In the midst of this challenging time, some parents have to go back to work. It can be not an easy process to transition back to work after being with your baby for awhile during self-quarantine.
Note: This post has been updated in June 2020 to include some tips for going back to work after being with your baby for a period of time.
When I first wrote this post, it was a week or two before the state of emergency was declared.
Please decide how best it is for you to transition back to work.
Read the points and choose how it applies to you.
In this blog post, I will share with you some tips that I’ve read and personally found useful as I went back to work at the end of February 2020.
My story: I was on maternity leave for 17 months. Yes, I am very blessed to have that and cannot imagine how parents might not have that opportunity to spend that time with their little one.
As much as I wanted to spend more time with her, I needed to go back to work. Maybe you’re in the same boat too.
Also, we think that it’ll benefit her to go to daycare and learn social skills being around other children. I talked about how to prepare a toddler for daycare here(will be updated to include tips post COVID-19).
Two weeks prior to starting work, I tried to prepare myself to go back to work. Everyone’s transition back to work will be different, however, I hope you can learn some tips from my experience to make yours easier.
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Here are some tips for an easier transition back to work (in no particular order):
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1. Practice waking and sleeping earlier
If you have been sleeping later at night like me, it’s time to change. I had to learn to wake up earlier so that it would be around the same time as I would wake up for work.
The process of me waking up earlier involves both sleeping earlier and setting an alarm clock.
I started with setting the alarm clock first. My alarm was set to 6 a.m. (which might not be early for some of you). When I heard my alarm, I have to intentionally not snooze it.
Because I was waking up early, I was also getting tired early. I got myself into bed earlier and tried not to be on my phone. Doing this for a few days helped me to sleep earlier.
If you are blessed to sleep easily like my husband, good for you. This might work even quicker for you.
2. Check for your start date
It would be good to check when you are returning to work a few weeks or even months before you start. Not only you can prepare for when you’re going back, but also know when you need to put your child in daycare or with another caregiver.
You can check with Human Resources or ask your boss when you are expected to return. If you need to have more time, you can also check with them to see if this is possible.
When I was on my maternity leave, I was not sure of exactly when I was going to start.
Different people had different dates in mind. After checking and calculating, we were able to pinpoint my exact return date.
It was a good thing that I checked ahead of time. So, check to see when your return date is.
3. Figure out how to prepare meals
Meals is going to be something that we all need to figure out. Whether packing lunch or prepping for dinner, we need to think about what works for our own schedule.
If you need to prepare meals and snacks for you kid, you’ll need to figure out how many, when you need to prepare it, and how to keep it at an optimal temperature if necessary.
Fortunately for us, the daycare will provide most meals except for breakfast. We figured that we need to wake up really early for everyone to have breakfast together.
As for us parents, we will eat leftovers from the previous night’s dinner for lunch the next day. We only need to figure out how to make dinner quickly. I’m looking up recipes to cook in our Instant Pot. Let me know if you have any quick and easy recipes.
Some ideas that you can try out is to precook at night when the kid is asleep, or prep everything and throw it all into the slow cooker or Instant Pot in the morning. Or, you can do some batch cooking on the weekend and reheat them up during the week.
You can also check out Amazon Prime (free for 30 days) to get ingredients for you. This is a time saver.
Do what works for you.
4. Follow up on any employment insurance (EI) matters
This might only apply to Canadians. If you need to check your EI status or follow up on any unpaid statements, this is the time to do it.
5. Prepare your child for daycare or a caregiver
Preparing your child for daycare is so important. I wrote more about it here.
Whether they are going to a daycare or grandma’s, it is a huge change for the both of you.
Getting them to sleep and wake up on schedule, labeling their items with these waterproof labels, and telling them how exciting this new change is going to be are ways that will hopefully be easier for transition for the both of you.
You know your child best and can prepare them for this transition in the best way possible.
Also, check the last point below on preparing for the new procedures due to COVID-19. You might need to explain to your child what is happening and what is expected of them.
6. Be emotionally prepared that it will be tough
Change is not easy. Not for them, not for you.
Also, the mom guilt is real. You want what is best for your child, but you also need to go to work.
When I went back to work, I knew that it was going to be different. However, I was not prepared that I was going to feel so lost. The first day was basically a blur and I was constantly thinking about my baby.
We will all get through it. Talk to someone if you need to. There are other parents at work that can relate as they were in your position.
Take a walk if you need some fresh air. The transition back to work not only impacts your schedule and what you do, but also how you feel. Do take care of yourself during this time of change.
7. Figure out the best route to work since it’s been awhile
If you drive or take the bus, figure out the best way to get to work. Update your transportation card or get your car serviced if you need to.
Nothing is worse that scrambling last minute to figure out how to get to work on time. You have a lot on your plate. This can be easily done and then you don’t need to think about it.
8. Get your bags ready (and lunch if you can pack the night before)
This is a tip I’ve learned from my dad. He would ask us if we have packed our school bags the night before. He knows that we would be scrambling the morning of. Hahaha!
Similarly, packing our bag the night before will make the morning of less hectic. Depending on your job, you might need to check with your coworkers prior to packing your bag.
Also, if you plan to bring lunch to work, pack it the night before unless you’re cooking it fresh in the morning.
Packing the night before makes your transition back to work a little less stressful. This is a similar food container to the one I have.
9. Prepare and buy work clothing if needed
After giving birth to a baby, we might no longer fit into our work clothing or our style has changed.
Look through your closet to see what you want and can wear for work.
If you need to get new clothing after looking through your closet, get some pieces that you love. You can always start with what you have and then add as you see fit.
I lost some weight after K started walking. It’s because I’m chasing her around. Though I am able to fit in my clothes (thank God), my style changed. I prefer dresses with higher necklines and donate dresses with lower necklines.
It’s a decluttering process for us. See what you have and know that you deserve to feel your best, especially at work.
10. Have your story ready
On the first day of work, everyone will ask you how you’re doing and how your little one is doing. Come prepared with a story.
Yes, this is excessive. However, if you feel like you might burst into tears or have a really long story, you can prepare a short story to tell others.
It can have the important information you want others to know, but not too much that it becomes tiring for you to tell it over and over again.
11. Take time to sleep earlier the night before your first day
As parents, there is so much on our minds. Given that this is the transition period back to work, there are more things we need to think about.
Once you have prepared everything, try to go to bed even earlier than you plan to. Settle down and get a good night of rest.
Of course, our toddler might wake up in the middle of the night for different reasons. This will affect our sleep.
However, if you get to bed earlier, you’ll have a little bit more sleep than previous nights. We can all hope that they will sleep through the night. We will all be refreshed and happy in the morning.
12. Optional: Buy gifts for coworkers
This is optional as it depends on whether you want to or are financially able to get gifts for your coworkers.
When I went back to work, I dropped by a Tim Hortons and grab a box of 50 timbits (less than $10 after tax) and gave it to my coworkers.
It was something that I wanted to do for them, but not necessary at all. If you want to get something but don’t have enough time to go out and buy it, you can always use Amazon Prime (free for 30 days). Click on the box below.
13. Know the new procedures (due to COVID-19)
Different workplaces and childcare centers will have a set of new procedures you need to follow.
Whether it is wearing a mask at all times, or needing to check your temperature, be prepared ahead of time.
If it takes more time to drop off your kid at daycare due to the questioning, temperature check, and whatever else the new procedure encompasses, do your research and be prepared that it might take you longer than expected.
Above all else, give everyone grace. It’ll take some time for everyone to figure things out. Whether it is your workplace, the daycare, or even the transportation companies. We are all in this together.
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