Going Back to Work After Baby
Going Back to Work after a Baby
So your baby has been out for about six months now, and the maternity leave is coming to an end. As the prospect of going back to work looms ahead, you might wonder… Are you really cut out for this? Being a working parent is hard, but moms are dealt the “mommy guilt” card very often. Nobody thinks to question a male parent on how life is after a baby or whether returning to work is the correct option but after the baby is out, that’s all a female parent gets.
But going back to work need not be as hard as you think, if you plan ahead along with your partner. Here are a few pointers from us, at The Nestery, on how you can make your getting back to work easy on you and your baby.
Map out child care options and get the child settled with caregiver at home or daycare.
This is probably the biggest item on your list that needs to be checked off as early as possible. Your baby needs to get to know their caregiver and the caregiver too needs to be given enough time with the baby to know those seemingly little details that make all the difference – feeding, sleeping habits and routines of the child. Handover baby to the caregiver a few weeks earlier so that they find their own routine, while you catch up on much needed rest.
While selecting a day care, a few pointers to look out for are open spaces for the child, a low child care ratio, closed circuit cameras, accommodation of special requirements like cloth diapering, child food allergies, etc., low or no TV or media usage for entertainment and medical emergency handling protocols. The Government of India, under the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act 2017 has made it mandatory for every establishment employing 50 or more employees to provide a crèche facility, so also enquire with your HR on availing this benefit if your establishment employs the stipulated number of employees. Either way, choose a day care that is close to your/spouse’s office for easy drop offs and pickups. Keep in mind the closing time of the day care if you are choosing one close to your home.
If you are choosing to leave the baby with a caregiver at home, hire them at least a month ahead of your joining date. Install CCTVs at home discretely and leave the caretaker alone with your baby for a few hours – let them get used to the routine. Lay the ground rules earlier – advance notice for any unplanned leaves, planned leaves to be decided at the beginning of the month, phone usage while with the baby to be avoided except in case of emergency, work for when the baby sleeps, etc,. Everyone has a different idea of what is negotiable and what is not, so plan this out with your spouse before you discuss with the nanny.
Starting pumping breast-milk.
If you are nursing your child, you would need to start building a stash of pumped milk in the freezer for the baby’s feeds in your absence. Starting pumping a month ahead of the joining date will ensure you have a stash to fall back on in your absence. Power pumping also helps because it helps to mimic cluster feeding babies and increases the yield of pumped milk. Most pumping parents use a double electric pump that lets them pump hands-free. Let the caregiver start giving the feeds in a bottle to get the child used to the bottle. Use slow flow nipples to mimic the flow of breast milk. Some babies resist the bottle in which case, an open cup is also a viable option.
Planning pumping sessions at work.
Once you figure out your pumping schedules at home, you will need to work out a pumping schedule for work too. Speak to your boss on breaks for pumping and also for a private space with a sink and a fridge, without closed circuit cameras to pump in. Maternity Benefit Amendment Act 2017 of India allows for nursing breaks when you join work, so utilize it for pumping if direct nursing isn’t possible. We especially like this article on planning pumping sessions at work - https://www.breastfeedingbasics.com/articles/returning-to-work .
Picture credit - https://lactationmatters.org/2012/05/17/pumping-strategies-for-the-working-mother/
Plan out your routine before the big day and do a few practice runs to get it down pat.
Routines always work with kids and adults to settle them down better. A week or so ahead of the joining date would be a good time to start being absent when it is work time and getting back to your child around the time of end of the work day. Kids thrive on routine!
The Good Bye routine.
Make time for new parent friends during weekends.
While you were on maternity leave, you would have probably interacted and formed friendships with a few new parent friends. Hang on to these! While your old friends will definitely be around, it always helps to have friends going through the same situation as you are to vent out to. A few play dates won’t hurt either when you need to keep your child occupied during weekends!
Plan for the week ahead after joining work.
Keep aside time on weekends for meal planning, grocery shopping and cleaning. A little bit of time set aside for these routine chores on the weekend will go a long way in easing and freeing the weekdays for some downtime with the baby. Remember that the time spent in the morning deciding what to make results in “decision paralysis” – bring some method to the madness by planning meals and grocery shopping according to the meal plan.
Keep persevering at work.
Stick to the routine for a few months and see if it works out for you, else speak to your boss about working from home or cutting back on working hours by working part-time. You will need some time to find a healthy balance when it comes to work and home, because of your new role as a parent. Children are very resilient and will soon start taking pride in your work. Remember, a happy parent will make way for a happy child.
Working from home.
Work through the thought of quitting.
There will be days when you will want to just throw the towel in and quit, especially when the baby is sick and you still have to head to office. But, hang in there! Your priorities have changed due to the new member of your family and that is understandable. Make a list of the pros of working – your salary, your career growth prospects, self fulfillment, and other advantages and stick on for at least three months before deciding to quit. Most of all, do not base your decision to quit on one bad day.
Be equal partners at home, and hire help if required.
When both parents are working outside the home, it makes sense that the mantle of work at home must be taken on equally. Divide the work among yourselves so that you both get enough time with the baby. Hiring help for daily chores like cleaning and cooking, especially if you can afford, is a lifesaver and gives you quality time to spend with your child.
It is easy to feel apologetic about having to take unplanned leave for a sick baby, or having to leave early to make it in time for the day care pickup, but do not apologize for having the added responsibility of a little human, and at the same time working out of your home. You are an asset to the workplace and as a new parent, you should be bragging loudly about how parenthood has only made you better at multi-tasking at your workplace!