As mom’s our lives are full of “firsts” with our children. Some of these firsts are exciting milestones and some firsts are not as joyous. One of the most dreaded firsts for a mom: the first day back to work after maternity leave.
Aurora is my first child so this was my very first time experiencing maternity leave and that big day of going back to work. As I unfortunately did not have paid maternity leave, I returned back to work after just eight weeks rather than doing the common twelve week leave. Financially, I simply could not afford to miss more work.
I have always been a pretty emotional person, even before all of the pregnancy and post pregnancy hormones and all of their glory, so I was certainly nervous about how I would react to Aurora’s first day at daycare. I was also especially nervous because I have diagnosed anxiety as it is, but now I have the anxiety of being a mother added to that. I was concerned that I would make a spectacle out of myself, not only at daycare but also at my office by crying and the whole works.
Surprisingly, I did not shed a single tear. As the day went on I was also relieved and realized that I had nothing to worry about. This is in large part due to the amazing daycare center that Aurora attends and their amazing staff. From the moment I toured the center I knew they were going to be a perfect fit. The other amazing thing that the center offers is access to an app called Daily Connect. I was able to download the app to my smartphone and also receive email notifications. Via Daily Connect I am able to check in on Aurora whenever I want to. The daycare staff enters in information throughout the day such as logging her sleeping, eating and diaper changing schedules and notifications of what activities she’s doing. They even send pictures of her throughout the day. I never have to worry about how or what she’s doing because I can check in an instant.
I am also very blessed that I get to work in an office full of amazing, understanding people.
My bosses and colleagues are all very supportive and understanding about the stresses and anxieties of having a child, especially since most have children of their own. I am also fortunate to work somewhere that allows the use of personal cell phones. I am able to check in on the Daily Connect app whenever I want without fear that I will be reprimanded. This made my first day back so much easier because I received nothing but support and encouragement from my officemates.
In fact, my first day back to work went so well that I found myself almost feeling guilty that I wasn’t struggling and having a hard time. Instead of appreciating the fact that I was having a great day back I was thinking that there must be something wrong with me. From what I have a noticed on social media, most moms lament about how they cried all day on their first day back to work and exclaim how miserable it was. Here I was, having a great day and genuinely excited to get back into my everyday routine. It’s important not to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others on social media. I’m sure I’m not the only mom that has had a great first day back to work but also didn’t announce that all over social media. We almost feel obligated to be a certain way or maintain a certain image on social media of how we think a mom should act or feel.
I got over the moment of guilt fairly quickly and took the time to appreciate how wonderful my day back was. I kind of basked in that feeling as an accomplishment of sorts. I really valued that I was able to overcome my own personal anxiety, as well as the typical mom anxiety, and turn what is usually an awful day for most moms into something positive. Here are some tips for you to have a great first day back:
- Ask your daycare of caregiver if they use an app similar to Daily Connect. If not, ask them if they mind sending you pictures or videos twice a day.
- Discuss your needs with your employer ahead of time. If you will need nursing breaks or breaks to check-in with the daycare center, share this with your boss before you return so that they are aware.
- Don’t expect the worse! Don’t expect to have a bad day! Be positive and optimistic about your experience.
- Share your journey with other moms at work. Once you return, there are probably a few other moms in the office who have had the same experience. They will encourage you and have good advice!
Like most moms, you may have some anxious thoughts about returning to work. Remember, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). Pray about your return to work, have faith and be optimistic about the transition. You got this!