Courtesy of Josiah Mannon

What To Do Your 1st Day Back From Maternity Leave

The first day back from maternity leave can be brutal. There's a learning curve when attempting to ease into the swing of things and, as a result, you feel out of your element (at least I did) for a while. You desperately miss your baby and all of the snuggling, daytime napping, and shirtless Netflix time you had. You have to learn a new routine that meets all your needs. It sucks. To make it suck a little less, I recommend that every mom do some things on her first day back from maternity leave.

For me, going back to work after maternity leave meant facing a giant inbox full of emails (half of which involved donuts in the break room), meeting with my boss about adjustments I wanted to make to my work schedule and work load, figuring out a new commute, child care, pumping breast milk, getting sh*t done when I felt like napping or crying, and trying to get out of the office before daycare closed. Definitely not for the weak.

There were some things I did for myself on that first day back. New clothes that fit my new body and pumping needs, makeup, coffee from my favorite shop on the way to work, and lunch at the Pakistani restaurant up the street from my office. I also took some time to reflect on what changes I wanted to make to my schedule, job duties, and office space to accommodate my needs as a working mother. Finally, I just tried to stay steady and not get overwhelmed by the intensity of it all. So, with that in mind, here are a few things that worked for me to make my first day back bearable.

Wear Clothes That Fit

I highly recommend getting yourself some new clothes. You body is likely still shaped a bit different than before you grew a human and, well, everyone feels best in clothes that fit. Just say no to too tight clothes.

Also, tunics and leggings are in right now and easy to pump in. Say yes to feeling comfortable and looking amazing.

Keep Breathing

You can do this. Just take things one step at a time and ease your way back into your job. It may be hard, but trust me, you are going to make it through the day relatively unscathed, and your baby will be fine. I promise

Call Daycare

It's OK to call the person or people who are watching your baby and check in. I promise they are fine. Maybe too fine, even. (Kidding.) Baby will miss you, but you'll be there to get them or home at the end of the day.

Put On Makeup

Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

I spent a little time putting on makeup and doing my hair to look and feel awesome on my first day back.

Go Out For Lunch

Remember that place you used to go with your work friends? Go there. If you don't have time, order take-out. You deserve it.

Take Things Slow

You don't have to drink the ocean. Take things slow. Make to-do lists and do some project planning and prioritization with your team to make sure you work smarter and not harder.

Smartly Sort Through Email

Speaking of smart, my advice is to break up email review into 2-3 hour chunks on your first day back and no more. First, review emails from the past week to see what's urgent or time sensitive that needs to be reviewed and acted on first. Then, search by subject and delete any messages about donuts, lunch, or cake in the break room and jokes (unless you need a laugh). Then, look at any meeting requests. Finally, start from the beginning of your leave and place things in folders by topic. You'll thank me.

Meet With Your Boss

It's a great idea to schedule a check in with your boss, even if you don't think anything might change in your work life. I successfully negotiated a new work schedule that allowed me to work from home half time and work two days in the office. It helped us juggle child care, work, and home responsibilities and, honestly, I was a way better employee when able to spend more time with my daughter.

Stay Awake

Coffee is life. Sleep deprivation is real. Figure out whatever you need to make it through the work day without falling asleep (or at least try not to get caught).

Find A New Routine

Your first day back at work is your first day of a new normal. I recommend figuring out a new routine and doing a dry run with day care drop off and pick up and your new commute the day before you go back.

(It might be a great time to go shopping or to get your hair done or just have some alone time, too.)

Leave Work On Time

Don't feel pressured to stay late or leave to late to make it to day care on time for pick up. Set an alarm on your phone or calendar to remind you to get moving on time (or to wake you up from your afternoon desk nap).

Remember, you've got this. You can totally do it all. I believe in you.