Menu

How it Feels to Go Back to Work After Maternity Leave

5 stages of adjustment you’ll experience as a new working mom.

How it Feels to Go Back to Work After Maternity Leave

Your maternity leave is coming to an end. you’re Though your relationship with your baby will most likely need to adapt to your new schedule, you’re probably also wondering how your role at work will change once you set foot in the office.

Did one of your mom friends start working part time or ask for more flexible hours? Did a colleague of yours end up switching to a career that seemed easier to balance with parenting? Regardless of what your peers went through, remember that you are in control of your trajectory, and if you’ve always been passionate about your work, there’s way to be both a successful professional and a good parent. You may just need a little bit of time to readjust to your role at work.

FEATURED VIDEO

Here are 5 stages of adjustment that ambitious new moms can expect when they return to work after maternity leave.

1. Feeling Overwhelmed

As a working mother of two, I can assure you that you’re not the only one to feel overwhelmed while trying to balance mothering and working. Having and caring for a baby is physically draining and unlike anything you’ve done before. You’ll experience hormonal changes, too; and to top it off, your sleep patterns will change. So you’ll be more tired than usual, at least at the beginning. All of these changes may make it harder to navigate the usual stresses of office politics, client deadlines and meeting project milestones.

Not to worry though. This adjustment period is a finite one. Millions of moms have gone back to work and have ultimately managed to be good moms and successful employees. So rest assured that if things feel hard initially, they will get easier.

2. Experiencing Mom Guilt

Most moms I’ve spoken to agree: it’s not easy to go back to work and be away from your child — especially on the first day. Sometimes, the feeling of guilt persists and can be more intense and painful than you expected. These emotions are normal, however, and they will eventually subside.

So try to be kind to yourself during this period and think of what you can do to feel better. Find a support system at work, and check in with your daycare or babysitter regularly and as you need it. As you get used to your new life, you’ll get better at managing your feelings and the multiple hats you have to wear. You may even enjoy the time you spend at work, away from your kids -- many women do.

3. Overcoming judgements

When you come back from maternity leave, your company will hopefully provide you with a supportive environment. They won’t judge you for being a mom by giving you less challenging work, and offering you fewer promotions. If you’re lucky enough to work for a company where many moms have successfully transitioned back to work, you will have role models all around you who can reassure you that it will all feel easier with each passing week and month.

If you’re not as fortunate and feel like you are experiencing bias at work, you should discuss the problem with your manager or HR. If the situation doesn’t improve or you don’t feel supported, you may want to look for a new job where you will be appreciated and get the work that you actually deserve. There are many highly rated companies, where women feel satisfied with their work and their employers’ efforts to make the workplace welcoming for mothers.

4. Being hard on yourself

If you are nervous about being treated differently as a new mom, you may feel the urge to work harder than you did before (even if you already worked hard). But try not to overanalyze the situation. If you’re putting in your all, your employer and colleagues will recognize that, even if you are off at times. You don’t need to be a mom to be entitled to a bad day or even a bad week, and many employers understand that things like family illnesses, divorces or even messy break-ups can temporarily affect someone’s performance.

So while it’s understandable to feel the need to give your work a little boost, go easy on yourself during an already stressful time. Be confident in what you’re bringing to the table and make sure that people notice your efforts — don’t just put in extra hours and assume that others are aware of the sacrifices you are making.

5. Mastering Time Management

It sounds cliché, but it’s true: mothers are experts at multitasking and managing time. You might already think you are productive, but just wait until you get that mother juice flowing! When you go back to work, you’ll realize very quickly that you still need to get the job done on deadline before picking up your baby from daycare. It may sound daunting, but when you can’t extend the day, you learn to keep on track and prioritize -- two very valuable skills in the professional world.

It’s OK to anticipate a rocky transition when you return to work as a new mom, but don’t let your nerves get the best of you. By thinking through the different stages you’ll go through to adjust to your new roles, you’re putting yourself in a good position to tackle any obstacles that may arise. Your work life won’t feel quite the same as it once did, but that doesn’t mean that it will be more difficult or stressful. In fact, it may be better!

Looking for a new job after maternity leave? Visit Fairygodboss to check out 13 companies looking to hire women in 2017.

Georgene Huang is CEO and Co-founder of Fairygodboss, a free, anonymous community where women share advice and hard-to-find information about what jobs and employers are really like. She's obsessed with data and ideas about how to improve the workplace and lives of women.

In This Article

    Nuna

    New mama life is often fraught with decision fatigue. From choosing a pediatrician to choosing a baby monitor, it can be difficult to know which solutions are made to last. Fortunately, Nuna just made one very important decision a lot easier. That's because their new MIXX Next Stroller has everything a new parent needs to get out, get around and get everything done.

    An upgraded version of their popular MIXX stroller, the MIXX Next features a more compact fold (shaving 6.5 inches off the folded size, down to 27.5 inches long and 23.6 inches wide) thanks to a compact fold-away axle where the rear wheels tuck under the frame when it folds. Plus, the new model also stays standing when folded—meaning no more back-straining as you bend to pick up your folded stroller and heave it into the trunk. Instead, the MIXX Next can be tucked more easily into storage whenever your ride comes to an end.


    Nuna Mixx Next Stroller


    Speaking of the ride, your little one will love the new rear-wheel Free Flex suspension™ and front-wheel progression suspension technology that absorbs more shock as you roll over uneven terrain. The wheels have also been updated to tough, rubber foam-filled tires for a smoother, more durable ride and the no re-thread harness makes it easy to clip your baby in securely and quickly. And when all those gentle bumps lull your baby to sleep? The seat features a five-position recline that adjusts quickly with one-hand—all the way down to a true-flat sleeper recline—just don't forget to move them to their crib when you arrive home. (Don't forget to extend the water repellent, UPF 50+ canopy to keep those sleepy eyes shaded.) Even better, the all-season seat keeps baby cozy in winter and unsnaps to mesh for a cooler ride in the summer.

    Perhaps most importantly, though, this stroller is made to last. (After all, what's the point of solving a mama dilemma if it creates another one a few months down the road?) The MIXX Next pairs perfectly with all Nuna PIPA™ series infant car seats using the included car seat ring adapter, and then adapts to a child seat that can face toward you (for a little face time) or forward for when your little one is ready to take on the world. All in all, this stroller gets you where you need to go with a child up to 50 pounds, meaning it's the only one you'll ever need.

    The MIXX Next is available in three colors and retails for $749.95.

    This article was sponsored by Nuna. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

    Our Partners

    Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

    So, what's new this week?

    Happiest Baby: Baby sleep solutions designed by the experts

    Created by renowned pediatrician, baby sleep expert and (as some might say) lifesaver Dr. Harvey Karp, Happiest Baby has been helping new parents understand and nurture their infants for close to two decades. Building on the success of his celebrated books and video The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block he's developed groundbreaking, science-based product solutions that conquer a new parent's top stressor—exhaustion.

    WSEL Bags: Dad-designed diaper bags that think of everything

    WSEL stands for work smart, enjoy life—an ethos we couldn't agree with more. Founded by a stay at home dad who struggled to find a diaper bag that he not only wanted to use, but one that would last far beyond the baby years, these premium, adventure-ready backpacks are ideal for everything from errands to week-long getaways.

    Codex Beauty: Exceptionally effective sustainable skin care

    Codex Beauty's line of sustainable plant-based skin care blends the science of plant biology with biotech innovations, to create clinically proven, state-of-the-art products for all skin types. They're all vegan, EWG and Leaping Bunny verified and created in collaboration with Herbal Scientist Tracy Ryan who uses concepts dating back to the 8th century leveraging plants like sea buckthorn and calendula flower. Not only are we totally crushing on the innovative formulas that are in the packaging but we're in love with the sustainable sugarcane-derived tubes as well.

    Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

    Keep reading Show less
    Shop

    100 unusual + surprising baby name ideas

    From Adelia to Ziggy.

    Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

    Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

    Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.


    Keep reading Show less
    Learn + Play