Back at work, already? If you are like most new mothers, you may experience conflicting feelings about returning to work. It may be difficult to leave your new little one, but you might secretly look forward to uninterrupted lunches and bathroom breaks.You may also find that you don’t care as much about the work you do, whereas you were deeply committed before you had your baby. This is common in the beginning, but over time your interest will most likely return.
You might worry that your baby will miss you while you are at work or not remember you when you return home after a long day. Rest assured, for the first six months, babies don’t know that people or objects exist outside their line of sight. So chances are your baby won’t be distressed when you are somewhere else. However, you can feel secure that your baby knows exactly who you are – she recognized your voice at birth and studied your face for hours on end and she will show her excitement when you come through the door at the end of the day.
Be prepared that your boss and co-workers will probably not be thinking about your baby all day long like you are. They may not ask about your little bundle and might even forget that you are going through a life-changing experience. They will not realize that you’re a different person and will probably expect the same level of work from you as they did before your “vacation.”
Some women forget themselves that they are changed and expect the 200% effort at work that they gave before the baby. Chances are they are still operating at 100% – which is invariably good enough for most bosses and clients.
My advice is to ask yourself if anyone (besides you) is complaining about your work. If not, try letting it go and save the other 100% for your family.
-Kim Heyman, LCSW
Kim Heyman is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 11 years experience working with children and their families. She has a private psychotherapy practice in Los Angeles with a focus on postpartum issues and adjustment to parenthood. Kim also facilitates a Working Mother Support Group in Santa Monica. She says her best credential is being a mother to two busy boys ages 3 and 6.