Returning to work can leave new moms anxious over the thought their little one is missing their safe person. But, the truth is this tends to take a greater toll on working mamas than babies—at least until the reach the age of 10-18 months when separation anxiety typically spikes for babies.

Whether you’re proactively trying to avoid separation anxiety or just need a little something to ease your own mind upon returning from maternity leave, there are a few strategies that can make it a more harmonious transition.

1. Pick the childcare that suits your family

Consider your child’s temperament and choose childcare that will best meet their needs. Even once you have found the right center, it can be beneficial to get to know the individual carers. You may be able to find a lovely gentle carer in your baby's room that you could ask to be the sole carer for your little one for the first couple of weeks so they can try to form a strong connection.


2. Ease into time apart

Organize someone to look after your babe a couple of times before you officially begin work. If you don’t have the ability to wean them gently into childcare, see if a trusted friend or family member can spend time with your child so they feel more confident without you. (And vice-versa!)

3. Offer a comfort blanket baby will begin to associate with you

You can even sleep with a new “comfort blanket” for a couple of nights so it smells of you. (Believe me: This will do good for your soul when you see your baby cuddle with it, too!) If your child is slighter older and they have a special toy this will also be great to take along as they transition into childcare. Just to note make sure these special blankets and toys are in their bag at pick up—and it’s also great to have a spare just in case one gets left behind or lost!

4. Talk baby through what to expect—even if it’s just for your sake

Talk to your child about what’s going to be happening, even if they are little they will be taking it in. It can be helpful to also read stories about children who go to childcare or even make up a little song. Be creative and tailor your approach to be age appropriate.

5. See if you can spend time at childcare with them

If you can, spend a short amount of time in the center with the child showing them it’s a fun place to be. Then, if possible, leave them in the care there for longer periods of time. Keep in mind that sometimes children settle better in childcare if they are spending two or more days per week instead of just one, so you may need to be flexible in your approach. Often if they are only going one day a week it can slightly longer to make a strong connection with a childcare educator and settle into the new environment, but it will happen.

6. Try to stay calm—at least until after drop-off

Your body language speaks louder than words. You only need to hold it together for that short drop-off period—and then you can totally fall apart in the car when you leave. Make sure you keep drop-off time to a short and consistent routine.

7. Ask the childcare provider to send photos

Ask your carer to send some photos during the day so you can see they have calmed and settled, which will help you feel better and focus at work. Many childcare centers now have software that you can log into and see what your child is up to and most will have some kind of diary you can look at as well.

8. Block out time to reconnect at home

Make time when you get home for lots of cuddles and connection time, this will help your little darling feel connected and loved, which will help ease separation anxiety. It may mean putting some strategies in place for your household tasks but it’s definitely worth it. Maybe on childcare nights, you have a simple dinner that just needs oven heating so you have that extra time together.

These tips should give you some ideas on how to reduce the possibility of separation anxiety or how to gently manage it if it arises. I have worked with many families on return to work transitions and it’s important to approach each situation individually and find the right fit for your family.

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Motherhood is a practice in learning, growing and loving more than you ever thought possible. Even as a "veteran" mama of four young sons and one newly adopted teenager, Jalyssa Richardson enthusiastically adapts to whatever any given day has in store—a skill she says she's refined through the years.

Here's what just one day in her life looks like:

Jalyssa says she learned to embrace agility throughout her motherhood journey. Here's more from this incredible mama of five boys.

What is the most challenging part of your day as a mom of five?

Time management! I want to meet each of the boys' individual needs—plus show up for myself—but I often feel like someone gets overlooked.

What's the best part of being a mom of five?

The little moments of love. The hugs, the kisses, the cuddles, the smiles... they all serve as little reminders that I am blessed and I'm doing okay.

Are there misconceptions about raising boys?

There are so many misconceptions about raising boys. I think the biggest one is that boys don't have many emotions and they're just so active all the time. My boys display many emotions and they also love to be sweet and cuddly a lot of the time.

What do you think would surprise people the most about being a mom of five?

How much I enjoy it. I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I was pregnant with my first. My desire only grew and the numbers did! I am surprised with every single baby as my capacity to love and nurture grows. It's incredible.

How do you create balance and make time for yourself?

Balance for me looks like intentional planning and scheduling because I never want my boys to feel like they aren't my first priority, but it is extremely difficult. What I try to do is not fit it all into one day. I have work days because motherhood is my first priority. I fit in segments of self-care after the kids' bedtime so I don't grow weary.

What's the biggest lesson you have learned from motherhood?

I have learned that sacrifice is actually beautiful. I was terrified of the selflessness motherhood would require, but I've grown so much through the sacrifice. There is nothing better than living for something bigger than myself.

When did you first feel like a mom? How has your motherhood evolved?

I first felt like a mom when I was pregnant with my first son and I intentionally chose to change my eating habits so my body could be strong and healthy for him. I didn't have to think twice—I just did what I thought would be best for him. That decision being so effortless made me realize I was made for motherhood.

My perspective has changed with each baby as I've realized motherhood doesn't have to be one-size-fits-all. With my first son, I was a by-the-book mama and it was so stressful. With each baby, I have felt more freedom and it has made motherhood so much more beautiful. I have evolved into the mother that they need, I am perfect for these boys.

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