So, you've had your baby and the end of your maternity leave is in sight. Each day you get closer and closer to having to leave your child in someone else's care. How do you prepare yourself for such a difficult thing?
Prepare before your leave.
If it's not too late and you are still pregnant, begin making preparations with your work schedule before your maternity leave even begins. If you plan to breastfeed your baby, it's likely that you will want a place to express and store breastmilk while at work. Your employer is required by law to provide these for you, so line them up before you leave. Become familiar with your company's policy on absences due to your children's illnesses, doctor's appointments or days when your daycare provider is unavailable.
Mentally prepare yourself.
Going from spending every waking moment with your baby to being gone from her eight to ten hours a day is tough. Begin to think of ways to make that transition easier. I love my digital photo frame my husband bought for me for mother's day just after returning to work. I periodically load it with new pictures and enjoy looking at my children all day. Plan to call your daycare provider if it will help ease your mind. They shouldn't care.
Go slowly, if possible.
When I first returned to work, I went back part time for a number of weeks. This gave me a chance to get used to going back to work as well as giving my daughter a chance to get used to a new morning routine.
Expect to be weepy.
It's okay to be upset and allow yourself to miss your baby. Don't get angry at yourself for having these emotions.
Expect to be judged.
There are lots of moms who are able and willing to stay at home with their children. Many of us have to work to bring in an income, but wish we didn't have to. Other moms simply like to work and have no desire to stay home with their kids. Many moms who feel strongly about their position can get a big judge-y toward those who choose to do things differently. More than once I've been asked how I could possibly let someone else raise my children.
Know it will get better.
It will. I promise. Maybe not right away, but it will. My children (ages 2 and 3 now) love going to Bobby-School (my daughter's name for her daycare) and look forward to seeing their friends. I still miss them during the day, but I just spend a little extra time in the mornings, evenings and on weekends getting all my snuggles in.