You’ve birthed a human being, survived sleepless months, and figured out how to change a diaper in the dark, swaddle a baby, and maybe even take a shower. With all of that under your belt, it’s time to face your next challenge: returning to work. Most moms who’ve been-there-done-that will tell you the transition can feel a little bumpy at first but gets easier. Here are our best tips for helping you get back into your work groove.

photo: STIL via Unsplash

1. Find the right childcare.
Daycare, in-home daycare or nanny; that is the question. Knowing your little one is well taken care of will give you peace of mind to help you refocus on work. Moms who’ve been there recommend making a short list of what’s most important to you: Does your job require a lot of overtime, making schedule flexibility a top priority? Do you want to be able to see your baby during the day? Budget, work schedule, faith, language preference, food habits, and more can all influence your childcare decision, so make a list to help filter the options you’ll be considering.

If you’re looking for a nanny, cast a wide net between personal referrals, sites like Care.com and SitterCity, and a nanny agency in your area. If you’ve decided on daycare, start your research as soon as possible, ideally before your little one is born. Some daycares have extensive wait-lists, and you’ll want to visit your top choices, speak with other parents, and mine the internet for other sources of feedback.

2. Build your support network.
Does your company have a women’s or mom’s network? If so, you’ll have a readymade resource for all your new-mom questions about separation anxiety (yours and your child’s) and how to juggle everything on your plate. If not, build your own network with work peers, ideally a mix of new moms going through similar issues and old pros who can offer proven advice. Or join a local moms group (look for groups in your neighborhood or through your religious organization). Having a few trusted mom friends to reach out to will help you get through the tough timesand they’ll be there to cheer you on when you land that big client or get your first post-baby promotion!

photo: Ross Burton via Flickr

3. Stock up on essentials.
Yes, we’re telling you to shop. Before you return to work, buy the basics you’ll need for the next 6 months, from diapers and wipes to paper towels and dish soap. That way, you don’t have to think about those things as you ramp back up at work. If you can automate deliveries via a service like Amazon’s Subscribe & Save, do it. Then, make a list of the gear you’ll need to feed your baby for the next 3-6 months. And that brings us to our next two tips….

4. If you’re pumping, increase your comfort level.  
Buy a stash of nursing pads, milk storage bags, a cooler and ice packs. Also, look for items to make pumping at work more comfortable for you. Think: Freemie concealable collection cups, an inflatable foot rest, a bowl to wash pump parts in, sterilization bags, or a nursing cover for privacy.

5. If you’re formula-feeding, increase your convenience level.
Once you find a brand you and your baby like, purchase several months’ worth to avoid the dreaded realization that you’ve just finished your last can. Buy bottles in bulk to allow you to go 1-3 days between washing a batch. For extra convenience, look into products like the Mixie Baby Bottle, which allows you (or daycare or your nanny) to mix water and formula on the go, and the Tommee Tippee bottle warmer, an easy way to warm up your baby’s bottle when away from home.

photo: Yoshiyasu NISHIKAWA via Flickr

6. Look after yourself.
To feel your best, ensure you’re eating well. Keep a water bottle with you at all times, and stock your desk with healthy snacks like nuts, low-sugar snack bars, and dried fruit. To avoid the dreaded “I have nothing to wear” crisis each morning, consider a clothing rental service like Rent the Runway or Le Tote to stock your closet while your body is still finding its stable post-baby size.

Then, make a short list of three things that help you feel peaceful in a dayyours might be “make bed, dry hair, sit at the table for dinner” or “pray/meditate before baby wakes, take vitamins, read one chapter of a book.” Make every effort to conquer this list. You’ll be surprised how much of a confidence boost this can give you, no matter how small its items might be. And that confidence will translate into your work as a mother and employee.

Above all, give yourself grace. It may take time, but you will find your groove as a working mom. We’re cheering for you!

What are your best tips to easing the back-to-work transition? Share them below!

Elizabeth Carr