Since the birth of your new bundle of joy, you’ve been going through a parent’s version of rigorous survival training. In a short period, you are subjected to a mixture of strenuous physical demands, mental strengthening drills, and unavoidable sleep deprivation as you work to develop a routine. If that’s not challenging enough, within a matter of weeks, you are expected to have conquered the new mommy landscape, and morph into a high performing working mother without missing a beat. Although an unreasonable expectation, ask any new mom and they will tell you absurd or not, it’s still the expectation. It’s the basis for the stigma surrounding new moms in the workplace. When I use the term “stigma”, I mean the perception that working moms are too distracted to do their jobs, as well as they, did before the miracle of birth.
How can you return to work and disprove the stigma without losing your mind and irritating the hell out of your co-workers? If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s how people feel about working moms because they tell me often enough. Considering all that feedback and my own experiences as a working mother, here are Your Office Mom's five tips to prepare for your return and transition well.
#1 Create a Realistic Working Mom Schedule
If you worked late in your pre-mom life, I'll take odds in Vegas that you will still work late now. I’m not suggesting you work late every day, but make sure your schedule is versatile enough to handle the fluctuating time demands of your job and new motherhood, so you don't need to bolt. Propose a schedule change if you need one. After you consider your own needs, talk to your boss about how the change could benefit the team, or support another time zone.
#2 Play Nice with Others
Chances are a few things have changed during the past 12 weeks. While you were off doing the motherhood thing everyone else was busy doing the work thing. Stay calm when you settle back in and notice relationships have flourished, a new process is in place, things were done incorrectly, and others not at all. Take the time to understand before reacting. The people doing your job and theirs, deserve that you be kind with any criticism. Individually thank each person for their support and acknowledge their role in keeping things afloat during your absence. Appreciation goes a long way, as do bear claws and cupcakes. During your Thank You Tour don’t forget to ask others about their life adventures as you’re sharing yours.
#3 Set Boundaries
Motherhood is amazing, but recognize that some topics aren’t appropriate at work. You need boundaries. Call me old fashioned, but sharing your cervix measurements, what you did with your placenta, or lamenting about any other body part is unprofessional. Some conversations need to be kept private, and shared privately, by invitation only. And, while we are on the topic of keeping things private, your pumping schedule and the production that goes along with it is not a team activity.
#4 Read the Room
People are happy about your return, but everyone heard all about your pregnancy, threw you a baby shower and had to do all your work while you were on leave. They sure don’t want you to come back to the office so they can hear you talk about parenthood all day. Your infant’s sleep and poo patterns might fascinate the hell out of you, for everyone else, not so much. Just because one co-worker listens and engages in conversation with you doesn’t mean everyone within earshot wants to hear the chit-chat. So, read the room. Talk about topics that interest a broad audience like binge-worthy shows on Netflix, or anything except children and parenting.
#5 Don't Use Motherhood as An Excuse
When you drop the ball or arrive late for an important meeting, that’s not motherhood's fault. It's your fault. That may sound a little harsh, but repeated incidents of this sort can and do impact the perception others have of you and your commitment to the job. People already expect you to throw the "Mom Card" when you miss a deadline, make a quick exit at day’s end, or decline a client dinner. So, surprise them by not doing it! Keep most of your motherhood challenges to yourself, especially the ones that interfere with your ability to work.
Time has a way of fading memories, but I remember how hectic motherhood is, and how brutal the back-to-work transition can be on new working moms. Caring for my great niece while her moms got some much needed away time, I experienced first hand how exhausting just feeding, changing, singing off key, and engaging in goofy behavior for a few hours can be. Yes, I did it years ago, but just thinking about adding a work schedule to the mix was overwhelming. You will feel challenged and overwhelmed, but by planning your return to work, developing new habits, and being mindful of others, you can eliminate some of the stress that accompanies it. As for me, I need to work on a few things before I volunteer to watch the precious peanut again, namely learning some new songs. I am so over The Five Little Ducks and The Wheels on the Bus.
Share your thoughts and helpful ideas. Do you have any suggestions for new working moms? What have you done to make the transition easier?
This post was originally published on Worksearch Here Are 5 Of The Best Tips That Will Make You Love Going Back To Work As A New Mom