Experienced Mom’s Survival Guide for Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

This post contains affiliate links. The photos in this post were gifted by Amanda Hacker Photography.  Karoline’s bow is c/o Bitty Bows Boutique and work if you have basically no hair! You can save 10% off of your entire purchase when you use code BRIGHT10.

Returning to work from maternity leave is daunting, whether it’s your first child, second child, etc. Just as soon as you’re getting the getting the hang of the whole motherhood thing, but possibly before you’re getting a full night’s sleep, you have to mix everything and throw in work. It can be depressing. It can be stressful. But you know what? The reality of it can be much better than the expectation.

As I discussed before, being a stay-at-home mom isn’t an option for us. Even if it was, I don’t think it would be a ideal for me personally. So with both of my babies, I knew I’d be returning to work at the end of maternity leave.

When I returned to work after Kane was born, my stress level was through the roof. There was fear of the unknown, fear of leaving my baby at daycare with people I didn’t know, and separation anxiety. We also had a big move the week before I returned to work.  With Karoline, even though I dreaded leaving her at daycare, it was easier because I knew what to expect.

Surprising, returning to work after maternity leave wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be either time. Granted, I worked part-time from home during both of my maternity leaves. As a working mom of two who has now returned to work after maternity leave twice, I thought I’d share my guide for returning to work after maternity leave.


My first tip for returning to work after maternity leave is to ease back into work if at all possible. I think that it’s easier to return to work two or three days into a workweek so that the first week back isn’t overwhelming. This gives you time to get acclimated into the new situation with baby. If this isn’t possible, do “trial runs” the week before returning to work. Get up at the time you think you’ll need to, and run through your morning routine to get out the door. That way you know if you need to get up a little bit earlier to save yourself from being flustered that first day. I know some people like to drop the baby off at the daycare for a little bit before they actually go back to work, but not me. I wanted to hold on to my babies for as long as possible.


My second tip for returning to work after maternity leave is to know your childcare game plan. And more importantly, know your childcare provider.  If you’re like us and have to use a childcare provider who is not a family member, then you should familiarize yourself with the childcare provider. Ask around in your community for feedback on how the provider is. Better yet, search any local mom groups on Facebook to see if anything has been said about that provider (good or bad). Make sure that the childcare provider’s schedule works for you. And finally, the week before your child starts, call to ask for a rundown of how drop-in is supposed to work and what supplies you’ll need to bring. I actually set up my daycare items on Amazon with subscribe and save (you can save 20% off diapers if you subscribe to five items each month), so that’s one less thing I have to think about.


Pumping can be such a chore, and it used to really stress me out. I didn’t realize that I needed a stash with Kane, so I just started pumping the weekend before he went to daycare. This time around, I started two weeks before Karoline went to daycare. I would typically pump in the mornings as that’s when I have the most milk. I recommend starting pumping 2-4 weeks before you head back to work, so you can build a small stash and not stress out. You can definitely start sooner, but if it’s stressing you out, then don’t. If you’re looking for an amazing pump, you can checkout my review of the Willow Pump here.

Before you return to work, make sure to have a conversation with your supervisor to let the supervisor know that you will be pumping when you return to work. That way, you get the logistics out of the way instead of frantically trying to work through them on your first day back. Remember that you will need a full pumping session (15-20 minutes) for each time your baby will be taking a bottle at daycare.  And if you work close enough to daycare, you can pop over to feed your baby on your lunch break to forgo one of those pumping sessions.


It’s ok to be sad that your maternity leave is coming to an end. But whatever you do, avoid falling into the mom guilt trap at all costs! By returning to work, you may doing what’s best for you, your baby, and/or your family. If someone tries to make you feel guilty for returning to work, remind THEM and yourself of that. At the end of the day, your baby will gain social development that they wouldn’t otherwise have. And five years later, Kane STILL loves daycare!

Overall, returning to work after maternity leave can be emotional, but it’s also probably not as bad as you’re preparing yourself for! I hope this guide helps working moms who are struggling with the issue of returning to work after maternity leave.

Nice to meet you!

Hi there! I’m Tif Fannin, the blogger behind Bright on a Budget, based in Lexington, Kentucky. Bright on a Budget is a Southern fashion and lifestyle blog where I share everyday looks, beauty, and travel, along with a behind-the-scenes look at my life as a working mom of two. I have a penchant for bright colors + good deals. Follow along for posts that are relatable to the everyday woman.

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