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Checklist for Going Back to Work After Maternity Leave: You got this!

Emily Turinas

5 min read

Jun 14



Returning to work after maternity leave is a huge transition. Let's be real this can bring out all the emotions and well a lot of new challenges. As a psychologist specializing in supporting women through life transitions, I understand the importance of having a thoughtful plan in place to navigate this transition, not just for you but for your baby. Here, I provide a checklist to help you prepare for going back to work after maternity leave and make sure you have everything covered!

Checklist for Going Back to Work After Maternity Leave

  • Reflect on Your Feelings: Going back to work can be scary, exciting, sad, and well overwhelming. Take some time to journal or just talk about your emotions regarding returning to work. For example, you might write about feeling excited to get back to work and have some time to focus on your career and you. Or you might be feeling guilt or anger about leaving your baby in daycare. Acknowledge and validate these feelings as a natural part of the transition process. Remember all feelings are normal and there is no one typical feeling. Excitement about returning to work does not make you a bad mom. Just as sadness or guilt does not mean you will not be able to excel at work.

  • Communicate with Your Employer: Schedule a meeting with your employer to discuss your return to work. Provide specific details about your preferred work schedule, such as flexible hours or telecommuting options. For instance, you could say, "I would like to explore the possibility of working from home two days a week to accommodate my childcare needs." If possible, ease back into work gradually. Consider starting with part-time hours or a flexible schedule to help you adjust. This has become a little easier since COVID. If remote work is an option and you have a space you can focus in your home working remotely may allow for an easy transition back into work. If you need to submit an official letter to return to work check out our guide here.

  • Plan Childcare Arrangements: Research local daycare centers and schedule visits to find the right fit for your child (ideally you have already done this as they tend to fill up months in advanced!) Consider factors such as proximity to your workplace, hours of operation, and curriculum. If you are going the daycare route get on waitlists early!! You can also look into nanny shares, private nannies, au pairs, family members, or other childcare arrangements. Remember to create a backup plan for childcare in case of emergencies, such as having a trusted family member or friend on standby.

  • Organize Your Work Environment: Are you planning on pumping or breastfeeding during the workday? Set up a dedicated space at work for pumping or breastfeeding, if needed. Communicate your needs to HR or your supervisor, such as requesting a private room with a comfortable chair and access to a refrigerator for storing breast milk. Consider bringing in photos of your baby or a calming essential oil diffuser to create a supportive environment. If you are pumping think through how you will clean and store your pump and its parts. Look into the pump wipes if you need a quick no sink option! As well, consider if you will be needing to bring your pump home every day or if you have a spare pump for the office.

  • Establish a Routine: Create a detailed daily schedule that includes drop-off and pick-up times for childcare, work hours, breaks, and self-care activities. Use apps or digital calendars to stay organized and set reminders for important tasks. For example, you could schedule time for pumping sessions during work hours and block off time in the evening for quality time with your family. Remember to communicate with caregivers about your babies schedule so your little one keeps up with the regular naps and feeds you established. Most daycares will follow your home schedule at least when your baby is under one.

  • Build a Support Network: Join local parenting groups or online communities for working mothers. Share resources, tips, and personal experiences with other moms who are navigating similar challenges. Forming connections with supportive peers can provide a sense of camaraderie and encouragement during this transition. This is the time to reach out to your mom friends. This transition can be hard and talking to someone who has been there can make all the difference. Check out resources online from blogs to support groups, GirlBoss does a great job reviewing a few great options.

  • Prioritize Self-Care: Ok, I know this is a hard one in that first year. But try to incorporate self-care activities into your daily routine, such as taking walks during lunch breaks, practicing mindfulness meditation, or scheduling regular massages. Delegate household tasks to your partner or family members to free up time for self-care. Remember that taking care of yourself is essential for maintaining overall well-being.

  • Manage Expectations: Be realistic about what you can accomplish both at work and at home. Set achievable goals and communicate openly with your supervisor about your workload and priorities. You will likely not be able to complete as much as you could pre-baby and that is ok, you will get back to your old self in time. Learn to delegate tasks or ask for help when needed, and avoid putting unnecessary pressure on yourself to be perfect in every role. Be clear about your boundaries with work and home responsibilities. It's okay to say no to additional tasks if they interfere with your well-being. If you can afford to outsource tasks around the house like cleaning or laundry this might be the time to do so!

  • Stay Flexible: Flexibility is key to adapting to the demands of work and family life. Be prepared to adjust your schedule or plans as needed, especially during times of unexpected challenges such as sick days or childcare issues. And lets be honest those daycare colds seem never ending! Embrace a mindset of resilience and adaptability to navigate these changes effectively.

  • Seek Professional Support: If you're experiencing heightened stress, anxiety, or difficulty adjusting to work after maternity leave, consider seeking support from a mental health professional. Therapy can provide valuable coping strategies, stress management techniques, and emotional support tailored to your individual needs. I know it might not feel like you have time to prioritize yourself in this way now, but therapy can be critical to being the best mom you can be.

Returning to work after maternity leave is a significant transition that requires careful planning, self-awareness, and support. Prioritize your well-being! Tt will take time to adjust and find the right balance between your professional and personal life. Remember that every mother's journey is unique, and it's okay to ask for help and support along the way. You are resilient, capable, and deserving of a fulfilling career and a happy family life. And if it is not you but a loved one trying to manage this transition, check out Forbes article on how best to support women.

If you are interested in gaining professional support during your postpartum journey, see if Emily Turinas PhD is a good fit for you. She is a perinatal psychologist who specializes in therapy for new moms & dads, those on a fertility journey, and pregnant mamas in Austin, Texas & Denver, Colorado. Schedule a free consultation today to see how Dr. Turinas could help you build clarity and direction in the chaos of parenthood.

Emily Turinas

5 min read

Jun 14





Live Oak Psychology

Emily Turinas PhD


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