Guest blog by Cassandra Fenton of Stumbling Grace Blog
Some new parents get just a few weeks, but I was lucky enough to get twelve full months of government subsidized maternity leave with my second daughter. Whatever your circumstances, it can be hard to adjust to life away from your baby for hours at a time.
As I approached the end ofmy maternity leave, I started to think about what this next chapter would look like, what joys it would bring, what new trials I would face, and what emotions would surface as I tried to find a balance between work and home.
What did I want to do? Work full-time, part-time, or not at all? What worked for my family? Onlyyou know the answers to these questions as they relate to your personal circumstances. Without a doubt you are trying to create the very best life for your baby, so throw away the guilt and shame - we have enough to worry about as parents without being bogged down by such useless things.
As I branched out, asked friends and family for advice, I got a ton of helpful nuggets. Let me share them with you, and maybe I can help make your transition a little easier.
Ask for Help
Going back to work and adjusting your life completely,again, can be nerve racking and flat out confusing. If you are going back to full time work, you’ll be looking for childcare and want to make sure it’s one suited to your child’s needs and personality. It’s okay to reach out and ask for help. Ask family to help with childcare maybe just for the first couple weeks. Ask for help financially if you don’t feel you’re comfortable to return full time yet. And ask for help if you just need time to decompress from your first few days back. It’s a lot to go from 0-100 in one day.
Make a Schedule
It helped for our family to make a schedule, to figure out when my husband worked and when I would be working and to visually see with paper and pen what our life was going to look like. Seeing when and where we would have family time as that is very important to us, especially with the girls being so young.
Diet is so important for a healthy body and a clear, bright mind. Returning to work is going to be a little bit overwhelming and the last thing you want to do at the end of the day is make dinner. I used to think I would never be someone who meal plans and then recently we went camping and planned out our meals and it was the best thing ever. We didn’t hum and haw about what we were going to eat and we had exactly what we needed and didn’t need to rush out for groceries.
You may not be someone who is extremely extroverted or technically ‘need’ social time, but if you are able to get involved in a mom and tot program in your community this may help give you a sense of belonging, a safe space to talk to other moms about your child, all while your little one is around others their age and getting some social time in as well.
Get Your Sleep
This is definitely something where I saw a HUGE difference in the way my mind and body responded to daily tasks, anxiety was lowered and most of all my energy level was increased. Having a good night sleep does more than just make you feel rested, it improves your concentration and productivity, allowing you to reach your full potential and embrace parenthood with your amazing children!
To most, this may be intimidating to think about when you are only a few months postpartum. Check in with your doctor and make sure you listen to your body and know your limits.
If you are a new mother and your body is still healing, exercising may mean anything from going for a walk around the block or some gentle yoga. Exercising will help to tone your muscles and strengthen your body, give you more energy and help relieve stress and prevent postnatal depression. With my own two young girls, getting out of the house can be tough, but the benefits far outweigh the challenges.
It also helped me to babywear my girls in the Beluga Wrap while I exercised. Hands-free happiness!
Plan a trip
You may think that this is something that would bring on more anxiety and stress, but for myself this was something to look forward to. After I started work again, it was x-amount of days until we got to go visit family, or have a day trip to the zoo, whatever would bring you joy. It doesn’t have to be big and expensive. Something as simple as a camping weekend, or visiting family a little ways away is enough.
There are so many more ways to aid in the transition from work to home out there and to help you while you are figuring out what your ‘new normal’ is. It will be hard to get back into the groove of things, but always remember, you are not alone and there are so many mothers out there who are going through the exact same thing as you with the exact same emotions, juggling schedules and meal planning! And don’t don’t ever forget, you’ve got this mama!