You’ll never feel the same after a parental leave. A couple of months ago, you left the office as an accomplished career woman. You were on your way to the top or at least, trying your best to. You didn’t think that the joy of motherhood would derail your career growth. But alas, your child is born. Your life will never be the same. And as much as we want to deny that our careers will continue to flourish even after giving birth, that’s not a story for every mother. For most, their time will never be theirs alone again.
There’s a flood of emotions that will wash over you after you drop off your kid to a child care facility on your first day back to work. First, you’ll worry that you may not be up to work just yet. Second, you’ll worry if your kid is going to be safe with their caregivers. And third, you’ll worry if you made the right choice. In short, you’ll worry about a million things on your first day back.
How can you stay sane? Are these feelings normal? Are you going crazy?
This transition is like no other. It’s not like going back to work after a week of traveling around Europe. The changes are going to surprise you. Be gentle with yourself. There’s no reason to rush into things. Even your boss will understand your need to take everything slowly.
Everything is changing in your life. You’re not only taking care of yourself and your partner, but you’re also taking care of tiny humans who depend on you. For most parents, this means never going to get the full eight hours of sleep they need to function well. They’re basically operating on a five-hour sleep (if they’re lucky). Their days are fueled by cups of coffee that have gone cold.
Then, of course, you’re going through this whole range of emotions about your decision to go back to work. Did you do the right thing? But you need to work because your finances are going to be in trouble. So did you do the right thing living your kid with their grandparents or hiring a caregiver or enrolling them in a daycare center? And then, you’re also feeling a bit insecure about going back to work. You aren’t even sure that you’re ready to deal with your bosses and officemates, much less prepare reports and presentations.
But insecurities are also normal in this kind of transition. You are bound to feel inadequate because you’ve just spent the past two months breastfeeding and changing diapers. You are not sure about your skill level anymore. On top of that, you’re also feeling guilty about needing to go back to work.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. These feelings are normal. It’s perfectly okay to feel guilty about leaving your kids or not doing good at work. That’s part of being human, and these feelings mean that you’re a good worker and an even better parent. Instead of feeling free for not needing to take care of your kids, you’re worried about them. And instead of slouching off at work, you’re concerned that you may not be doing enough for the company.