Returning to work after maternity leave is one of the most daunting seasons of a mother’s life.
Whether the child is 6 weeks or 6 years, both parties will have to contend with different degrees of separation anxiety before a balance is achieved. Preparation is therefore vital to create a seamless transition. Here are some tips to consider:
- Hire dependable childcare: This is possibly THE most important factor in the process. It is advisable to start this process when you are still pregnant as it gives you more time to gauge the caregiver’s character and ability, create a rapport with her and give guidance on how you like things to be done. Introduce your caregiver to your family, your pediatrician, the Mama Mboga and other resources you consider key. Equip her with formal first aid training and let her know the steps she should take in the event of an emergency. On the same note, have a plan B lined up in the event the primary caregiver is not available. Your plan B can include friends, relatives, neighbours, daycare- all trusted by you and your family.
2. Put your baby on a schedule: It is true that babies thrive on routines. The earlier you can get them on a schedule of sorts the better. It makes daily planning, particularly for the caregiver, that much easier.
3. Carry out practice runs: A few weeks before you report to work, spend some time away from your baby to make the actual separation easier to cope with. Start small – 10 minutes – and gradually increase the length of time you are away. A week to my report-back date from maternity leave, I also practiced a back-to-work run that was very close to what my daily routine would generally look like. From these, I selected two random days that I returned home later than usual and a separate day that I returned earlier than expected. This helps in giving everyone a general idea of what works and what may need more fine tuning; and for breastfeeding moms, the milk contingencies to bear in mind.
4. Breastfeeding and work: Experts advise mum to introduce bottle feeding at the 8-week mark. Consider that a good time to start expressing for storage. Some moms begin even earlier than that, to ensure their frozen stash is more than adequate. This really helps when the demands of work wreck havoc on your milk supply and/or expressing sessions. On your first day back from your maternity leave, speak with your supervisors about work options such as flexi-time. Request for time to express milk and try as much as possible to maintain the same timings every day to maintain regular supply. Consider more efficient and faster expressing techniques such as hand expression. This helps you maximize on the amount of time given. At home, let your baby breastfeed for as long as they want to as this encourages bonding and a steady milk supply. Continue to express even over the weekends to increase supply. Always ensure all the items in your expressing bag are cleaned, sterilized and packed the night before.
5. Maintain a positive outlook: You will experience mixed emotions on returning back to work from maternity leave. These range from guilt, worry and sadness to relief and a sense of purpose from going back to work. Either way, there will be an adjustment period. Some days will be better than others. Focus on the positives. Remind yourself why you feel that what you are doing is the right thing for you and your family. Meditate on how your secular work contributes to your family’s stability. Connect with other experienced new mums as they are a great resource.
6. To-do lists: Do not leave anything to assumption; jot down even what you might think mundane or obvious. Weekly plans and schedules for chores and meals are invaluable to help organize yourself and your Employee. Standardize your shopping lists and delegate as much as you can. You can go to our Info Center and download some free guides, which you can customize for your household.
TIP: Put all phone numbers of family members and emergency contact numbers on a document in a central place. Ensure that your Nanny has a working phone, mobile credit and access to these numbers. Keep repeating the obvious reminders, such as to never leave a child unattended and not to allow strangers or her personal visitors into your home.