Maternity leave is a magical time. Once the first two or three rough weeks are over, the rest is relatively smooth sailing – other than the constant night feedings and your body attempting to recover from what it’s been through.
But for moms who are headed back to the workforce, especially if they’ve spent years working without a break other than the customary two weeks a year for vacations, maternity leaves are some of the most precious weeks they’ll ever have. You get a chance to bond with your baby, and learn how to manage the challenging task of being a mom who is needed every minute of the day in some way, shape or form.
But all good things must come to an end. And once your allotted maternity leave time is up, you’ll be back to the daily grind. Working after you’ve had a baby, however, is different from working pre-baby. Here are some tips to help you survive pulling double duty when you have to go back to work.
Find Daycare and a Spare
If you don’t have a spouse who will be staying home with the baby, you’ll have to line up daycare. Daycare can be expensive, and the quality can vary wildly from provider to provider. The best way to find a quality daycare is to ask your mom friends where they take their babies.
Once you have someone lined up, you’ll also want to find a spare babysitter because your provider, especially if it is someone who watches your baby in her home, might cancel on you to take a vacation or because of illnesses. Calling in sick to stay home with your baby on a repeated basis can jeopardize your job after a while.
Sleep While You Can
There’s only so much caffeine can do for a person. Sometimes you need actual sleep. Some parents find that babies struggle sleeping through the night for a year or two, not just those first few weeks of your maternity leave.
When you’re working through the day and you’re not able to nap at home when your baby does, those midnight feedings leave you exhausted while at work.
Sleep every minute you can at home. If your baby goes to sleep at 8 p.m., you should too. On the weekends, take advantage of your baby’s naps to sneak one in yourself.
Use Your Weekends to Get Things Done
During the week, use your nights to catch up on some much-needed baby time. Being away from the light of your life while you are at work is one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do. The moment you get home, you feel the need to not let your baby out of your sight to make up for missing her for the past eight hours of work. So go ahead, indulge yourself in some intense baby time.
Try to use your weekends to catch up on everything you need to do – like laundry, vacuuming, cooking and more. Make some freezer meals so you’ll always have a homecooked meal to pop in to the oven the minute you get home during the week. Less cooking on weeknights means more baby time, and that’s something all working parents will appreciate.
Shannon Serpette is a mother of two and an award-winning journalist and freelancer who lives in Illinois. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.