And just like that, you’re back at the office.
As I mentioned in a previous piece in this series, you won’t know how you’re going to feel until the day you leave your baby. But no matter how exhilarating it may feel to be “back” at the office, your heart will hurt being away from your little one.
But guess what? No one at work loves your baby as much as you do. In fact, I will go out on a limb and say that it is possible that no one at work is particularly interested in your baby AT ALL.
What they are interested in is seeing if you can still do your job the way you used to. Yes, the over/under at the office is on whether you are the same team player you were or if baby has stolen your brain and your ambition.
The good news is that this is a worst-case scenario. But don’t we always plan for the worst-case scenario?
With that in mind, I offer some tips that allow you to appear as though you are nurturing your family and work evenly. (The truth is: you can’t, but you can make it look like you do!)
Don’t be late.
No one cares that your baby spit up on you or that you couldn’t find baby’s favorite binky. They care that you are on time.
Chances are you had a morning routine before, but it is 8 billion times more important with a baby in the mix. You have now figured out, though, that nothing is more unpredictable than a baby.
Even if you have timed your morning routine (which I highly suggest…you will find out for a fact that putting the baby in the car seat DOES take 10 minutes, not 1) you need to start everything earlier to be prepared for anything.
Pack your lunch and your bag; lay out our outfits (down to shoes) the night before, yada blah blah. You know all that.
I’m talking about being ready for baby spit up (never put your work shirt on until you are safely out the door, or ideally at work).
I’m talking about being ready for baby sobbing (baby is fine the minute you walk away, I guarantee it).
I’m talking about baby binky emergencies (yes, please do buy 50, and keep them absolutely everywhere).
Don’t gush about your baby.
Did I mention no one cares? All babies turn over. All babies say mama for their first word. All babies smile an adorable toothless smile. It is really great your baby does all that, and there might be another new mom or doting grandma type in your office who cares about that. But no one else does.
Your family, your partner, maybe your best friend (and that’s a huge maybe) cares about these things.
You absolutely should share these joyous moments though. Join an online baby board like babycenter.com and find other like minded moms who will eat up details of your baby.
Don’t whine about your baby.
“I barely slept at ALL last night; I was up every 2 hours with a baby who had hunger pains/stuffy nose/binky emergency.”
Nope, no one cares. Freshen up your makeup, slam a venti latte, paste a smile on your face and make it happen.
Is baby sick? Avoid being the one who ALWAYS takes the day off. Ideally, find back-up care in the form of a nanny or grandma who isn’t afraid of a few sniffles.
At the least, alternate with your partner over who takes the day off. And while you’re home be as productive and in touch as you can. The good news is that sick babies sleep a lot…unless they’re crying, in which case, you can combine laptop time with lap snuggle time and make it work. (Just don’t answer your phone).
Don’t plaster your office/cube/desk/space with photos of your baby.
Again, you work in a place of business, not a day care center (unless you do!)
Of course, you want 3 to 5 photos of your angel.
Have your babe be your wallpaper. Your screen saver. Your mouse pad. Add one to two discreetly framed photos on your desk and bam, you’re done. Save the portrait gallery for your house.
Don’t assume that your baby’s needs supersede the needs of others in the office.
Whether your colleagues have kids or not, they have something they’d rather do at 5:30 p.m. than be at the office. Their desire to go to the gym, grocery shopping, bar hopping or socializing is in no way less important than your need to be with your baby.
If you want to be a team player, you need to be “on the team” as often as you can. Of course, there are always valid exceptions, but to the best of your ability, pitch in when it’s crunch time.
Don’t forget that your baby is the most important thing in your life.
Because your baby is. The whole point of this is to remind you that it is not the most important thing in the lives of anyone but you and your family.
Cherish every second you have with that bundle of joy. Maximize every second to the best of your ability. Photograph them, blog about them, share them, tuck them away in your heart.
But work is the one area of your life that you can and should keep free from baby infiltration.
We will wrap up our series on work and family with some concrete suggestions for taking multi-tasking to the max to make the home/work juggle a little more productive on both ends.
by Cathie Ericson