How to Define Your "New Normal" After Maternity Leave

Try these experiments to define your "new normal" after becoming a working mom

Mom and baby in an office

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Motherhood is a crazy ride right from the start. The road back to “normal” seems impossible. Especially when you become a working mom and return from maternity leave.

Trial and error becomes part of the norm. You become a scientist who will perform numerous experiments to discover your “new normal.” Here are some major experiments you will run and a few tips to pass the test.

The Baggage Experiment

Prior to motherhood, you had your work baggage, purse, and perhaps a gym bag. Your new normal may add to your bag count.

You’ll most likely add a diaper bag. You’ll experiment with what to pack for the baby and on which days you’ll need to pack certain things. Some days you’ll send in more food than others depending on how much the baby eats while you are at work. You may need to pack extra clothes for playing in the snow or a water sprinkler party.

If you are breastfeeding, you’ll have a breast pump (some come in the form of a backpack). You’ll experiment with what supplies you’ll need, how to keep things clean, and how to keep the milk cold (you may need to grab an ice pack in the morning). Then there is the unpacking and labeling of milk at night (nothing was worse than realizing the next morning you forgot to unpack the milk! Grrrr!). You’ll figure out a system for this.

Since daycare is not cheap, and you’d love to lose the baby weight, you may start packing your lunch. Time becomes even more precious when you use time at work to pump or if you need to jet out during lunch to pick up diapers. Also, if you’re breastfeeding, you may be hungrier than before you left for maternity leave, so you’ll need to keep a healthy stash of snacks.

You’ll experiment with different kinds of foods because the baby may not agree with what you eat. Also, going out to eat or to grab lunch can take up energy and time.

The Daycare Drop-Off/Pick-Up Experiment

You’ll add in daycare visits to your daily schedule. How will this go? Some days it’ll go smoothly with very little to say to your daycare providers. Other days your little ones will need extra hugs & kisses or you’ll need to tell or listen to a story about your child. You are also building a relationship with your daycare provider so there’s friendly banter to factor in, too. In all of the above, you’ll experiment with how much drop-off or pick-up time you’ll need to squeeze into your day.

The Private and Professional Priorities Experiment

You’ll experiment with how much of your personal life you’ll share with co-workers. We all want to talk about our kids, but not everyone wants to truly listen. You’ll also be asked to go out for drinks after work, work late, and perhaps travel. How will you handle these challenges?

You’ll experiment with what your priorities should be and when. Life is starting to get a bit congested with the number of responsibilities you have, so, to help keep things in perspective, write down what your values and priorities are. This will keep them in the front and center.

Optimistic Future Experiments

Know that there will be many more experiments you’ll be challenged to test out, like how to organize your home and even your car. I want you to know that you can perform any procedure that comes about. You have mother’s intuition and mommy energy on your side.

Some tests will fail miserably, and others will result in outstanding success. Some may take an insane amount of research you may not want to do, but don’t give up. Avoid getting caught up in despair by just starting the experiment. It’s not life or death, it’s just an experiment. Get to it!