The process of returning to work from maternity leave is a transition that is loaded with challenges and emotions. It represents a period of time in a woman’s life wherein she undergoes a metamorphosis both personally and professionally.
Not only has she just had a baby and experienced a redefining of self, she now has to redefine her professional identity as well.
Who am I? What do I want? Can I do this? Am I a bad mom if I go back to work? Will I still be good at my job?
These are all questions a woman may ask herself as she sets out to begin her journey as a working mother. The uncertainties are dizzying, maddening, and seemingly unending.
Regardless of whether it is a woman’s first, second, third, or more time becoming a mother, successfully navigating this time requires knowledge, support, and, most importantly, courage.
While much has been said and written about this time in a working mother’s life, few authorities have successfully articulated the depth of these challenges, and even less have created a comprehensive guide for navigating them.
That changed this year with the publication of Back To Work After Baby by Lori Mihalich-Levin.
In the words of Mihalich-Levin in Back To Work After Baby, her goal in creating Mindful Return was to give new mamas a successful, peaceful, and authentic return from maternity leave, or in other words, a mindful return.
Anyone who has ever had to navigate a return from maternity leave knows what an emotionally charged and confusing time it can be, even under the best of circumstances.
Back To Work After Baby is the culmination of knowledge and experience Mihalich-Levin obtained through not only navigating her own return to work after having a baby (twice!), but from helping hundreds of other working mamas do the same.
According to Mihalich-Levin, “returning from maternity leave should not be something you have to ‘get through,’ but rather something you get to create.”
And her book does a phenomenal job showing women how they can do just that.
Back To Work After Baby is broken down into 6 chapters, including the Introduction and Conclusion. The chapters in between offer comprehensive guidance for planning your successful, mindful return to work.
Chapters 2 through 5 are divided as follows: A Mindful Mindset For Return, All Those Logistics, Turning Leave Into Leadership, and Building Your Community.
Chapter 3 (All Those Logistics) is itself divided into three parts: Part 1: On the Home Front; Part 2: Work Side Logistics of Maternity Leave and Return; and Part 3: Critical Skills for Both Work and Home.
Mihalich-Levin dispenses her advice in an understanding, welcoming, non-judgmental tone that makes the reader feel as though she truly understands what it is like to navigate new motherhood and early life as a working mama.
She’s been there and it shows.
In fact, she doesn’t mince words when discussing her own initial difficulties returning to work after her second child. She describes the feelings of exhaustion, the overwhelming sense of responsibility, the tears, and the frustration.
And like any good mentor, she uses those experiences to help the reader navigate toward a better path.
With warmth and humor, Mihalich-Levin discusses her own journey to mindfulness and shares the successful tips she’s learned along the way.
What Sets Back To Work After Baby Apart
What sets Back To Work After Baby apart from other books of its kind is that it truly is a comprehensive guide for each stage of maternity leave: before, during, and after.
Mihalich-Levin offers advice about what you can do before even going on leave to start the process of your mindful return. Yes, she shares how you can successfully navigate your pregnancy in anticipation for your leave as well.
She also discusses creative ways to make your return meaningful immediately and long after you’ve returned, such as by creating a working parents group in your workplace.
The book offers advice for the big and small.
How to dress for work upon your return? It’s in there.
What to eat for breakfast? Yep, there.
How to navigate your relationship with your spouse and even your in-laws? That’s in there.
How to prepare and relate to your employer/direct-reports/colleagues/temporary replacement(s) before, during, and after your leave? That’s in there too.
How to manage the inevitable guilt you’ll experience as a working mom? Of course it’s included.
Beyond that, Back To Work After Baby offers detailed guidance for things like how to navigate pumping at work (a biggie for many women), how to stay organized, and how to create boundaries in your life.
The book also suggests useful ways to manage self-care and discusses the benefits that even micro-self-care can provide.
It is clear that Mihalich-Levin knows what she’s talking about. You may end the book wishing she could plan your life for you–she’s that good.
Mihalich-Levin also includes passages and advice from mamas who have been there, as well as experts from a variety of backgrounds.
For example, for advice on managing stress and anxiety in new motherhood, she includes the thoughts of Megan Hughes-Feltenberger, clinical psychologist and Assistant Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine, who specializes in treating anxiety disorders with cognitive behavioral therapy and is also a mother.
Hughes-Feltenberger herself offers fresh, practical tips for dealing with the anxieties of new motherhood such as “battle it with humor” and “play best, worst, most likely.”
The chapters on Turning Leave Into Leadership and Building Your Community offer the reader practical takeaways for how they can not just survive, but thrive following their return.
The book discusses the strengths women gain after becoming mothers and how those skills translate into the workplace.
In sum, Back To Work After Baby is an inspiring call to action for all working mothers and assures them that the best years of their career are not behind them.
The book is an evergreen guide for working women at all stages of their pregnancy and return.
Giveaway Alert: I love this book so much that I want to share a copy with one of you. One winner will receive a copy of Back To Work After Baby. To enter the Back To Work After Baby Giveaway, click on the link below! Complete at least 1 of the 4 ways to enter (and more if you’d like!). The giveaway ends at 12 AM on 12/16/2017. Open to residents of U.S. and Canada only. Winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and notified by me within 48 hours. For full terms and conditions, read the “Terms and Conditions” when you submit your entry.
Disclaimer: The opinions shared here are my own and I was not compensated for them in any way.