For those planning on going back to work after having a baby, the low-grade stress of maternity leave ending sets in almost immediately after giving birth. How will you handle it? How will your baby handle it? But before you're forced to deal with entering the work force again -- or even if you're not going back to work -- you're likely forced to deal with another issue: your partner going back to work.
If you think maternity leave is a joke in this country, may I introduce you to paternity leave? Your partner can save up all the vacation and sick days he possibly can, but odds are, he isn't going to be able to stay home with you very long. And that first day you're alone with a tiny (screaming?) newborn can be terrifying.
But you'll get through it. Promise.
Here are 6 tips that will make life easier for you when your partner goes back to work.
1. Line up friends and family members to stop by (but not all at once). My husband went back to work two weeks after our daughter was born. Up until that point, we hadn't had many visitors -- but once he left, I lined 'em up. People typically only stayed an hour or so, but having someone with me for a small period each day helped me relax a bit (and I'd get to take a shower!).
2. Prepare the night before. If you think you're going to have a relaxing day alone with your newborn, let me tell you -- you're not. It's just Murphy's Law, friends. I don't want to scare anyone here, but the first day my husband went back to work, it was a sh**show. My daughter screamed from the moment she woke up until the minute he got home (and thereafter). I barely had time to get myself a glass of water, nevertheless food. If I would have made myself something the night before, it would have made things a little easier.
3. If the weather is appropriate, get outside. My daughter and I went for a walk every day after my husband went back to work. We'd lug the stroller down the night before (thanks for letting us keep it in the lobby, Landlord!), and around (and around) my neighborhood we'd go. We developed a ritual, actually. We'd stop in to Dunkin' Donuts for a decaf iced coffee, then walk until she woke up. It just felt good to get outside, get a little fresh air, and talk to random people. I felt less isolated, and after a few days, I felt like: Hey, I can do this!
4. Leave the TV on. I've never been a daytime TV watcher -- even on my days off, it just feels weird. But after my husband went back to work, that thing was on 24:7. It was nice to have some background noise, and I felt like I had a vague idea of what was going on outside Baby World.
5. Join a mommy group. A friend of mine suggested I join a group for new moms when my daughter was 3 weeks old. I laughed in her face at the notion that I'd be able to be somewhere specific at a certain time. But looking back, I should have. I highly doubt I'd be the first person in history not to show up to a meeting if I couldn't -- and I would have bonded with people who were going through the same thing I was.
6. Talk to someone. Talking to someone who's been there, done that really can help -- but you have to be honest. No need to act like you have everything under control if you don't -- you don't have to prove anything to anyone. Sometimes, just getting it all out there and admitting you're lonely/scared/anxious can be cathartic.
Were you nervous when your partner went back to work? How did you handle it?
More from The Stir:
Start here, with the latest stories and news in progressive parenting. Learn more