Lauren Brody (pictured above) is a new friend of mine with a brand new book that I really wish was around seven years ago when I first went back to work after Mazzy was born— The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom’s Guide to Style, Sanity, and Big Success After Baby. Whether you are just trying to maintain your sanity or orchestrate an office takeover, Lauren’s gentle guidance and useful strategies will definitely help ease you through the transition. She’s here with a guest post today!
Of course, you’ve heard the advice about never going back on a Monday, and maybe you’ve even bought a couple of those sexy nursing/pumping shirts with the pull-down flaps. Functional chic! But my interviews with hundreds of moms for my new book The Fifth Trimester turned up so much more. These moms I talked to are police officers, teachers, lawyers, self-employed freelancers, execs, nurses, even a stunt double (she’s badass), and they shared all the details of what made their transitions back to work more manageable, including…
1. Quick–teach your husband/partner a new trick. If your significant other took less parental leave than you did, chances are, you’ve been doing most of the baby work. Only, guess what? When you go back to work, you’re both going to walk in the door at the end of the day, and if he doesn’t know jack, you’re going to have a whole other second job ahead of you. TEACH him something, and ask for his help. Pronto.
2. Freeze your breast-milk baggies flat and then stack them standing up like cards to flip through–oldest to newest.
3. Make a mini closet within your closet of only the stuff that fits and feels good right now. Saves minutes and torture in the morning.
4. Do not make assumptions about your boss just because he or she doesn’t have kids. I was shocked when my survey of 700+ working moms showed very little difference between the compassion of bosses who had kids and those who didn’t. Just goes to show, we all have a tendency to judge each other, and should keep our minds open.
5. Have this quick talk with your caregiver–whether it’s your nanny, daycare staffer, mom, or nanny: “I just want to tell you now that of course I know there will be milestones I miss. Here’s what I’d like you to do if and when they happen on your watch…” And then give clear directions! Should she text you video? Or not say a word and let you experience your own “first” with the baby when you’re with her that night/weekend? Take the pressure off and make a plan.
6. Take care of your skin. The top celeb dermatologist (whose own maternity leave was cut short by residency) I interviewed had two major rules: 1) drink a ton of water (check!), and 2) wash your makeup off at the end of the day no matter how much you just want to collapse into be (sigh, check). Her logic? If you feel good about your skin, you’ll need less makeup and save time in the morning.
7. Invest in a great haircut that’ll grow out well. Same logic as above. The moms I surveyed had exactly six free minutes (six!!) every morning. You’re going to want to spend them snuggling your baby, not heating up the hot tools.
8. Take the intern’s marathon training seriously. What?! Yes, really. Everyone has a personal life, even people whose personal lives don’t spit up on their work clothes and wake them up in the middle of the night. If you genuinely care about theirs, they’ll genuinely care about yours.
9. Schedule a presentation or big meeting for 2pm. Counterintuitive, but doing something like that during the post-lunch slump pumps you full of adrenaline that will power you through the rest of the day.
10. Don’t judge your ambition level right now. Whether you feel like “leaning in,” or tipping over backwards in your chair (careful, don’t knock over the freshly pumped milk), it’s ALL good. Your fifth trimester is finite. This level of chaos will not last forever, and if you’re able to be open about both the challenges and triumphs of new working motherhood, you will help change your workplace culture for the better. You will.
I’m giving away five copies of The Fifth Trimester today! Just leave a comment below telling me a story about when you first went back to work after having your baby.
Congratulations to Kathryn Welch, Lissa R, Jessica Dillon, Victoria S and Kelly G! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to claim your prize.