The way I felt during my last two weeks before going back to work after my first baby felt like a Looney Toons cartoon. I was Wylie Coyote at the edge of cliff being pulled by an anvil attached to a rope that was attached to my foot. Like the cartoon I was frantically trying to move my feet backwards to avoid the inevitable plung. My emotion-soaked brain strategized that it was better to maximize every precious last minute with baby while on leave. I didn’t plan, I was trying to deny the reality and in particular I didn’t practice childcare in those last weeks because that would take away from our fleeting bonding time.
That all-or-nothing strategy back-fired because it made her transition with childcare so very hard and my first weeks at work emotionally excruciating. In my Wylie Coyote weeks leading up to my return I should have been preparing my BABY, my BOSS and my BRAIN to go back to work. (And I cover how to do THAT in my upcoming workshops, check them out and learn how to finally feel ready to go back to work!).
One of the biggest areas I was in denial about was the fact that I was gonna be a working mom. Intellectually I knew what that was and I had talked to other moms but my heart was not ready. I knew that I fundamentally felt like a transformed person but how do I reconcile that when I go back to a workplace that is exactly the way I left it. Will they ‘get’ me now? Did I even know who I was anymore?
If you can relate, you are not alone. Unfortunately this is too common and my passion and mission is to help more women feel empowered, not drained, by this time in their lives. Here are some things I recommend prior to going back that will help you process the emotions and honor your journey:
- Write. Breathe. Repeat. I’m a big fan of writing out all your feelings and the reason is that as you go along you uncover some gnarly stuff. The first few sentences are the obvious stuff the next few sentences feel make you raise your eyebrows, and then after that, it’s ‘game on’. Even if you don’t journal, I encourage you to sit down one quiet night or morning and let it all out. Tell your boss how you feel, share your sadness, your guilt, your excitement, your burden, your grocery list. Whatever flows out is cool. This is an emotional time and writing will help to get it out in a healthy way.
- Gather your tribe. Check out my recent post about the 5 Most Important Women You Need When You Go Back to Work.
- Laugh. Be Silly. Each a Cupcake for Breakfast. You get an official ‘free pass’ from me to do whatever you want in order to feel free. Laugh your ass of at a funny movie, forgoe your green smootie and luxuriate in a hot fudge sundae or let your caboose get loose! Sister, life is serious and we need more silliness…go for it.
- Be aware of thoughts then feelings. After you dance around naked it’s time to face reality and go back to work. In those days before and after you go back, try to listen for some thoughts that don’t support your wellbeing. Common thoughts about not feeling like a good mom, or not productive at work or making a mistake will pop up in your mind. These thoughts lead to emotions. It’s ok. You are ok. In fact, you are wonderful. Let the emotions flow if you are in a place where you feel comfortable. Processing, accepting and allowing these emotions at this time in your life is totally normal and is the best thing you can do. So be aware of the thoughts, try to not focus on the negative ones and just know that “this too shall pass”.
Supporting your heart and mind at this time in your life will help your spirit move through the transition back to work. You CAN do it. I’m so proud of you! Leave a reply below with a way that you can support your mind and heart!