I was offered a job in Portland about a month before my my first child was due. After the excitement wore off, the apprehension about becoming a new parent, starting a new job, and moving to a new city across the country kicked in! While I can’t say it was an easy transition, I did learn a lot from the process of going back to work with a new baby. Here are ten tips that helped me navigate my first year of motherhood with a new job in a new city.
1. Lower Your Expectations
Not only are you figuring out this whole parenting thing, you’re also figuring out a new work setting/culture, and if you’ve moved for your job, you’re also figuring out a new city. Each one of these things is a major life change in and of itself, so cut yourself some slack!
2. Find a Mom Work Buddy
In my experience, other moms are more than willing to support each other. When you’re getting to know your coworkers, mention your new baby. Fellow moms will likely talk about their kids and commiserate with you about the chaos of being at work with a new baby. Ask them how they balance parenthood and their job over lunch or coffee or in the break room.
3. Display Pictures of Baby (and Family/Friends) in Your Office
Having pictures of your baby, family, and friends will help you feel more at home, especially if you’re new in town. They’ll also serve as an easy conversation starter when new coworkers stop by your desk.
4. If Nursing, Work with Your Employer on a Lactation Space
Once you’ve accepted the job and signed your contract, check in with HR and/or your supervisor about where you can pump, store your milk/supplies, as well as clean your supplies. Doing this before you officially start can help ease some of your first day jitters at work with a new baby.
5. Live and Find Daycare as Close to Work a Possible
If you’re new to the city, chances are you won’t know what area you’d like to set down roots. If there is housing close to your job that’s within your budget, consider signing a lease. During our first nine months in Portland, I had a ten minute walking commute to my job and it was glorious. If you’re doing daycare, consider proximity to work, especially if you can use your lunch break for baby snuggles or a nursing session.
6. Consider Having Your Partner Stay Home
Originally, we didn’t think this was an option for us, however, once we considered the cost of child care mixed with our student loan debt it actually made more financial sense for my husband to stay home. Having him at home with our daughter made the transition to a new job a lot easier because we didn’t have the added stress of finding daycare or wondering who would leave work when sicknesses hit.
7. Carry a Notebook and Write Everything Down
My memory was terrible during my first year postpartum; not exactly the best way to make a great first impression with new coworkers! My strategy to write everything down in a notebook I carried around everywhere (at work and at home) really worked. From people’s names, to-do lists, to things I needed to remember, and more. I wrote it all down.
8. Keep a List of Your Favorite Work Outfits
One of my favorite things written in my notebook was an inventory of outfits I could wear to work that were also easy to pump in. Whenever I got ready in the morning I’d go through my list of outfits, pick one, and get dressed. No more outfit-related morning crises at work with a new baby!
9. Post Lists of Everything You Need
Between my laptop, lunch, pumping gear, wallet, keys, phone, and work supplies, I always felt like I was missing something. Having a list posted somewhere in the house and on my desk at work helped me keep everything in line. Before I left for work in the morning, I would run through the list posted on our front door and make sure I had everything I needed. I’d do the same with the list on my desk when I left work at the end of the day.
10. Wear a Robe
Babies are messy and work clothes seem to be a magnet for spit up, snot, poop, and goodness knows whatever else! Waiting until the last minute before getting dressed helped a little, but throwing a robe over my clothes until I walked out the door fully prevented unnecessary outfit disasters.
What has made going back to work with a new baby easier for you?
Jill is the mama to a hilarious toddler and wife to a one-of-a-kind stay-at-home dad. By day, she works as a professor and by night she blogs about her academic experiences at Toddler on the Tenure Track. She loves all things planning, scheduling, organizing, and Olympic lifting!