Returning to Work

As you find your way as a mother and a working woman, other employed mothers will be your best teachers. And what they'll probably tell you is this: "If you find a good childcare provider, you'll do anything to keep her because she's so valuable."

It's natural to feel uneasy or sad about your baby's closeness to that warm, nurturing provider you worked so hard to find. Working mothers who look back on the first year, however, tend to feel that being with other people was a positive for their child. You have introduced another person into your infant's life who cares about him and is happy to see him. And babies still know who their parents are and are fondest of them.

It's also natural to worry about returning to that other big part of your life: your job. There's often a honeymoon period when everyone wants to see pictures and talk about the baby. But that ends, and you’re supposed to back to "normal."

It may help to talk to your boss -- before you return -- about your job duties and schedule. Listen to other employed women and their stories of combining work and family life. Draw on several ideas and suggestions, rather than trying to find a single, perfect role model. Also look for books on the topic.

Some co-workers will be very supportive and helpful: "I'll cover for you if you cover for me." Other people may be insensitive. If your work environment is not friendly, give yourself permission to look for a more parent-friendly job.

Once you're working, find ways to ease the transition from the job to home. Try to take five minutes at the end of the day before rejoining your baby. You're expecting a warm reunion, but you're also hungry and tired. Try to be low-key and concentrate on quick, easy ways to feed everyone. If you have a partner, trade off who gets to spend time with the baby and who handles dinner.

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