Even though it’s been more than two years since I returned to work following the birth of our second (and last) child, it’s still so fresh in my mind. When my sister-in-law reached out to ask if I had any tips as she gets ready to make her own transition for the first time, I was so thankful that the memories are so close in my mind.

Here are some things I shared with her that I thought might be helpful for others.

  • Take every hour, pumping session, meeting, email, and call one at a time.
  • Pack/pick out everything you can the night before, including what you’re going to wear, breakfast, lunch, snacks, water bottle, pump with clean parts and empty bottles, and all of the stuff baby will need.
  • Shower or take a bath the night before, if you have to be in the office. Mornings are stressful and unpredictable enough without stressing over your need for a shower.
  • Give yourself a lot of grace; you’re going to need it (some days/weeks more than others).

Remember it’s totally normal and okay to take a while to find a routine that works for everyone. No one gets it right in the first days, weeks, or sometimes even months. So much is riding on how the night goes with baby, how often they are up, and whether or not you are able to go back to sleep right away between feedings and diaper changes (nevermind if the baby is still trying to figure out nighttime and daytime).

Also, for your sanity and the love of your inner circle, let the people around you help if they can. If you need a break from baby to meal prep or make food for the week (or want others to help with that), there are folks who are here and want to support your transition. For some mamas, returning to work is a welcome relief from the 24/7 care taking required for infants. For other mamas, returning to work is a tough time as they wish they didn’t have to go back. In either case, it can be a grieving process.

This journey is unique to you, your baby, and your family, but it doesn’t mean you’re in it alone. God has put people in your life to walk with you through it and I pray that as you transition, you would sense his nearness as your good (Psalm 73:28) and the people around you as a loving support system.