Reframing the Return to Work

We have heard many parents, mothers especially, lament having to go back to work as early as they do. They don’t feel prepared emotionally, mentally, and sometimes physically. We have heard this from parents who have to return at 6 weeks and 6 months. It seems that the time frame makes less of a difference than the frame of mind.

What can you do to help reframe your thinking so that you are prepared to return to work?

Create a strong partnership at home - Often one parent has spent a much longer time at home with the baby before returning to work than the other. Think of the classic scenario of Dad taking 2 weeks and Mom taking 12. In this dynamic, you may find that one parent has fallen into the role of “primary parent”. When both parents are back to work, the balance of work needs to shift to enable both to be supportive partners to each other.

Build trust with your child’s caretaker - two weeks before returning have your baby go 2 days a week, and then 3 days a week before jumping in full-time. This will give you a chance to practice drop-off/pick-up, get to know the provider, and deal with any adjustments your child may need. You may find your morning routine needs to be tweaked, maybe your baby’s sleep is affected. If you are breastfeeding, practice pumping on the same schedule you would at work. As a bonus, you can use this time for yourself. Look at your self-care - what has been lacking? How can you step that up?

Ignite your excitement for work or your workplace. Spend some time remembering what you love about work. This could be a new project, a chance to exercise your brain in ways that you haven’t for a few months, a return to coworkers who are more friends than colleagues, or maybe you simply want to have lunch with two free hands.