The birth of a child can be an exhilarating and life-changing experience. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the world through a brand new person’s eyes and watching your child learn and develop new skills. At the same time, however, a new baby creates all sorts of demands for juggling priorities, performing when you are deprived of sleep, and wanting to meet all your responsibilities as best you can.
For many women, rejoining the work force after maternity leave can be an overwhelming and emotional experience, particularly if the job they are returning to is a stressful one. Read on for six tips to ease the transition back onto the (paid) job.
- Have reasonable expectations – Having a new baby is a huge life event. Pair that with having a stressful job, and it can be a recipe for feeling overwhelmed and having the odd thing fall through the cracks. If you are expecting to balance everything in your life seamlessly, you will be setting yourself up for disappointment and additional stress. So, be realistic, and remember that sometimes “good enough” is really good enough.
- Practice Self-Compassion – Be kind to yourself! Instead of focusing on areas in which you feel like you are falling short, give yourself credit for all that you are doing. Once you start to pay attention, you will realize that you’re actually accomplishing quite a bit!
- Deep Breathe – When you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed, take a few minutes to engage in abdominal breathing (imagine you have a balloon in your stomach that you are filling with air on the inhale; as you exhale, imagine the balloon deflating). This simple act will relax your body and help you feel calmer.
- Get support – Take the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” to heart. People with supportive relationships are better able to manage stress. When people offer you help, take it. If no one offers, ask for it. Even if it is asking someone to pick up some groceries or watch the baby while you take a nap, the additional support will provide you with much-needed opportunities to focus on your own self-care. This is particularly important if you work a job with long hours.
- Be flexible – While it would be nice to completely separate your work and home life, depending on the job, that may not be possible. Your expectations and thoughts about a situation can either increase or decrease your stress, so maintain a sense of flexibility. When you are with your baby, savor that time together and be fully present for him or her. But, when the baby sleeps, if you need to send some emails or tend to your work in other ways, do it. Work-life integration can really work for you.
- Remember “this too shall pass” – During a sleep-deprived day at work (as a result of waking up four times to nurse your baby), it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But, you will get through this phase, your baby will gain more independence, and you’ll have some more of your time back. I remember being in week 38 feeling like my pregnancy and the discomfort of carrying around a (10 pound) human being would never end, but obviously it did! Think back to other challenging situations that you got through, to remind yourself that you have it in you. You can do it!
Dr. Patricia Thompson is a corporate psychologist, life coach, mom, and author of “The Consummate Leader: a Holistic Guide to Inspiring Growth in Others…and in Yourself.” Named by Athleta and MindBodyGreen as one of 100 Women to Watch in Wellness, she is passionate about helping busy moms achieve greater success and fulfillment at home, and at work. To sign up for her free video series on the 6 Keys to Personal Transformation, visit www.patricia-thompson.com/signup.