Being a new parent requires a lot of changes to both your work and home life. Even before the baby is born, you’ll start making adjustments to cut back on the amount of hours you work in order to prepare for the arrival of your little one.
If you start to feel overwhelmed, take a step back and see how you can adjust your lifestyle to make it a little more forgiving. We’ve rounded up some tips below to help you manage returning to work after your parental leave. Remember to stay flexible and enjoy the process.
Ask for Flexible/Remote Hours
Many parents are working at least partly from home these days, which makes taking care of your baby a little easier as you are with them more often. If this is something that you would like to do, open up to your supervisor and ask if you can work a few days at home each week or have more flexible hours. Working remotely allows you to spend more time with your baby and also save money as you won’t need to hire childcare as often.
A lot of parents choose to set up a baby bassinet next to their desks so that they can keep an eye on their newborn. You can also try a baby swing for a short period of time if your baby is being fussy, or you can wear them in a sling that will keep them close.
Set Clear Expectations at Work
Before you return to work after maternal or paternal leave, it’s really important to have a conversation with your employer and peers where you lay out your expectations very clearly. For example, you should ask them about policies surrounding absences from work relating to your baby’s health and safety. Your baby is your top priority and if you need to leave suddenly, then your employer will be more understanding if you have had a proactive conversation with them.
You should also ask about breaks for breastfeeding and where you can do this at work. According to Federal Law, your employer must provide you with breaks and a designated space other than a bathroom for you to pump in.
Moving forward, when you are assigned new projects, don’t hold back on asking for all the details upfront. Only agree to timelines that actually make sense because if you aren’t able to deliver because you had to care for your baby, it will look worse than if you had simply changed the deadline at the beginning.
Hire a Great Babysitter or Nanny
If you need to return back to the office, you’ll want to start looking into childcare as soon as possible because it can take a while to find the right fit for your family. This process can’t be rushed because there are a lot of steps that go into finding the right caregiver, from getting recommendations to interviewing people and checking references. By finding a nanny or daycare that you trust, you’ll feel more at ease in returning back to work as you’ll know that your baby is in good hands.
Create a Family Calendar
When you are raising a newborn, good organization is key to running a smooth household. It helps to have one calendar set up that you, your partner, and your caregiver can share so that you all know where to be and when. You can write down your work schedules, the baby’s doctor appointments, visits from family members, social events, and other commitments. Instead of using a written calendar, consider using a Google calendar or a family organizer app. This way, you can check your calendar from your phone when you’re not at the house.
Use the Weekends as Prep Time
While weekends can often feel as crazy busy as weekdays when you are raising a newborn, hopefully you don’t need to work and can instead focus on accomplishing to-do’s around the house. The best way to make your life easier during the week is to prepare as much as you can over the weekend. Here’s a list of things that you can cross off this weekend:
- Go grocery shopping and always buy more than you need — you can freeze the rest and have it later
- Meal prep easy-to-make dishes that can be frozen and reheated
- Choose outfits for both you and your baby to wear every day
- Write the week’s schedule of events on your family calendar
- Do chores like laundry and cleaning
Establish a Consistent Bedtime for Baby
If your baby doesn’t have a set bedtime, it’s time to introduce one. Having a set bedtime is really beneficial for you as a parent and for your baby as it establishes a consistent routine that you both can count on. Depending on how much your baby sleeps during the day with their sitter or daycare, you can decide whether to put them to bed at an earlier or later time. Sticking to a regular bedtime will make it more likely that your baby will sleep through the night. It will also help when your baby is going through sleep regressions as it is a constant that they can count on.
Schedule “Me” Time
While you might not want to put this on the shared family calendar, you should definitely schedule a bit of time for yourself each day. Ideas to de-stress could include anything from a thirty minute morning yoga class to a walk in the park during lunch, or an episode of your favorite tv series before bed. It can be hard to slow down when your life is so full of commitments, but it’s really important to your health to take these moments to unwind without anyone bothering you.
Let Go of Guilt
Many parents feel guilt over leaving their baby at home when they go to work, but feeling this way isn’t going to help them or the baby. Letting go of the guilt will help you stay focused on being productive, which will help you get your work done faster so that you can be home with your baby sooner. You are doing the best that you can and it’s important to give yourself a little grace during this period.