A Mom’s Journey from Maternity Leave to Back to Work

April 25, 2012

Erin is a work out of the home mom who blogs at Our Great Adventure about her life, journey through pregnancy, and son LC. She’s on twitter at LibrarianE13. We’ve gotten to know each other over the past year+ and I’m excited she’s here to share her story!

Remember back on maternity leave, where you could sip your coffee and lay around in your pajamas, nursing a newborn all day, when scrolling through the dvr and finding new obsessions like Dance Moms, and taking a shower after 3pm was no big deal?

And how you could nap when the baby napped (yeah, not me, I felt the compulsive need to vacuum, fold laundry, and occasionally, sit on the balcony with the baby monitor at my side and read my book.

Sidenote: I read all of 1 whole book for the 16 weeks I was out on leave

Life was easy come, easy go. And it didn’t matter if you were up a gazillion times a night nursing or comforting the baby, because, hey, you didn’t have to work the next day! Granted, taking care of a newborn (especially when it’s your first and if you are slightly neurotic about certain things, like I am), it IS a full time job. But in a different kind of way.

And then comes the day (for me it was September 20, 2011, when my baby boy was barely 4 months old), that your little cocoon world comes crashing down, ripped off the branch, and pried open forcing the butterfly within to burst forth on the scene, ready or not, here I come.

My sweet baby boy started daycare, he took bottles like a champ, and I pumped like my life depended on it. And so it went on like that for 3 months, and then he reached the big ‘let’s start solids’ milestone, which I tentatively began at the tail end of the 6 month mark, watching his cues, making sure he was really ready.

He ate one solid meal a day for a while and then he gradually increased to 3 solid meals a day, along with always drinking his milk beforehand.

Enter: chaos

We get home from work at about 6pm, LC is usually dog tired, and somewhat of a hot mess depending on what he got into at daycare that day. Mismatched outfit, socks flying off left and right, random food stains on his outfit, rug burn on his arms and legs, but always a big grin on his face.

At first we tried to nurse and then feed him his solid meal while my husband made us our dinner. By the time that was ready, LC would have had his dinner, played on the floor for a bit, then back in the highchair to be entertained by various toys while we attempted to a) wolf down our dinner while it was still hot and b) keep him entertained before he started melting down from being too tired.

This lasted for a month or so, before we realized a) this isn’t working, b) he is TOO tired to enjoy our meal with us and c) cooking and eating at the speed of light is not enjoyable to either of us.

Enter, the earlier bedtime! We were lucky that there wasn’t much effort on anyone’s part. We had been putting LC to bed at 7:30 or 8:00, whenever we got done with our dinner or he melted down so much that I abandoned my half eaten dinner to put him to bed. So we started making bedtime 7:00pm.

And let me tell you, the guilt that followed me the first few days of this was agonizing. With this new bedtime, we have 15 minutes of playtime before it’s up in the high chair for dinner, then his bath, then pjs, story, nursing, and bed, all within approximately 1 hour. That is a LOT to jam in an hour folks.

But we do it. We started out on one routine, we adjusted into another, and I’m sure in a couple more weeks, when we start integrating more finger foods (translate: me staring at him, willing him to chew and swallow and not gag or choke) and it takes him eons longer to eat a meal, it’ll change yet again.

But what fun would life be if we all lived the same routine over and over and over again for eons right!


  • dolores

    May 11, 2012 at 8:43 am

    I enjoy reading your posts even though my kids have all grown and have babies of their own. I remember how hard it was when they were little, but it was also the best time of my life! Enjoy!

  • HowToDo

    May 7, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Wow!Great list of things that one must be able to do or have in life. It is not hard to decipher everything right, but people do not wish to leave their comfort zones to really learn. It is a nice compilation and crisply told.I’m going to dive into these and learn a few things! Isn’t it funny how using Google effectively is included today with things like building a fire, cooking, and holding a baby? I rely on Google daily so it is a must. Great post!

  • Rebecca

    May 2, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    This struck a chord with me – thanks for sharing your experience! My son was born in June 2011 and I returned to work (initially very reluctantly, even resentfully) in late September. It was such a challenging transition, emotionally and otherwise. And yes, the evening routine now is such a juggling act! I could so relate to your description of the adorable “hot mess” that you pick up from daycare, and the dinners often eaten cold, quickly, with one hand, or very late. Enjoy your little guy and his constantly changing routines! 🙂

  • Deuvanira

    April 25, 2012 at 8:05 pm

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  • Misty Pratt

    April 25, 2012 at 7:14 am

    Sounds like you handle this like a champ!! But, oh, I feel so much for mommies down the US who have to go back to work so early. We have 1 year maternity leave here in Canada, and although it’s not perfect (I’m basically poor for 1 year), it does allow for some extra time to snuggle, watch your PVR’d shows and read a few good books 🙂 I really hope/pray that one day you are all granted the same amount of time….unless of course you choose to go back earlier, which I would also completely understand!!

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