You and your partner have brought this beautiful new baby into the world and are adjusting to this new life at home. Just when you think you’re getting the hang of things, it’s time for Dad to go back to work. How in the world will you manage caring for this newborn all by yourself?
Dealing with a husband going back to work after the baby is born is a common issue for many parents. To ease the transition, you should have clearly delineated roles for each of you when it comes to taking care of both the baby and each other. Communicating with your partner about your feelings and needs will help both of you work through it.
Read on to find some great tips on how to handle the nighttime feedings, dinner time chores, and how to navigate all this with other children in the household.
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What do I do when my husband goes back to work?
So you’ve brought your new baby home, are settling into a nice groove, and now it’s time for your husband to go back to work. This can be a very challenging and anxiety-ridden time for new mothers, even for seasoned moms.
You suddenly don’t have someone to hand the baby off to during crying spells, to calm or occupy the baby while you grab a shower, or to help with diaper changes. Not to mention, chances are good that dad has to go back to work while you’re still recovering from giving birth!
The most important thing is to realize that you can do this by yourself, and you will. Realize the first few days on your own will probably be tough. You will have to prioritize how you spend your time and what’s most important to you.
For instance, what is more important to your sanity, keeping your house clean or getting a daily shower?
There may be days you will have to pick between the two, and will probably be days where neither gets done at all.
Going into this transition of Dad going back to work knowing what your must-do daily tasks are will help ease the burden and guilt of not being able to get everything done.
Will they happen every day?
No, but you’ll be pleased to see how often they do get done.
One word of advice here, please do at least one thing for yourself each day. Something that makes you feel human and a little more like your old self whether it’s a nap, a shower, or watching 30 minutes of mind-numbing television. There will always be a million other things that need your attention but it is so important to take care of yourself as well.
Secondly, you may have to swallow your pride a little and ask for help from time to time. Maybe you have a close family member, friend, or neighbor that can swing by to help when things get a little harried. We all know there are days like that with a newborn. Ask for help when you need it and don’t be ashamed. We’ve all been there.
Dealing with dad going back to work
Once Dad has gone back to work it can seem like you are always on duty.
Both of you are adjusting to this new routine, are probably a little stressed, and exhausted doesn’t even begin to describe the fatigue. That’s why it’s so important to clearly communicate any expectations you both may have about Dad returning to work and what your partner’s contributing role with the baby will be.
For instance, maybe after spending all day at home alone with your new infant, you need a little alone time after Dad gets home. Maybe if he could just take the baby for 30 minutes while you take a bath, a nap, or even a quick trip out of the house, you can re-energize yourself and be prepared to face the rest of the evening. And if these needs are clearly communicated to Dad, he will know that when he gets home from work it’s time for some Daddy and baby time.
While sometimes it can be easy to do so, don’t forget that this time is hard on Dad, too. He probably wishes he could stay home with you both all day and more than likely is having a rough time being away. This is a joyful yet strenuous time for all involved.
Take it a day at a time and realize that these early days will pass so quickly, even though it doesn’t feel like it at the time. Give each other grace as much as you can. Fuses and tempers will be short. Strong communication will help prevent unnecessary arguments.
How to handle night feedings once dad goes back to work
A notorious sore spot for all new parents is how to handle the ever exhausting night time feedings once Dad has gone back to work.
Should Mom handle all of these since she may have some opportunities to catch up on sleep during the day while Dad is at work? Should Dad take on these feedings so that Mom can actually get a little bit of rest from the constant litany of jobs she juggles all day long?
Should working dad get up with baby
One of the big questions once dad goes back to work is whether or not he should get up in the middle of the night to help with the baby – after all, he has to be up early and won’t get the chance for a nap during the day.
Sit down with your partner and have a conversation to see how you both feel about this topic. Chances are you will both have strong opinions that will probably be exact opposites of the other. Give each person a chance to share their feelings and work together to create a compromise that you each are happy with.
For instance, maybe you take shifts at night. From 10-1:00 is Mom’s turn and from 1-4:00 is Dad’s. Or maybe Mom has a certain number of nights per week and Dad takes the others. Another option is for Mom to take the nights when Dad has to get up the next morning and Dad takes the weekend.
The more clearly these expectations are communicated, the more efficiently your home will run. It’s important both parties know what to expect so that no resentments arise later on down the road.
How do I deal with night feeds by myself
Although some couples can share the responsibility of getting up in the middle of the night, there may be some cases where you are completely responsible for all night time feedings. This is rough, especially at the beginning where there may be only a few hours at a time between feedings. You may be able to keep this up for a short while but you will quickly reach a breaking point if you aren’t ever able to rest.
Look for alternative ways to find some sleep for yourself. Maybe that looks like going to bed from 7 until midnight and letting Dad handle that time period while you rest. Maybe you will get your rest on the weekend when Dad doesn’t have to work and he can take those nights. Or maybe another compromise would be putting Dad in charge of certain chores you would typically do during the day so that you can nap during that time period.
Just make sure your partner is aware of your feelings on the night time feeds and that your desires are clearly communicated. Also, remind yourself that while this time is extremely unbelievably hard on mothers, that it’s hard on Dads as well. They have to get up at a set time, get to work on time, and put in a full day’s work without rest as a functioning adult.
Remember that the two of you are a team and that it’s not a contest of who is more tired.
How can dad help at night if we breastfeed exclusively?
Of course, if you are exclusively breastfeeding this, unfortunately, means you are a critical part of your baby getting fed. One great option to consider is introducing pumped breastmilk in a bottle to your baby.
Giving a baby a bottle is a great time for Dad and baby to have a little bonding time. This gets your baby familiar with being fed by a bottle which gives you a little freedom to sleep or get some much needed time out of the house.
If you have made the decision to exclusively breastfeed (meaning no pumping and no bottles period), your partner can still offer some help. When the baby first starts to stir, Dad can go change their diaper then bring the baby to you. Then once you have fed your baby all you have to do is get baby back to their bed. Or you could feed the baby first and Dad can take baby afterward to change the diaper and get them back to sleep.
Either option cuts your workload down and helps you get back to sleep quicker.
What do about older children once dad goes back to work
Having older children with a new baby at home can pose challenges of its own. Try speaking in an age-appropriate manner to your older children about what day to day life looks like with a new baby in the house.
Tell them there may be times when you will be busy with the baby and suggest some ways they can occupy their time. Prep snacks and lunches if at all possible, or at least have some easy grab and go options that they can help themselves to.
Get your kids involved in helping take care of their new sibling as much as possible. Kids love to help out (most of the time) and even the youngest kids can help by grabbing a diaper or a bag of wipes if needed. Older kids can be great at distracting your new baby if you need a moment alone. Teach them to talk and sing to the baby and show them ways they can interact with their new sibling.
Older children can also help with chores. Preschool age children can help make beds, dust, and pick up their toys. Elementary age kids can sweep and vacuum floors, clean up after meals, and empty the trash. Your middle schoolers can load and unload the dishwasher, supervise younger siblings, and take the trash out to the curb. Enlist that help! You’ll need it!
Who makes dinner when there’s a newborn in the house
I don’t know about you but the last thing I ever felt like doing when we had a newborn in the house is cooking dinner, but, unfortunately, we still had to eat. There may have to be some give and take here regardless of what your roles look like during normal times.
Once again, good communication is key. Maybe during this time, you all can decide to get take out more frequently and have set days that this is done. Maybe you and your partner alternate dinner duties every other night giving the other a bit of a break. Or, maybe one of you cooks and the other cleans up.
Whatever this looks like for your family, and it will look different for every family, just make sure everyone is aware of what their duty is when it comes to dinner and when to do it.
Making time for freezer meals
Freezer meals are a great way to get a hearty meal on the table with minimal fuss. And yes, I know the last thing you want to do right now is spend any extra time in the kitchen than you have to. The easiest way to stock your freezer full of delicious meals is simply to double every meal you make.
You already are purchasing the ingredients and prepping them, right? Why not purchase double and spend a little extra time doubling the recipe? You will have one pan that goes in the oven and another that goes straight to the freezer. You will be amazed at how quickly these meals can accumulate over time.
Be sure to store in a freezer-safe container and clearly label what the dish contains. Put the date that the dish was made on the container as well and include any directions on how to cook or reheat. You will thank yourself for this extra work on those nights where no one feels like cooking.
How do I get my husband to go back to work after having a baby?
The societal norm is for Moms to stay home with their new baby while Dads go back to work.
But sometimes Dads just aren’t ready to go back to work. We forget that their lives are just as turned upside down as ours and that they can have many anxieties and worries just like we do.
Promise Dad that you will send numerous photos and videos of your little one throughout the day. Text him funny or sweet things that happen and help him feel included. Make sure that Dad has some one on one time to bond with the baby when he gets home. Listen to any worries or anxieties he may have about returning to work and help assuage his concerns.
Going back to work after paternity leave
Usually whatever amount of time Dads get off for paternity leave, if they even get any at all, can be severely lacking.
Chances are that when it’s time to return to work the home environment is a chaotic mess at best. Dads can experience guilt for leaving the mess behind and the added responsibility that is placed on their spouse. Add that to the lack of sleep and any catch-up work that needs to be done at their job after being off a few days or weeks, there’s no wonder this time is stressful.
Dads should try to get as much rest as they can at night and help their partners the best they can when they are home.
Separation anxiety after husband goes back to work
It’s completely normal to be anxious when your husband goes back to work after the baby is born. This is probably the first time you’ve been the sole caregiver to your baby and that’s a lot of responsibility, which is why moms typically receive a screening for postpartum anxiety as a part of her postpartum followup.
If you notice any of the following symptoms of postpartum anxiety, you should address it with your doctor:
- Excessive worry
- Feeling that something bad is going to happen
- Racing thoughts
- Sleep and appetite disturbances
- Inability to sit still
- Physical symptoms including dizziness, nausea, and hot flashes
Is it normal to cry when husband goes back to work
Your husband returning to work is sure to cause you some stressed out emotions.
It’s normal to be overwhelmed and miss your husband. Your hormones will be all over the place, you aren’t getting sleep, and you are alone. I’d say you wouldn’t be normal if you didn’t cry at some point.
However, if you seem to be crying uncontrollably or unable to stop crying once he leaves, that may signal something else at work going on. Postpartum depression affects roughly 1 out of 10 new moms.
Here are some warning signs of postpartum depression to look out for:
- Emotional highs and lows
- Frequent crying
- Difficulty caring for baby
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your doctor and let them know what you’re experiencing. There is no shame in admitting this. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you can feel back to normal and get back to enjoying time with your new baby.