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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.

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.

14 sweet 'just thinking of you' gifts for every mama

A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

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This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.

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Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.

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Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.

$45

Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!

$23

Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.

$30

Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.

$39

'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."

$35

Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.

$24

Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.

$22

Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!

$25

Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.

$32

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.

$105

Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.

$17

Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.

$68

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