Returning to work after maternity leave

Returning to work after maternity leave. Whew. I did it. I have successfully returned to work after my maternity leave. Baby is in daycare; my 5 year old is in preschool; and I am back in the office feeling like I now work three jobs: .

1) The hectic mornings:

Involves getting baby and 5 year old dressed, fed, redressed (for the baby who inevitably dirties her outfit before I’m out the door), packing lunches/bottles, putting baby down for a cat nap (to help ward off complete exhaustion at daycare), and, lastly, getting dressed for work in an outfit that a) fits, b) doesn’t have spit-up on it, and c) can handle the wear-and-tear of juggling baby and preschooler.

2) At the office:

I’ve always been organized and efficient. Having my son took me to another level. The birth of my daughter makes me feel like an air traffic controller on steroids. Not a minute of my time is wasted.

3) The busy evenings:

Feed the baby, get dinner ready for the rest of the family (unfortunately, lots of takeout these last two weeks), bathe the kids, get them ready for bed. Then comes “me” time, which involves relaxing while I’m sterilizing bottles, washing dishes and prepping for the next morning. I’m also responding to e-mails and putting out fires for my job that truly is 24-7.

So how did I survive the transition?

I could probably come up with an endless list of tips for returning to work after maternity leave. Here are the ones at the top of my list:

Ask for help and map out responsibilities:

Thanks to those organizational skills mentioned above, I worked out with my husband all of our responsibilities, and we divided them up. Who drops off and picks up? At what time? Who does the laundry, the dishes, the grocery shopping? Without a clear understanding of who needs to do what and when, mass chaos would quickly breakout at home.

Do a trial run:

Once you’ve lined up daycare/babysitting for your little one, try it on for size – before you have to battle with rush hour traffic to make it to work. It also really helps your baby adjust to a new setting. Build in a few days before you return to the office and introduce your baby to her new caregivers. I took it a step further and also timed how long it’d take me to do everything I have to do before heading into the office. Think of yourself as a runner who’s trying to improve her time in a marathon – a really, really long marathon that lasts well into the teen years.

Embrace the unexpected:

One of the unexpected gifts of motherhood has been that I no longer sweat the small stuff. It’s even more so after Baby No. 2. The other morning, my little one threw up on me just as I was ready to head out. My son, hearing the commotion, got up from the breakfast table, at which time my dog helped himself to my son’s breakfast. By the time we made it to preschool/daycare, I hardly even flinched when my son accidentally emptied his entire thermos of water on the back seat of my car. ( )

Life is good.

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