The perfect mom status has evolved a lot in the last decades. Far from the stay-at-home-cooking-cleaning-polite-feminine-lady, the perfect mom nowadays is often portrayed as the “superwoman”. She has it all: the high paying stimulating career, the loving husband, the two athletic and musically talented children, the cool friends, the yoga body, the welcoming yet always clean house, the time to do (insert here, everything)… this could go on for a while. If certain things like the vegan lifestyle or personal yoga instructor are relatively modern additions to the list, the most significant change is certainly the job
From 1976 to now, the proportion of working women with children has almost doubled. In 2009 the employment rate of mothers in Canada was up to 72.9%, and 64.4% for women with children under three years old. In addition of all the natural challenges of becoming a mother, modern women now have to learn how to raise a family – basically a full time job – in a world where they also have an actual full time job.
In Canada, most working women are lucky enough to have access to a great maternity leave program. Definitely makes the first months of motherhood easier. But, what happens after? Going back to work after many months of childcare at home is as big a challenge whether you had few weeks or a year at home. As any challenge, it can be a great experience, if well prepared.
Here are our best tips for all moms (and dads, hey, it is your kid too) on how to prepare your comeback to work after maternity leave.
- Full the fridge. Get a good afternoon with your partner to prepare and store as many dinners, lunchboxes, baby foods, breastmilk as you fridge and freezer can take. Because, no, you won’t want to cook a whole dinner, then pack a lunch every night when coming home from work. You will want that time to spend with your baby! And no, ordering food is usually not a good way to get all the nutrients and benefits from a nourishing and energizing meal, nor getting back in shape.
- Do a test run. The week before going back to work, set up your alarm earlier, as if you were to go work. Get up and have breakfast, while preparing your baby for daycare. Take the car, do the drive. You’ll get to see how much time it really takes you to get up, get dressed, feed the baby, get him to daycare in peak hours, etc.
- Ease in. One way to make your comeback easier is to give yourself a chance. Pick a holiday week or known low productivity period for your first days back at the office. It will allow you to readapt to your schedule in a less stressful, more laid-back, festive and joyful environment. Another solution would be to start in advance of the official end of your leave with half days, and use those extra half days to stay home and rest when you or the baby needs to.
- Look/feel good. Bad hair days never help being enthusiastic at work, that has not changed. Now that you are back to your usual schedule, you should start going back to your usual feel-good habits, more than ever! For many moms, post-pregnancy is not the moment they feel like their most beautiful self. Jeans may not fit the same way, and now that you take care of another human being, let’s face it, working out, getting a haircut or going to the spa may not be top priorities. But if that is the kind of habits that made you feel beautiful and confident, it is important to not forget about them. Safety rules on the plane always specify you should fix your oxygen mask before your kid’s one… You need to feel good in your routine in order to be good to your baby. It may sound illogical to waste 5 minutes of additional sleep just to put on a nice outfit, but if it can make you feel on point for the whole day, it is definitely worth it.
Going back to work is definitely a challenge, but remember it is the time to get back to your routine and start thinking about yourself again. Let’s hope that those few tips can help to get prepared for this life experience!