10 ways to prepare for your first day back to work as a working mom
The time has come to go back to work as a working mom
When transitioning back to work with my first child, I felt super overwhelmed and did not know how to feel or react. I also had no clue how to best “prepare” for that moment when I actually had to physically leave the home and my babies.
What always helped me and keeps me going even today is knowing that what I am doing has purpose and value. I hope that one day my kids will look back and understand why mommy had to go to work.
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Whether this is your first or third child, the crazy rollercoaster of emotions carries through on that very first day back. Here I will provide you with some key steps to focus on for just that 1st day back. After we get through day #1, then you can worry about all the nitty gritty schedules and getting your routines down.
If you are curious about what else you need to organize and do so that your transition back is successful, aside from just day #1, download the checklist below.
Feeling the mom guilt going back to work as a working mom
This may be something you are already experiencing with the simple thought of going back to work. Mom’s guilt is real. And truthfully, it won’t be easy and is something you may struggle with for some time. Mom guilt is feeling like you did something wrong because you are not with your kids, thinking about your kids or feeling your kids near you.
You may find yourself thinking/saying:
- My kids hate me because I’m at work and not with them, how could I?
- You can’t stop thinking about your kids and how they think you are a horrible mother for leaving them.
- Maybe you stopped thinking about your kids for 5 minutes while working on a project and then realize that you just stopped thinking of them so you feel like you are a horrible mom.
We will battle this a lot – especially as working moms and on that first day. It’s okay, it will be something to overcome and to continuously remind yourself of that purpose and the bigger picture. I will dive deeper into this in a future blog post.
Identifying your support people
Your support team will be so important in this next step of returning back to work. Who do you consider a part of your support team?
People to consider:
- Partner/ spouse
- Supportive family members
- Childcare provider
- HR / Boss at your job
- Your close friends
- Online community of moms
All of these groups of people play such an important role in how we feel at ease when going back to work. Check out my blog post on how to identify your support people. They are also key in finding and continuing that self-defined balance as a working mom after returning to work.
10 ways to prepare for day #1
Now let’s get to it. Here are my top 10 ways to best prepare for day #1 back to work after maternity leave.
- Positive mindset. This will be your most powerful tool as a working mom. It takes time to build this up – but remember that the way we speak about our day/ feelings, impacts how it actually manifests into our lives. Some good practices for this include goal writing and journaling. I’d also listen to some motivational podcasts that catch your attention.
- Extra snuggles. I already love all my snuggles with my kids but now I am much more intentional about just me and my bab(ies) time together before heading off to work. That means I either wake up earlier than my kids to get chores done or stay up a little later to get them done so I have more time with them in the morning. Even just 10 minutes of just me and my toddler doing whatever he wants us to do in the morning, is truly impactful.
- Clear communication with childcare and your boss. This will extend past just the first day, but it will be key for everyone to understand the ways/ times to best communicate with you. AND discuss how to handle anything that comes up. This should start happening before day #1. But on that day #1, it’s good for everyone to know that extra calls may be coming here and there.
- Establish a goodbye routine. This was particularly hard my second time around leaving for work because of my toddler who was super glued to mommy. This routine was a lifesaver for us. My son knows that when mommy gets her shoes and we sing one of her favorite songs together, that she is getting ready to leave for work. I do the same with my baby.
- Your 3 bags: work bag, lunch bag & pumping bag (if breastfeeding). Go check out the blog post on suggested items to put inside of each bag that is applicable to you.
- Baby pictures. So, freaking helpful, especially on that first day. I know we have our phones now that we can use to look at pictures, but if you can, also print out copies. I loved having my kids right there on my desk.
- Clothes that make YOU feel good. I neglected this the first time around and regretted it. You already feel different and self-conscious about how you look. So really setting yourself up to feel confident is key. Get yourself something nice!
- Flexibility. Your expectations of the day may not go as you would like to. That is okay. It’s your first day back. Things will come up. You may get a few extra calls from your partner or childcare provider…or heck, maybe you will call a few more times than usual too.
- Be kind to yourself! This is going to be a hard day – for many different reasons. You will have lots of emotions. Potentially some mom guilt. You will want to run back home as soon as you step into your job. Just breath & remember you got this!
- Your drinks. Though we can’t solve everything by going back to work – having a nice cup of coffee (bring a tumbler) and a glass of water is one step closer. Coffee makes you struggle less. Water boosts that energy.
You got this, mama! Don’t forget to remind yourself that you are freaking amazing. Keep going, keep growing!
What comes next after day #1 of returning to work
Getting through day #1 is huge! Remind yourself that. And pat yourself on the back once you get through it. After that first day, you can start to buckle down on your morning and evening routines for both you and the kids. You will start establishing the best organizational methods for you all as well.
If or when you are ready, take a look at these blog posts to help you find that balance once you have returned to work:
- Defining balance as a working mom
- 5 steps for a strong morning routine
- 5 time management tools
- Daily routines for a working mom
But for day #1, don’t stress the routines and planning schedule. You should simply focus on your emotional and mental well-being. It’s okay to cry and it’s okay not to cry. You got this!
How are you feeling about returning back?
What will you mainly focus on?
Please share below, I would love to hear your insight.