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How to be Super (Working) Mom

Getting Over the Guilt

Anxiety and guilt are two common emotions when leaving your baby for the first time, as new mother Erica Wright, a Connecticut-based social worker, found out when she was going back to work. “I felt extremely stressed about separating from my son,” she says.

In order to cope with her feelings, Erica brought her caregiver in 10 days before she was going back to work full time. This allowed her time to practice what it would feel like to leave him and gain confidence in her sitter’s ability to care for her son.
Of course, there are new mothers who experience a sense of relief in leaving. “Taking care of a newborn is exhausting, messy work that is much tougher to do than it looks,” says Landow. “It’s understandable if a mother feels relieved to be away from the house for a while where she may be feeling less competent than she does at the office.”

Baby-Friendly Work Environments

Some companies are more family friendly than others, offering phase-back programs that allow you to ease gradually when going back to work—like working part time for up to six months—rather than dive into a five-day workweek from day one.

“Companies understand that they are most vulnerable to losing employees after maternity leave,” says Suzanne Riss, editor-in-chief of Working Mother magazine. “Because it costs more money to replace them, it is in their best financial interest to help mothers make the transition. In return, working mothers end up feeling more loyal to their employers for taking care of them.”

If possible, meet with your boss prior to returning to see what arrangements can be made to ease your transition. Whether or not your company offers benefits, is important to appear positive and professional during the first month going back to work. Maintaining a professional posture does not mean pretending that your baby does not exist, however: It’s perfectly appropriate to share baby photographs and stories with your colleagues.

Posted: 10/3/07