I dreaded going back to work after mat leave. I hated:
1) The idea of leaving my baby with someone that will spend more time with her than me.
2) The fact that I need to work and it is nice to have money.
3) The guilty feeling for being away.
I. hated. every. thing.
Previously, I wrote about finding a happy medium between going to work and staying at home. In that post, I outright stated I was excited to go back to work after a long stretch at home. I'm telling you this, it was not easy and it took me a full year being back at work to get to that point. There was a lot of crying involved before, during, and after work.
I'm very blessed to have a wonderful manager that is understanding, considerate, and accommodating. I remember him sending me a message with the disclaimer "this is a gentle reminder and dedicate asking about when I might be interested in coming back to work after mat leave." He said he knew this is a very sensitive question to ask a new mom and I can answer when I am ready. Who does that?! Who asks in a such a manner? I think most managers would be like: "hey, when are you coming back? You have been off a long time already." Cue in immediate #uglycrying
When I came back to work, my manager called to see how I was doing on my first day back. I told him I don't want to talk to anyone before 10am and only after I have retouched my makeup and if I am in the mood. Also, not expect any work productivity from me for at least a month. His answer? Ok. You do what feels right. Obviously, his answer was reassuring and I did actually talk to people and worked.
Here are my tips on getting back into work after mat leave:
Try to focus. You went back to work for a reason. (Financially need the job.) So be the best employee you can be. You don't want to jeopardize your job because you are a nut-case-crying-baby.
Bring comfort items to work with you. I bought pictures of Grace and carried around a bottle of her lotion for the first couple of weeks just so I could be reminded of her smell. Don't judge, that's rude.
See the silver lining in going back to work. If you think hard enough, there are great things about going back to work. Think about: Hot coffee; uninterrupted bathroom time; adult conversations; wearing clean and nice clothes; and starting to feel like yourself pre-baby.
Don't over stress about all the things you have to do or want to. You will figure out a routine and get into your groove. For me, I would either eat a fancy lunch or try to run errands during my lunch hour whether that be going to the grocery store/dollarstore/bank/post office. You will be amazed by the amount of tasks you can accomplish during your lunch hour. If you think about it, you have an extra five hours a week to do things uninterrupted. You just have to plan ahead (to do list, packed lunch on the go, flat shoes for running.)
If you are feeling sad for long periods of time, talk to someone about your feelings. You are not alone. What you are feeling is totally, totally normal. You will feel like yourself again. That will be your new normal.