With my first born Isla, I remember the days leading up to returning to work (cough cough paid work) being filled with mixed emotions.
On one side, I was excited to have adult conversations again & sink my teeth into my career. But on the other, the idea of leaving my baby was completely daunting.
So with hindsight under my belt, here are my top 5 tips to help you smoothly transition back into the workforce.
1. Fill up your memory bank
If you're like me, your work days are normally filled with meetings, presentations and deadlines.
So before you make the switch back to reality, fill your days with as much family time as possible.
Say 'yes' to all the play dates, fun activities with your friends and take all the pictures and videos you can. *Some days, those photos are exactly what you need to keep motivated
And last but not least, practice gratitude (something I can only preach second time around). Knowing I was on borrowed time, I tried to make the most of every second with Jack. Like most of us, the time "off" is a unique period in our lives - so make as many happy memories as possible.
2. Acknowledge that you've changed & reset your expectations
Imposter syndrome. A common feeling parents have as they mentally prepare to come back into the workforce. The person you were pre-kids feels like a distant memory, and you start to question how (and if) you will be able to slot into your old role.
But this change shouldn't be a negative. Yes, your old role may have evolved. And your priorities may have shifted, but that's ok. Acknowledge it. Set the tone early on so expectations can be managed by all.
And remember, the hardest working person in the team is often a sleep deprived parent. You will surprise yourself with how efficient you can be when you need to juggle family and work.
3. Simplify your life
The groundwork for any working mum...
Having two children now, the logistics of getting everyone dressed, fed and off to care have doubled. Not to mention, you still need to get yourself presentable for that cheeky 9am preso!
So ask yourself, how can I simplify my working week?
Can the kids be fed breakfast at daycare? Can you & your partner WFH to ease transit times?
My biggest mum hack was babywearing when WFH. During non-video calls, I was able to keep bub close enough to be calm (and possibly asleep), which allowed me to be hands-free so I didn't fall behind in work.
4. Find a daycare or nanny that gives you Mary Poppins vibes
Being a protective mama bear, I hated the thought of someone else looking after my children. That's why it's imperative to find care that feels like an extension of your home - a safe space that you know is the right fit for you and your family.
Book as many tours as you can to get a shortlist together. With waitlists for almost everything child related, you want to have at least two centres that you would be happy to send your child to.
And before their first day, get comfy with the centre - book 'play & stays' so your child can be familiar & happy with their new routine.
And lastly, say hello to the fellow day-care parents!
These parents are all in the same boat as you. When the tears start rolling at that first drop off, or when you get the many rounds of daycare bugs - a friendly face to comfort you can make all the difference.
And if you're lucky enough, you might just make some new lifelong friends.
5. Keep 'mum-guilt' at bay
Returning to work after any extended leave will always have its teething issues. And although it's in a mum's DNA to try and do it all, lean into the transition period and get support where you need.
Take comfort in knowing your bub is having a sensory overload at daycare. They're getting social with other babies and having the time of their little lives.
It's now time for you to get creative again, to have a hot coffee and pop on your power suit and do (one of the many) things you do best!
Be kind to yourself, and good-luck mama xx