Keeping It Together
Set Aside Time for Your "Mommy Life"
You've probably made a handful of new "mom friends" while on leave. Don't put those friendships on the back burner once you start working. "Relationships with other moms are vital," says Ladd. "You need them for emotional support." Aim for regular weekend get-togethers. Gina Yager, mother of 5-month-old Mia, made it a point not to lose touch with her new friends when she went back to work. "On Saturdays, I'll meet the girls and their babies at a coffee shop, and I've also joined a 'mom and baby' yoga class," says the mom from Henderson, Nevada. "And I stay in touch during the week through our online support group."
Keep It Together at the Office
Although you might feel like an absolute wreck when you're at your desk -- worrying about your baby, feeling physically and mentally exhausted, being daunted by the piles of work that have built up in your absence -- don't let your boss think you're off your game. Keep your concerns to yourself, and avoid venting to your coworkers. Remember, your new juggling act might even make you more productive. "I'm a better boss now that I'm a mom," says Sue Hermann, of Denver, mother of Sarah, 3, and Sophie, 10 months. "I'm more willing to delegate, more able to think outside of the box, and definitely better able to multitask."
Hang in There
In your first few months back on the job, you will undoubtedly encounter days when you decide that you can't manage and need to quit. But stick with it -- at least for a while. Experts say most moms need time to get used to a new routine. If after a few months you're still unable to cope, think about asking your boss for a flex schedule that lets you work from home one or two days a week, or for a part-time arrangement. Come up with a concrete plan before approaching your boss. "But be prepared for the possibility that your boss will reject your proposal and give you an all-or-nothing ultimatum," warns Donna Lenhoff, JD, a Washington, D.C., lawyer who specializes in work-family issues. If that's the case, maybe it's time to consider whether this job is right for you. "Your goal," says Ladd, "is to find a healthy balance that works for you, your career, and your family."