During my pregnancy I remember spending time thinking about my maternity leave. What would it be like? Would I want to go back to work early? What would I do with all this new so-called free time? Maybe I wouldn't return to work at all.
Though many parents receive an amount of time as a leave from work after the arrival of baby, there are some who return to work early for different reasons. Some cannot afford the leave from the workforce, others have entrepreneurial ventures, owning businesses and need to have a presence in daily activities of their respective businesses. There are also parents who love their jobs who decide to work part-time or perhaps another parent stays home because their partner makes more money.
For whatever the reasons are, obtaining a work-baby balance will require some work. This work should be discussed during pregnancy and oftentimes a doula can help to prepare for this transition.
Motherhood in it's earlier stages definitely throws you some curve balls so finding what works for you will vary from some others experiences. And depending your timeline of returning to work, you may need some in-home assistance from a doula.
1. Sleep hygiene: Just as you bathe, lather and soothe baby to sleep at night, you should so the same. Get to be early, sleep when baby sleeps and even try a guided meditation to help you settle to sleep.
2. Wardrobe: Prepare your morning the night before & lay your clothing out so it's easily accessible in the morning. Same goes for baby. Pack a bag with all baby essentials.
3. Feeding: Mixing formula or filling with breastmilk, preparing multiple bottles for the next day will help the primary caregiver of your baby. Don't forget to rotate bottles that have already been prepared. If you are pumping, ensure that you have all the pieces clean & ready to take with you. A single hand pump can be handy for on the go and remember to take a cooler bag with an ice pack.
4. Meal prep: Packing your lunch (and snacks) the night before can be handy but a few times each week it's important to prepare some meal basics. This will also help you to cut down on prep time at dinner. Crockpot bagged recipes, bbq'd meat, egg-bake and salad bags are just a few that will help to give quick meal options.
5. Simplify morning beauty routine: If you showered the night before and dried your hair, you've already saved time! Try some simple makeup or tinted moisturizer.
6. Let it go: Give yourself permission to be okay with the fact that you can't do everything. Some days will seem so easy and others will prove to be more challenging. It's not perfect and you aren't perfect. Maybe that means doing laundry another night or grabbing dinner on the way home. Either way, you can cut yourself some slack and be okay with not getting everything completed in record time.
7. Get moving: If you have time on a lunch break, go for a walk. Maybe you even have a co-worker that can walk with you for some social time. The fresh air and social interaction is so beneficial. If you have no time during your workday/night, try to get outside when you're back home. Strap on your baby or get out that stroller and get some outside time. P.S. you'll sleep better too.
8. Outside help: Partners, friends, family and even a doula can provide support. This can include house cleaning, errands, cooking some meals, caring for your baby and home organization.
9. Network: Checking out new mom groups is a great way to make new friends, interact with other parents in the same life situation and also expand your social circle. It's also a great way to get together in your home and others for future play dates.
10. Rinse & Repeat: Using weekly & monthly organizational calendars will provide some structure and something to reference when things can feel overwhelming. Start by filling the calendar with events that are definitely happening, add things that you'd like to do and you'll see what blank spaces are left to either use to take a break or maybe get caught up on things that were okay to let slide for a few days.