You work for a great company, make a good income, invested time in education so that you could achieve your career goals, yet you still feel down about returning to work after having your baby. It is normal to have mixed feelings about motherhood and returning to work. You miss your baby, yet you miss your job. Or maybe you don’t miss your job, but you really need the income. These feelings are normal emotions and nothing to feel guilty about. What can you do to beat the back to work blues?
Mommy Tips: Beating the Back to Work Blues
Make your first week back a short week. Don’t plan your first week back to work to be a full week. You may have a rough week, and knowing that the weekend is just around the corner will help.
Ask for help from family and friends. Let your partner, family, and friends know that you really need some help and support during your transition back to work. Ask your partner to help with housework or cooking dinner for the first week or two. Now would be a great time to pull out the frozen dinners from your freezer and give yourself a break.
Bring a picture of your baby to work with you. The first few days back at work are tough. Take a look at your baby’s picture when you start to feel down. You don’t have to forget about her just because you are at work. Take a few minutes for a mental mommy-baby moment and allow yourself to reconnect with your baby while you are away.
Don’t worry if you are emotional. It is hard to go back to work especially after getting used to staying home with your baby. The first few days you may be very emotional. That’s okay. If you feel yourself tearing up at work, try to regain your composure by breathing or taking a quick trip to the ladies room. Count to ten in your head, breathe, regain your composure, and go about your day. If you do shed a tear, it’s not the end of the world. You can still be a professional even if you have a few bad days at work.
Set mini goals for yourself. Instead of thinking, “I have to do this every day for the rest of my life”, try thinking about smaller goals. Handle things on a day-by-day basis. Make a goal to make it through your first day. That’s it! Don’t worry if you can handle the rest of the week or the days to come. Focus on getting through the day. You can re-evaluate and set new goals after you “make it through” your first day.
Call home. Call your daycare provider and ask how your baby is doing. Hearing that baby is enjoying her day or even knowing that the baby is having a rough day will help you to feel connected to your baby. Call your partner, family, or a close friend during the day to get a little “mommy pep talk” to help you make it through the day.
Reconnect with the baby when you get home from work. Plan some time for you to spend with your baby just reconnecting. Play with her, sing lullabies, feed her, and reconnect. Make the most of your time with her.
Take a reality break. Some days your job is not going to be what you want it to be. You may not enjoy your return to work. You may not be happy with the fact that you need to return to work and can’t stay home with baby just a little longer. This is when its good to take a “reality break." Slip into your own “happy place." Take some time in your workday to envision reality the way your dreams would have it. It sounds a little corny but sometimes daydreaming at work is a good thing.
Consider professional help. If you think you are having more than a simple case of “the blues,” call your doctor. It is not uncommon for women to have postpartum depression after having a baby. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between the back to work blues and postpartum depression. If you are concerned you might have PPD, it should be a red flag for you to call your doctor. After all, that is what we have our mommy instincts for, not just to take care of a baby but to take care of mommy.