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Anxiety of Going Back to Work

Dear Debi,
My maternity leave is over in two weeks & I’m leaving my daughter in child care for the first time. I’m really nervous. What can I do to make this easier for both of us?
Gema Tapia
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
  • Plan ahead
  • Make sure that your baby is in good care
  • Have a good support system in place
  • Keep in close touch with your child care provider
  • Spend time with your family when you’re not at work
Expert Advice
Laura Cardenas
Laura Cardenas
Clinical therapist, mother of three
I am going through this myself right now as I’ve begun returning to work and I have a 2-month-old daughter. Going back to work after a new baby can be stressful for most women. Women often feel a mix of emotions. The severity of anxiety depends on the individual and depends on how much they’ve prepared ahead of time to return to work. Many women feel guilt, while some feel loss, guilt and anger. Most women question whether they are returning to work too soon. Most worry whether the caregiver is going to do everything they are supposed to be doing.

Women have usually carried the child for nine months – then spent the first couple of months with the baby. It’s not easy to give this child, which you have focused so intensely on for almost a year, over to someone else to help care for without worrying. Many mothers, at this time, are questioning whether they are good mothers.

Prioritizing Your Family
Make sure your family comes first when you’re not at work. Don’t try to be a “superwoman.” Many women are overdoing everything during this time. Know when you’re overextending yourself. Go with your gut feeling. Do what feels right for you. Don’t let things overwhelm you. Take things one step at a time. Don’t let your concern over a spotless house take away time from your new baby. Let go of nonessential commitments. Enlist your family at this time. Tell them of your concerns, feelings and fears. Accept your family’s help, if offered. Ask for help if you need it.

Choosing a Child Care Provider
There are several things a parent should look for when choosing a child care provider. Find a person who will work with you to meet your needs – someone who will allow you to be as involved as you need to be. If you are breastfeeding, select someone who knows how to store breast milk and someone who will accommodate your breastfeeding needs. If you want your baby fed at a certain time so that your child is ready to breastfeed when you pick him or her up, then make sure the provider can accommodate you.

Easing the Transition Back to Work
There are several things parents can do to help make the transition back to work easier. Make sure that you’re comfortable with your child care. Before going back to work, leave your child with the child care provider on a part-time basis to allow both you and your baby to become accustomed to the transition.

If you can, transition back to work slowly. If you can, start by going back to work part-time or see if your employer will allow flexible hours. Check with your employer to see if they will allow you to return to work on a Wednesday or a Thursday, instead of Monday. This makes your first week back at work shorter.
Caregiver Comments
Bridgette Klaus
Bridgette Klaus
To help my transition back to work, I left the baby with my mom for short periods of time to make sure everyone was comfortable. My mom has been a great help to us. My first day back at work, my mom e-mailed me pictures of what Carissa was doing. Those made me cry at first, but now I love getting pictures to see what she is doing and how happy she is. I call my mom’s house once a day. She will put the phone on speaker and let me talk to the baby. I keep lots of pictures of her on my desk at work. When I would bring her to my mom’s in the morning, my mom leaves me alone with her to breast feed. When I pick her up, my mom gives me the alone time to again reestablish the bond.
Terry Tschinkel
Terry Tschinkel
To ease me into taking care of my granddaughter, I spent progressively more time with the baby over at my daughter, Bridgette’s, house. She would leave the baby at my home to go to the store or when she had an evening client. Even if the baby wasn’t awake, I would spend time with her. It eased everybody into the situation. Now, I watch Carissa four days a week at my house. Also, Bridgette went to a support group for nursing young mothers at a hospital. That helped a lot to talk with other moms to see how they are doing.
Consuelo Ducoing
Consuelo Ducoing
Child care provider for 14 years
I help new parents by encouraging them to call me any time they want. I'm a parent so I know that they are going to feel some anxiety at first. By giving them the choice to call me whenever they want, I know it will help them release some of that stress and feel confident that their child is fine.
Parent Comments
Robbie Ayers
Robbie Ayers
Father of 4-month-old twins
My supervisor encouraged me to look into paternity leave. My workplace was very flexible with me and really allowed me to put my family first. When it was time for me to return to work, I honestly felt an assortment of emotions. I had a little bit of anxiety, happiness, and a little guilt. I was happy because I was able to go back to my routine. I was able to have adult-peer relationships again. That ties to the guilt because, for me, in a way, going back to work is restarting my old lifestyle – how I lived before the girls came. I felt guilty knowing that my life got back to the way it was. My wife’s life changed 100%. There was a 180-degree turn around for her. She had worked up until the last two months before the girls were born. Now, she was running the house alone with our twin girls. I was hoping she would be able to handle it alone.

Memory Book Featured Activity:
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Anxiety of Going Back to Work Featured Video:
Anxiety of Going Back to Work
Topic: Child Care Management
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