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6 back-to-work tips for new parents

Here's what to know—and do—for a smooth transition.

How can it possibly be time to head back to work?

That's a question you're likely to ask yourself as your family leave time winds down. And you're not alone if you have a bad case of "I'm not ready for this" jitters.

You may wonder how you'll make it through a full day of work after a long night with a fussy baby. You may worry you'll miss your baby—and miss milestones like a first word. And you might feel guilty about letting someone else care for your little one, even if you know that returning to work makes sense for your family.

All these feelings are normal. And balancing your work life with parenting will not always be easy. Still, these six tips may help you adjust:

1. Be patient. Give yourself time to get used to being back at work and away from your baby. Adjustments this big are best handled gradually.

2. Let go of any guilt. Those feelings can distract you from the joy of raising your child. Remember, children will thrive when they're well-loved and cared for, even when the caregiver isn't always you.

There's no evidence that children are harmed when their moms work, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. In fact, childcare seems to have some significant benefits for youngsters. Among them: Young children regularly cared for by someone who isn't a parent may be slightly more independent than other kids.

3. Stay connected. Keep tabs on your baby's progress by communicating with the caregiver at every drop-off and pickup—and with calls and meetings in between. When your workday ends, make reconnecting with your baby your first priority. Catch up and savor the coos.

4. Have a plan B. Babies get sick. And your caregiver may have an unexpected conflict on a busy day. Parents lose an average of 10 workdays every year because of situations like this. So plan ahead for last-minute backup, such as a friend or relative who can step in.

5. Reach out. You're probably juggling more—work, baby, chores—than ever before. So ask for help from your partner, family, friends and coworkers. Otherwise, you're likely to drop some balls and feel way too stressed.

6. Take care of yourself. Your well-being matters as much as your baby's. So eat well. Build exercise into your routine. And squeeze in some time for yourself every day.

Reviewed 2/16/2022

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