Maternity leave is a beautiful time of bonding with your baby. Companies have different policies on how much time parents get off. Unfortunately, generally, maternity leave does not last for very long. Eventually, you have to go back to work and balance your life. It might seem like a big task at first, but if you have a plan, you can find that balance.
Before you actually have to go back to work, put a plan in place of how you will run things. You will want to write the plan down and do a few practice runs while you are home. You need your mornings and evenings to have some kind of flow to them. This is the only way you will remain sane.
It is also important for kids to know what to expect at what time. By being able to prepare properly, you can, for example, eat dinner at the same time every day. This creates beautiful structure to your day.
Pack baby's bag and place it by the door.
Prepare lunch for the next day.
Set out clothes the night before.
Gather all important paperwork and pack your work bag.
Get out of bed at a good time (no snoozing).
Shower, do your makeup and hair before the baby wakes up, if possible.
Only get dressed after your baby is ready and fed. You don't want any spills on your clothes before it's time to go.
Do whatever works for you and your home but don't just wing it.
Manage mommy guilt
When you have to leave your little baby and head back to work, you may experience some guilt. This is a normal experience for most mothers. It is important in these moments to remind yourself why you are doing this. Without a job, would you be able to provide for your family? How happy would you be if you never go back to work?
Do some letter writing to a friend to help you get your emotions out. Even letter writing for kids is something you can do. Although your baby cannot read yet, pretend that he/she can. It does not have to be professional letter, but just something to get all of those emotions out of your system.
By having a routine in place, you might have better days than without a plan. If your mornings are rushed and chaotic, you are setting yourself up for a lot of internal questioning. Prevent this by following your plan to a tee. Ask for help if you are feeling overwhelmed. Don't try and be superwoman right now. There will come a time when all will fall into place but in the beginning, give yourself some grace.
Make time for yourself
Things might be stressful in the beginning but you have to make time for yourself. If you are not taking care of yourself, everything around you will seem like a disaster. Manage your stress levels as much as you can. I am not suggesting regular visits to the spa but there are little things you can do help manage your stress.
Eat a balanced diet and find time to be active. You don't want to be feeling sluggish when there is already so much on your plate. If you are taking care of yourself, you are better able to take care of the rest of your family members. Even with limited time on your hands, you can still have a healthy lifestyle.
Workout a menu for the week. This will eliminate random trips to the bakery or takeout joints. Pack your lunch and bring it to work. This way you have more control of what goes into your body.
The same goes for being more active. Take your baby in a stroller to the park or do a quick workout in the morning. If you look good, then you feel good and feeling good is very important at this stage of your life.
Remember, no mother feels like they are doing a perfect job at raising her kids. We all have doubts and fears because it comes from a place of love. Of course, you are doing the best you can and sometimes the best is to go back to work. At some point we need to get back into the real world and that's okay. Prepare yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. No one ever said parenting is easy, but you are doing what works for you and your family. Hang in there! It gets better with time.