Congrats on surviving the first couple of weeks of having your baby!
You have learned to (somewhat) successfully navigate the sleepless nights, the endless diaper changes, and how to deal with constantly being tired.
Now it’s time to head back to work.
At first, you’re thrilled at being out of the house, looking put together, and being able to drop your precious bundle of joy off at a daycare and pick him/her up a couple hours later healthy, happy, and well-fed.
You settle into your desk and rearrange the new baby photos you brought from home and replace the dog and wedding pictures.
Then it hits you–you miss your baby. A lot. A lot, a lot.
It’s not exactly guilt, and it’s not exactly not guilt–you can’t describe it, you just feel the need to be with your baby. All day.
You can’t enjoy your pre-packed lunch and find yourself sniffling at your welcome back party.
Don’t worry–you’re not alone!
Statistically, 43% of women leave their jobs after having children to raise them full-time. That means almost half of the women in the workforce experience exactly what you’re feeling and leave their respective vocations to pursue a home-making life.
If that is not what you have envisioned for yourself or not the future you want, that is fine too.
Here are some tips on how to cope with missing your little one:
Cut the guilt
The holy grail and most important piece of advice I can give you would be NOT to indulge your feelings of guilt. Whether you choose to be in the office because of finances, mental health, or any other reason there is no excuse to feel like a bad mother for not staying at home with your baby. Your baby is being well taken care of at the nursery or with the childcare option you’ve chosen, and your precious bundle of joy will still remember you when you get home. I promise. Guilt is a toxic emotion and can manifest itself in poor work performance, irritability, and even resentment of your child.
Look at the pictures on your desk with joy
This is an important one. When looking at the baby pictures on your desk or when showing them to coworkers, look at them with joy and pride and immediately shut down the emotions of guilt and sadness that can easily creep up. When people ask how much you miss your baby answer with a simple “a lot”, no one expects the torrential tears that threaten you. Repeat a mantra in your head of “I am blessed to have my baby, and I am lucky to be here as well”.
Keep check-ins regulated
If you dropped your daughter or son off at a daycare that sends picture and text updates, request to have them sent at the same time (lunch hour works as well) every day. In that way you aren’t hanging on your phone all day worried you’ll miss a cute moment, and you’ll be able to concentrate on your task at hand.
Remind yourself how fortunate you are to be employed
As I mentioned previously with the mantra of “I am fortunate and blessed to have my baby and I and lucky to be here as well,” you are fortunate to have a stable job and income. In a modern-day economy, it’s a tough job market and as a working mother, you are the contemporary version of Super Woman.
Working for any reason when you’re a new mother is something to be applauded–so good for you!
The holy grail and most important piece of advice I can give you would be NOT to indulge your feelings of guilt.
Make the most out of the time you do have
When you get home from work and have time to spend with your baby, make the most of it. Whether it’s with your partner as well or just bonding with the two of you, really be present. Try and put your phone away, and keep work issues at work when you’re home. Sometimes it helps to envision a ‘workbox’ where you mentally pack up all the work-related stress into a neat container and put it away until tomorrow morning.
You’re at work sans baby. Sip your coffee, and enjoy the crying-free air.
Lean back at your desk and savor the silence and adult conversation.