Headed back to work after maternity or parenting leave? Helpful transition tips for you and your child
Reconnect through touch
If one parent gives the baby a bath after work, the other can prepare dinner. A warm bath is not only a chance to play — it may also refresh your baby enough to get through dinner quite happily. “Skin-to-skin contact with a parent is also a great way to reconnect,” says Hatherell.
Minimize night waking
Babies who are getting used to daycare may need more attention at night, says Hatherell. “Many parents find it smoothes nighttime parenting when they practise some kind of shared sleep. Every child will be different. Some may not be able to get through the night without some kind of physical closeness, others will just need mom’s T-shirt beside them to breathe in her smells.”
Share the night shift
Once you become a two-working-parent family, both of you may feel more rested if you alternate nights on tending to the baby when he wakes.
If you’re still breastfeeding, now may not be a good time to wean her. Breastfeeding can be a wonderful way to reconnect at home after a long day apart. You might also consider pumping some breastmilk to leave for your baby the next day.
If your baby hasn’t drunk from a bottle or a cup, try introducing a cup with a built-in straw for breastmilk, which is easy for the baby to suck from. Most won’t take to a bottle readily if they haven’t had one before, says lactation consultant Teresa Pitman.
Some mothers find their breastfed babies drink less during the adjustment period. Pitman suggests offering lots of high-liquid foods: soups, juicy fruits and breastmilk or fruit juice ice pops.
Cut yourself some slack Returning to work can be stressful, but it can also be invigorating, if you enjoy your work. Talk with your partner about dividing up household duties and baby care so neither of you feels overextended.
Acknowledge your own feelings “It’s normal to miss your baby or feel upset,” says Hatherell.
For Kirmani, talking to her husband, and to friends who had been through the transition back to work, helped when she was struggling with her emotions. “I could also call the caregiver,” says Kirmani, “to make sure she was settling in.”
In the beginning, says Kirmani, Alina would be quite upset at pickup time. Now, two months later, Alina is excited to see her mom, but not in a rush to leave daycare. “Knowing my daughter is well-cared for and having fun makes me feel good about being at work.”