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Returning to Work as a New Parent

Tips to make your readjustment to office life smoother.

Key points

  • Returning to work as a new parent can be overwhelming. Be patient with yourself and rely on others for support and guidance.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to socialize with colleagues.
  • Practice open communication with your boss, asking questions to ensure you are up to speed.
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The first week back to work is both emotionally stressful and physically exhausting. New parents are often operating on less-than-ideal sleep. They are sometimes concerned with issues of childcare, feeding schedules, etc.

Some new parents may feel that they are expected to pop right back to work without missing a beat, despite this very large life event. The good news is that most employers recognize the significance of having a new baby and are there to help make the transition back to work more manageable.

Follow these tips to help make your adjustment a bit easier:

  1. Permit yourself to feel emotional on your first day back. Some new parents are ready to jump right in and feel guilty that they are so excited to get back to work. Other new parents feel guilty leaving their baby and may resent going back to work. Allow yourself to have these feelings and remind yourself that it is normal to be more emotional than you might expect. Also, be prepared for your emotions to be less-than-predictable while you adjust.
  2. Ask your manager or HR representative about support groups at your organization. Many organizations have resources for new parents. You may be surprised to find a support group or other free services. If no on-site programs are available, consider joining a new parent’s group online or at a local community center. This outlet is incredibly beneficial to those who need some support from others in the same position.
  3. Accept that lunch or coffee date. Take advantage of some grownup (sans baby) time to catch up with a colleague or learn some tips from another new parent. This time away from the baby may give you the opportunity to reconnect with other adults and talk about your other interests or passions. You might even swap parenting tips with others who have children.
  4. Jot down any outstanding questions about job duties and upcoming projects. It’s common to be a bit forgetful when you first jump back to work. So, if you are confused about a project or deliverable, don’t fret—just ask for more details. Remember that things may have changed while you were out of the office. So, avoid possible double work and ask before making assumptions about expectations.
  5. Ask your boss for a touch-base meeting. It’s a great idea to meet with your boss to find out how she thinks things are going during the first few days of your transition. Find out which projects should be on top of your to-do list. And maybe even show her a picture of your little one!
  6. Practice self-care. This is arguably the most important tip. By taking care of yourself, you are better able to take care of those around you. Consider using a mindfulness app or practice deep breathing. Even 10 minutes of mindfulness practice a day can do wonders for your mental health and emotional stability.

Copyright© 2022 Amy Cooper Hakim

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