Back to Work Baby Blues

May 16, 2012

One working mom's relfections on heading back to work post baby

By: Shannon Blackwell-Carver, MN
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Tips on surviving returning to work after the baby arrives

Going back to work after having a baby is one of the toughest choices to make. Consulting all the magazines and books in the world won't make it any easier either. Some moms don't have a choice and some love what they do so much it would never cross their minds not to go back to work. But for those of us in the middle, well, it's hard. My husband makes enough money so we could live on his salary, but I enjoy being out in the world (not to mention my high-priced latte addiction), so I chose to return to work. I won't go into the fact that my decision had anything to do with the sheer terror I felt at the thought of being alone every day with just my baby. When his therapy bills come in 20 years from now, I don't want to think it was 100 percent my fault, you know.

So I went back, and it was hard, and I survived it. I also learned that all working moms approach this differently, but feel basically the same about it. It doesn't matter what your childcare arrangements are either. Daycare, in-home daycare, nanny, babysitter, relative, spouse, monkeys, whatever — the first time you leave your child to go out into the big, bad world, you will be devastated to your very core.

I'm not going to lie and tell you I have all the answers on how to breeze through it, but, and I'm not bragging, I was a highly decorated Girl Scout in my day, and I learned a few things about survival. And some really great camp songs, which if you think will help, call me and I'll belt them out for you. In no particular order I offer up to you, new working mommy, my top five tips for surviving your first day back to work.

1. Do not look to your husband for help. I don't know why, I'm not a psychologist or scientist, but it's just different for men. They're not as freaked out about it, and if you try to consult him on "how he made it through," his answer will only baffle you. Call your mom. She's the only one who cares about it like you do.

2. Do not put on your makeup until you are in the parking lot at work. It doesn't matter if you're horrified at the thought of the cute counter boy at Starbucks seeing you without your mascara. It is far more horrifying to spend the day with raccoon eyes, after the requisite tears.

3. Do not bring your photo album to work with you. You are a professional. Yes, you had a life-altering experience, and you want to share. But let me be frank here, your co-workers don't care. Do not let it upset you. They want to see one, maybe two pictures, just to be polite. Save the album for your closest co-workers, and only outside the office.

4. Expect to cry at least twice — and at the most inappropriate times. Like when calling your best client to announce your return, or in the elevator. The crying will be difficult to control and you won't be able to explain it. Don't try. If anyone looks at you just smile and say, "Hormones!" Trust me, no one will ask any more questions after that. 

5. Do not break traffic laws in your rush home. Your baby is there, just waiting for you. Your baby did not even begin to experience the separation anxiety that you did all day. You had a rough time, but you did it. Savor your drive home as a time to reflect on the day. What was good, what was bad, what you look forward to about tomorrow, what you look forward to when you walk through the front door. But most of all, just enjoy a moment of reflection about the new you. You're a working mom, now. Congratulations, and welcome to the club.

Everyone's experiences are different and often faced with mixed emotions.  How have you or your friends handled these decisions and transitions?  Please post your thoughts.


1) Eva Marinus said:
I really related to this - thanks!!!
1 year ago

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