As I mentioned yesterday, transitioning back into the workforce is SO incredibly difficult after having a baby, but it has gone a lot more smoothly with Eloise than it did with Belén. I really did feel like I was losing a limb that first day Andy took Belén to be cared for by someone other than myself and notice Andy had to take her because I knew I would have completely lost it if I had been the person to drop her off.
This time around I successfully did the drop off even though that is now transitioning to Andy. (It is more emotional turmoil than I choose to deal with before going into the office and it doesn’t bother Andy as much.) Since things are going well, I wanted to share a few things I did differently with the transition this time which I believe helped it to proceed a lot more smoothly:
First and foremost, I think I knew what to expect since this is the second time. The old adage, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Second, my maternity leave was so wonderful and I never spent any time doing things I didn’t absolutely want to be doing. I didn’t waste a single day doing what I thought was expected of me or what someone else wanted me to be doing, but instead only spent my time how I wanted to which was mostly just hanging out with Eloise. Selfish…maybe, but I didn’t care.
Third, no work during maternity leave. I had 2600 emails and didn’t read any of them until my last week of maternity leave.
Fourth and probably most importantly, I eased Eloise (and myself) into daycare. Right after she had her two-month shots, I started taking her for a couple of hours a day while I went and worked out or in the case of last week, read my email backlog. I also spent a lot of time in the daycare room nursing her upon my return while also getting to know the providers and other babies. This made us both feel comfortable having her in this new environment and I could picture what she was doing, how she was being cared for and knew she was ultimately okay. It also helped me ensure she was going to take a bottle from the providers which eased my mind immensely. If you recall with Belén, the first day we dropped her off at my mom’s house she didn’t take a bottle until she was absolutely starving in the afternoon.
Fifth, I am only working six-hour days this week and taking two hours of FTO (actually New Parent Leave) each day, which makes each work day away from baby SO much easier to swallow. Next week I will start with eight-hour days but plan to work 9-3 still and then two additional hours in the night after the kiddos are in bed, or perhaps 8-3 with one additional hour, we will see…
Finally, I did get caught up on my email before heading back to work so I wouldn’t have the stress of not knowing anything that happened while I was away. I came up with a quick and dirty way to get through the emails quickly leaving me with only 47 emails to start out the day Monday morning.
1. Move everything in your Inbox to a “Maternity Leave” folder. If you are in an exchange server environment like I am, this allows you to begin receiving/sending emails again (our email setup does not allow you to send emails when your Inbox is over a certain size.) It also allows you to de-clutter your Inbox as you start receiving new emails you definitely will need to be on top of and respond to in a timely manner.
2. Sort by person. This allows you to delete emails from senders you know are not sending emails to you directly, like mailing lists, news, etc. Remove yourself from mailing lists you don’t want to be on while you are at it.
3. Next sort by Conversation. You can delete all but the last email in a long chain since the earlier parts of the conversation are embedded in each email in the chain. Or if you don’t care about the chain, delete the whole darn thing.
4. Search on the word “AGENDA”. Delete all of the meeting agenda emails that were sent and likely have a follow up message with minutes.
5. Now, search by person again and go read the emails of the people you care about most. Your boss or your bosses boss would be good ones to read.
6. Finally filter by date and read the newest stuff first and reference messages older than a month old if it is referenced in the newest emails or if you are like me and are anal enough to at least skim every message in case there is some nugget of information I am going to need to know.
And of course there is the other strategy which I really wish I could follow and even intended to follow and just ignore everything in the “Maternity Leave” folder until someone comes up to you and says, “Say, did you read that email about xyz”, then you can go searching for “xyz.” In a couple of months you could then just delete the folder altogether.
Those are all of my tricks. I should mention that we were paying for daycare in order to reserve our spot so the decision to take her in for a couple of hours while I was still on maternity leave was a little easier since we weren’t forking out additional dough to do so. Even if you just had a friend watch your child for a couple of hours on a few different occasions, it would be very helpful as the key at this age is really getting you used to being away from your child. These adorable babies are just so addicting!
Do you have other tricks or advice to help ease the transition back to work after having a baby? How did your transition go?
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