There used to be a time when three months’ worth of time off work sounded like forever. Now it seems like minutes. Your maternity leave is almost up, and there are maybe 3,000 things that you still want (or need) to do. So, let’s narrow down that list and figure out what you need to prioritize before your maternity leave is a distant memory. And remember — you got this, mama.
1. Dress for success. You spent your last trimester in stretchy pants and flowing shirts. Then you kind of kept that whole maternity-wear thing going in the weeks after baby arrived. Now it’s time to go back to work, and you *might* need some outfits that don’t involve belly bands or hoodies. Go through your pre-baby wardrobe and try everything on. Yes, everything. This includes the cute camis that you used to wear under your favorite work blouses and all of those push-you-in-and-up undergarments. Keep what fits at the front of your closet, and buy a few new key pieces to mix and match in.
2. Cook and freeze. Those first few weeks back to work will be seriously hectic. It’s okay — you can get through it. The last thing you’ll want to do after a busy day of work — and picking up baby from daycare — is cooking dinner. Before heading back to work, cook ahead. Plan as many meals as possible, prep them and pop them into the freezer. Reheating is a zillion times easier than starting from scratch when you’re in a post-maternity-leave haze.
3. Get pumping. Breastfeeding baby when you go back to work won’t be easy, but it’s not impossible. Plenty of mamas do it. You’ll need to pump and prep bottles to keep baby well fed. Start pumping a few weeks before your return date — this helps you keep your milk supply up and gives you time to get used to the pump. It also helps your baby adjust to the bottle. Instead of always feeding her, have your S.O., the sitter, or someone else you trust give her the bottle. You can also freeze some of your milk, which makes it easier to feed baby (without constantly pumping) when you go back to work.
4. Set up a backup. There was no way you were waiting until the baby got here to look for an acceptable daycare option. You visited center after center, interviewed nannies, and tried to work out a deal with your MIL. You’ve got the whole child care thing totally under control… um, that is until your four-month-old has a fever and her daycare won’t take her, or the nanny “forgets” to tell you that she’s going away for a long weekend. Along with primary care, figure out a back-up plan before you go back to work. Ask your friends (who are parents) about a possible child care exchange, talk to your neighbor about filling in if needed, or take stock of which relatives could spend a day with your little one.
5. Make mom friends. Getting back to those long lunches and after-work margaritas with your coworkers is one of the perks of going back to work. Even though you’ve got your office friends, college besties, and neighborhood acquaintances, rustling up some mom friends wouldn’t be a bad idea right now. You’ll have someone to set up play dates with, talk about baby stuff with, and maybe even babysit when you’re in a pinch.
6. Do nothing. Well, maybe not nothing. But this is the perfect time to cuddle, rock, stroll, and nap with your baby. Take a few lazy afternoons and do nothing but hang with your newborn. Forget about grocery shopping, doing laundry, or anything else that doesn’t involve kicking it with your baby!
What’s your top must-do activity before going back to work? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Brit + Co and Getty)