Transitioning Back to Work


Whether you had 6 weeks or 6 months of maternity leave, transitioning back to work and leaving your little one in the care of someone else can be difficult. Here’s what you need to consider before heading back to the office.

After nine months of pregnancy, hours of labor and countless sleepless nights of your baby’s first few weeks in the world, you might welcome a change – any change – to your schedule. Nevertheless, when your maternity leave is over and it’s time to go back to work, the transition might be rougher than you expected.

It’s good to think about ways to manage your transition back into the working world before it’s actually time to do so, says Lolita Carrico, founder of ModernMom.com, a website for women yearning to balance their status as a multi-hyphenate woman of today.

“As your due date approaches, make sure to have a solid plan in place to hand over work to colleagues,” Carrico says. “A smooth transition will be appreciated by all and will set the standard for an effortless transition when you return.”

Pat Katepoo agrees. She’s the founder of WorkOptions.com, a website that provides assistance with flexible work arrangements. Katepoo says having a solid work coverage plan in place eliminates having to deal with office problems during the first few weeks after delivery, a crucial time for mothers to get their rest and recover. “You don’t want someone calling you asking, ‘Where did you put this file?’” she says.

Katepoo recommends taking advantage of a reduced leave schedule, in which moms come back to work sooner, but have shorter workweeks to ease back into the swing of working outside the home. For example, a woman with a 12-week maternity leave might come back to the office at 8 weeks, but she would still have four weeks left of her leave. She could then work three days a week, taking the two days off each week until her leave was fulfilled.

Carrico says going back to work might be even more difficult for moms whose babies aren’t sleeping through the night. “Getting enough sleep with never be the same again, but make sure you go to bed early and take the time to take care of yourself,” Carrico says.

Here are other tips for moms who are returning to work:

  • Return mid-week: “Go back to work on a Wednesday after your leave,” Carrico advises. “A half workweek is much easier to manage when you're returning. Since you'll have a whole new experience – acclimating back to work and juggling getting out the door and home to a baby – it’s advisable to ease yourself back slowly.”
  • Visual reminders of the baby can help: “Keep plenty of photos on your desk and don't feel bad about checking in regularly with your baby's caregiver,” she says. “Some daycare facilities now offer webcams that allow you to virtually check-in on the muffin, so take advantage.”
  • Best option might be part-time…: Katepoo suggests that new moms look into a part-time work schedule. Even if it’s just a small reduction, such as switching from 40 hours to 35, it makes a world of difference, she says.
  • …or telecommuting: Nursing moms might want to look into telecommuting a few days a week. “Telecommuting isn’t a substitute for child care,” Katepoo reminds moms, but if either a nanny or family member will provide childcare at home, it can be easier to take breaks for feeding and keep the baby on schedule.
  • Snack right: “Keep high-energy snacks like nuts and Goji Berries, the latest ‘trendy’ fruit, which packs a punch with its B-12 content (a natural energy enhancer), on hand when you're feeling tired,” Carrico says.


For more help and information regarding flexible work schedules and a reduced leave schedule, please visit www.WorkOptions.com.


Tara Pringle is associate editor of MahoganyBaby.com. Please contact her at Tara@mahoganybaby.com.