NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Maternity leave is a special time to bond with your new bundle of joy, but when your leave comes to an end, entrusting your child to someone else's care and returning to the rigors of career life can be daunting, to say the least.
"I hear from so many moms that they just can't find their new stride, or they don't have a sense of peace as either a mom or an employee anymore," says Katie Bugbee, senior managing editor of Care.com. (CRCM)
Though dealing with "mommy guilt," battling sleep deprivation and juggling the many responsibilities of work and motherhood may seem exhausting, there are healthy, effective ways to strike a balance between your career and your family life.
Here are eight essential tips to help you survive and thrive during your first few months back on the job.
Let Go of Guilt
Saying goodbye to your little one each morning as you head to work can make you feel like a "bad mommy." While it's perfectly normal to feel separation anxiety and guilt at the start of your maternity leave, try not to beat yourself up about it.
"I think it's quite common to have 'mommy guilt,' and I've discussed this with many of my patients as they return to work," says clinical psychologist Susan Benjamin Feingold, author of Happy Endings, New Beginnings: Navigating Postpartum Disorders (New Horizon Press, 2013). "My take on it is this: We have unrealistic expectations that we can and should do it all and then feel terribly guilty that we can't live up to these ideals of being the perfect mom."
When you're feeling down, try reflecting on how your choice to go back to work is positively impacting your family.
"Mothers for whom work is a source of their life satisfaction, purpose and identity risk resenting their child if they choose to leave [their job], and mothers for whom it's financially necessary can translate the guilt into pride at being able to financially support her family," says Lara Honos-Webb, a clinical psychologist in the San Francisco Bay area and author of Listening to Depression: How Understanding Your Pain Can Heal Your Life (New Harbinger Publications, 2006). "One of the best gifts a mother can give a child is being a role model of mental health, and if working is integral to a woman's well-being, she can tell herself she is giving her child a happy, healthy mother."