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Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals. I'm a recovering former vegan and vegetarian, now healing with a nutrient-dense mostly Paleo diet, and love at-home CrossFit and yoga workouts. I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

New mom to baby Otto born April 2018!

Going back to work after maternity leave: how I'm making it work!

I took the pretty standard 12 weeks of maternity leave after Otto was born, but I "went back to work" a couple weeks ago. All in all I would say it's been going well, but it's been a huge shift and definitely hard to process!

First, I'll say this: I really like my job. I've been there just over 5 years and I'm very good at what I do (I'm a land use planner for an architecture and engineering firm). I love the people I work with, I feel ownership in what I do, I get to mentor and collaborate all the time, and I appreciate the corporate culture. It can be demanding at times, and there are opportunities to attend evening networking events, and I have always worked more than 40 hours/week on normal weeks. Aside from a few new moms right after they come back, there are very few examples of people who work part-time at my company. I've wondered for several years now how I'd be able to make it work taking care of kids and having time to buy groceries, make dinner, etc. and work 40+ hours/week plus 30-45 mins driving each way.

The plan: going back to work



Thankfully, I've been able to work out a schedule where I work 3 days/week for now, a little over 8 hours each day. Jason is on summer break from physical therapy school so we don't need childcare right now! He was really nervous about spending whole long days with Otto by himself but of course he has been doing great at it and figured out some good routines and methods. 

I definitely need those 4-day weekends right now cause the house is still unpacked and I'm still trying to coordinate garage door repairs, electrical quotes, etc. and it is so much easier to do when not at work! The plan is in a couple months I'll start working 3 10-hour days and when Jason is back in school, we'll have a rotation of our parents and Jason on morning and afternoon shifts (he'll have Friday afternoons off). 

The schedule


Currently, our daily schedule is like this... Otto's sleep is still unpredictable overnight, so he usually wakes up for a feeding around 1:00 or 2:00 and then he might wake up again around 4:30 or 5. If he does, I feed him; if not, I get up at 5:30 to get ready for work (and then I pump) and he's been sleeping till about 8:30. So Jason gets to sleep in a little, too, and they start their day. I get home around 5 or 6 and feed Otto right after his last nap!

I've been taking two breaks per day at work to pump, usually 9:30 or 10 and 1:30 or 2. Unfortunately even though I only pump for like 13 minutes, I haven't been able to get these breaks to less than 25 minutes or so with walking to the "quiet room," getting set up, etc. This means that I've been at work from 7-4:45 or so but I'm still only getting like 8-8.5 hours because of an hour of pumping breaks! (I am a little concerned that when I switch to 30 hours/week and 10-hour days, I'll have to pump a third time and so be at work for 11.5 hours to get 10 hours in!! I'm going to look into some other options before that schedule starts.)

I have heard milk supply can go down when you go back to work--partly because pumping every 4 hours is very different than feeding a baby every 2-3. I haven't noticed that a ton yet but I am thinking about it.

I was definitely worried about the sleep part of this change before it happened. Otto's sleeping pretty well for his age but still wakes up to eat 1-2 times a night and I can't always go right back to sleep after. On non-work days, I can sleep in, too! We've all been sleeping till 8 most days which has been so nice! When he wakes up to eat around 5 on non-work days I think, MAN, it would suck to have to stay up right now. But that's exactly what I've been doing 3 days/week, basically getting 2-3 hours less sleep than usual.

Sleep is really important to me. I haven't felt the negative effects of those early mornings yet but we'll see--I might have to start going to bed crazy early those nights!

So how does it feel?


The first few days felt so weird. I'd wake up to the alarm and tiptoe around making my breakfast, getting dressed, and driving off - alone. No one to call out for me or interrupt. So much freedom. Then a whole day, when I can get sucked onto the computer working on a task until it's done??! I can go to the bathroom whenever I want?! The freedom felt so weird, but also good.

Being back in the office feels so normal. I've spent so many hours there before and I know how everything works, where everything is. (I guess part of why it feels comfortable could be it's the same, whereas we've moved three times in the past 8 months, and weren't at the last house for long before that... so home doesn't feel super normal/stable right now in contrast.)

Getting dressed for work every day is kind of nice. I looooove hanging around in my bra tanks and yoga pants, but I just got on the high-waisted jean trend (I am a slow adopter, plus I was pregnant and couldn't wear normal waists for several months!) and I feel good wearing my cute new jeans! These are my faves.

Unfortunately the new-house, fixer-upper issues are weighing on me, too. Moving into a new place 2 weeks before going back to work, and having a brand new baby--BAD, bad timing. I recommend you try to avoid it!!!!

I'm worried about the more intensive schedule and definitely worried about Jason going back to school and having homework and test stress on top of everything else. But for now, we've adapted well to this schedule. So grateful we can baby-step back in!

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