Returning to work after having a child causes a whirlwind of emotions. Fear, anxiety, stress mixed in with a new mother’s already raging hormones can be a recipe for disaster. There are ways however that both the company and employee can help make this transition go as smoothly as possible.
Most new mothers around the world have a chance to meet their new baby and spend weeks with them before having to return to work. Yet in the US, most companies don’t offer any kind of paid time off for childbirth. If you happen to work for a company that does offer paid maternity leave, count your blessings. If you don’t, the best you can do is hope that you qualify for FMLA. It’s unpaid but holds your job for 12 weeks, though you have to meet certain qualifications stated here on The Department of Labor’s website:
To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must work for a covered employer and:
- have worked for that employer for at least 12 months; and
- have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of the FMLA leave; and,
- work at a location where at least 50 employees are employed at the location or within 75 miles of the location.
I won’t even get started on a father’s rights to spend time with his wife and new child because they don’t exist. While there is some solace in having work to go back to, many families don’t have the ability to go without their wife’s income for 12 weeks. Some women will return to work just 3 weeks after giving birth. So how can companies and employees work together to make sure that returning from maternity leave goes off without a hitch? Do you know your rights as an employee? All of these things are important.
I’m currently sitting at 31 weeks pregnant and have been researching and reading everything pregnancy related since that fancy little digital window on my home test said “YES+”. I’m now a font of random pre/postnatal information. Returning to work really piqued my interest because my husband and I both agreed I will need to find a job as soon as physically possible. Do I wish that I could be a stay at home mother? Sure, but I’m realistic like many other mothers out there. So here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way that can help you when returning to work after maternity leave.
1. You will have a new routine. Get used to it. Know it. Love it.
This is the thing that I’m most worried about. My current routine is rolling out of bed, down the stairs, and up to the coffee machine where I sit and wait for my morning to begin. With a baby, your mornings will begin with shrieks at unholy hours until they settle into a feeding routine (hopefully) after a few months. The best you can do is plan for your days as they are right now, including those feedings every 3 hours. Babies require schedules just as much as you do!
2. Stock up before you go back.
So you have loads of boxes of diapers for when baby is much bigger and are wondering if it was necessary to buy out the store when they were on sale? Maybe you have a stash of wipes worthy of a global disaster. It doesn’t matter. All of that is stuff you won’t have to get down the line, freeing up time for future you. Future you will love you for it. Stock up on everything you currently use and think you might use.
3. Meal prep is life.
Feeding yourself or your significant other will literally be the last thing on your mind, especially after returning to work. You’ll be exhausted. Who wants to then stand at a stove for longer than it takes to make a package of Ramen? Except don’t eat that stuff, it’s horrible for you. Use Sundays to create meal plans and precook as much as you can. Not only will this combat some of your daily fatigue but can also help you if you’re trying to lose some of the baby fat.