In a perfect world, new parents would be able to take off as much paid time from work as needed after having a baby. But the reality is that often times one or both parents need to go back to work.

Whether you’re going back at 6 weeks or 6 months, plan ahead to make the most of this time.

Here are 9 tips to help ease your transition into working parent:

1. Ease into it.

Take advantage of your leave and benefits. Stay in communication with your supervisor and HR so that everyone’s expectations are clear.

If you have some flexibility, try starting out with a 2 or 3 day work week and adding a day each week. Or, try working shortened days for the first couple of weeks and gradually adding on hours until you are at your ideal schedule.

2. Trust your childcare.

Remember, you have chosen a competent and caring child care provider for your precious baby. Someone that you expect to care for your baby just like you would. Talk about feedings, routines, and how you will receive daily updates. Trust in your decision,  as a new parent, that your child is in safe, loving hands.

3. Rally your family for support

Get the whole family involved. Your transition back to the workplace will affect everyone in your home. Get a family game plan together and give older siblings tasks that will help make things go smoothly. You may also need to rely on support from your network of friends and extended family.

4. Create new routines.

I know, I know. more routine adjustments. Yes.

You may have just gotten into a rhythm with your newborn but as you prepare to go back to work its time to really think about your morning and evening routines. Who will prepare meals and clean up? Who will feed and dress the baby for the day?  If you’re breastfeeding, you may find yourself spending many evening hours nursing your baby, who may be making up for missed time. That’s totally normal, but you may need to adjust accordingly, so that dinner and bedtime can get done.

5. Plan ahead for pumping at work.

Talk to you supervisor and HR representative early on about your needs as a working mom who also needs to pump during the work day. Legally, you are allowed a time and space to pump as needed but each workplace has their own set of accommodations for pumping employees.

If you will be pumping at work, invest in a powerful, electric pump over a hand pump (which you can still keep as a back up, just in case) to get the most out of your pumping breaks. Also think about pump supplies to keep on hand,  how you will store pumped milk at work and how you will get the milk home to your freezer.

6. Feel all of the feelings.

You will feel sad. You will miss your baby.  You will cry at your desk…maybe multiple times. It’s okay. Allow yourself to feel all of those feelings. This is a difficult time and it is perfectly fine to be gentle with yourself.

You might even feel overwhelmed. Did you make the right decision by returning to work?  You might feel guilty about missing out on special moments or milestone. Give yourself time and space to work through those feelings. But also remember that going to work is also a part of caring for your baby.

7.  You can still create a strong bond with your baby

Remember those guilty feelings, I mentioned above? First, let yourself feel those emotions and think about why you are feeling that way? Second, take action. Maybe you feel guilty because you want to witness your baby’s major milestones. Talk to your child’s care provider about sharing special moments and milestones with you as they happen.

Maybe you feel like your baby won’t know you anymore. I can assure you that this will not happen but it is a very real fear that some moms returning to work have. Take actions by prioritizing bonding with your baby. If you have a special song, book, or saying, sing, read or say it regularly with your baby to create little bonding moments while you are with your baby.

8. Take time for self- care.

Last, but certainly not least, carve out some time in your schedule just for some “me -time,” even if its just 10 minutes a day.  No matter what kind of mom or parent you are, you need time to recharge your batteries so that you can be at 100% for your loved ones and so you can do your best at work. Take that time, without apologies, and enjoy it.

By planning ahead for your transition back to work you will set your self up for success. And as a professional postpartum doula, I am here to support your journey.