leave, you were an expectant mom. So much happens between embarking on maternity leave and returning to work. You now have a little human to take care of, and you are now a working parent.
You will face new challenges as you move from maternity leave to working mom.
Some are emotional, and some are purely logistical. Considering childcare, pickups and drop-offs, time management, expressing at work (if you plan to).
On the emotional side, you will experience a whole new level of mom guilt and a new dimension to your relationship with partner, family, and friends.
You will be better, you will be more focused and more intentional. However, it is essential to acknowledge that moving from maternity leave to working mom will require a different approach.
While on maternity leave, take time for yourself
While you are on maternity leave, ensure that you take downtime for yourself. Even if it is for a few short hours. Go hole up somewhere with a good book, or get your hair done. Whatever helps you feel refreshed.
Prep early for childcare arrangements
Start early preparing your childcare arrangements. If you are hiring a nanny, have a nanny from as early as possible. If you are scouting day-care centres, start soon enough so that you can get your first choice.
If you are planning on hiring a nanny, here are a few useful tips:
- Have your nanny shadow you during your regular daily routine with your baby. Slowly your nanny will get involved and form a bond with your baby.
- Consider training your nanny, there are many awesome programmes which focus on nanny training.
- Establish a flexible routine for your little one and ensure your nanny is fully on board with the routine.
Make your partner a real partner
Bringing a baby into your home will shift the dynamic of the relationship with your partner. As a woman who has the maternity leave, you will at this point, be the primary caregiver. However, there are ways to make your partner a real partner. Think about what makes sense in your environment and if need be have an open discussion.
Here are a few simple ideas:
- Let your partner do his thing. Unless something is drastically wrong, don’t correct him. Encourage him.
- Your partner can bathe the baby at night and take part fully in the bedtime routine.
- Prepare and give bottles at night.
- If you are breastfeeding, your partner can do the wrap up after you have breastfed (e.g., burp, change nappy, put down to sleep).
Do a test run of your situation a week or two before your maternity leave ends.
Start spending short bouts of time away from your baby. One or two hours. Especially if you have a nanny. It will allow:
- Your nanny to build her bond with her baby.
- Your nanny’s confidence will grow.
- Your baby will also get a little use to having you not around.
I know this will be hard to hear. Depending on your work situation, you will be away from your baby up to eight hours a day. Therefore, your baby must develop a strong bond with your nanny.
While on maternity leave start building a gentle routine
Whether you will be home with your baby, or returning to work, creating a healthy, realistic routine will work wonders for you and your baby. A routine can be as simple as implementing a bedtime routine of bath, feed, story, songs, and bed.
Also, keep an eye on your baby’s awake times, as it will assist you to build a sensible routine. Using a Baby Journal to keep track of your baby’s sleep and feeding throughout the day will enable you to build a routine. Plus, it will open up communication between you and your nanny.
Here are a few tips for building a sleep routine:
- Start by practising a calming sleep routine, such as bath, feed, books, song and sleep before bedtime. A shortened version will apply before naptime.
- Check your baby’s sleep space. Is it calm, quiet and dimmed?
- Be realistic about your little one’s sleep needs. There are many resources available on baby sleep and how long a little one can comfortably be awake for. As an example, a newborn can be awake for 45 min and a 6-month-old up to 2 hours before they need to go to sleep.
- Be consistent with your routines for your little one.
- Keep a sleep log/ tracker so you can see your baby’s natural patterns emerge.
Each baby is unique and it is important to watch your baby for signals and see how they respond to their routine.
Own your journey
It is important to take your own time to transition into your new role as a working mom. Do what works for you and you will figure it out.
Cherralle Alexander is a working mom, with a penchant for gorgeous stationery and books. She runs her business With Love Baby SA by night, and by day she works in HR.
With Love Baby SA creates beautiful stationery which serves as tools that help busy moms get more organised. So that you can focus on the moments that matter. In addition, With Love Baby SA runs an active blog which aims to help and inspire parents.
You can find Cherralle at With Love Baby SA