Dawn Rebel


Dear Mom: You’re Headed Back To Work

On Getting Organized And Getting Over It

baby with text "Mommy is going back to work..."

Dear Nearly Back-To-Work Mom,

Hindsight is always twenty-twenty and so, with this letter, I am giving you the gift of foresight.

This is the letter I wish I could have sent to myself several weeks ago, as I grappled with the guilt, thrill, and anxiety of going back to work after eighteen months at home with my daughter.

For months after her birth I couldn’t bear to think about my tiny bundle in another caregiver’s hands while I marched off to work. I had horrifying images of me crying at my desk, installing nannycams everywhere, and basically deciding that the feminist movement had lied to me: being away from your child for selfish pursuits was pure evil.

Looking back now, maybe I was as much afraid of loving work as I was of leaving my daughter.

Don’t fret: Motherhood means an existence of contradictions.

Let me spare you the awful suspense of what your first day back will be like:

You. Will. Love it.

First you will wear actual clothes. Secondly, you will likely get to eat food and consume drinks (at their intended temperature) with two child-free/toy-free/wet-wipe-free/cheerio-free hands. You will have adult conversations, talk about current events, and…be paid to use your brain. I know you think the universe of which I speak exists only long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away. You’re going to need to place your trust in a stranger (that’s me) who knows more about how you feel then you can possibly imagine.

Walking away from your child for the day will not break you. It will not break them. Are you surprised to hear this? Relieved? Slightly disappointed? I was all of these.

Your child will be thrilled to see you when you get home (*this is incredible*). In fact, a day will soon come when they are actually sad to leave the daycare/nanny/preschool. This will hurt your feelings. It will also make you feel relieved that your once avocado-sized babe has formed attachments past the umbilical chord.

Don’t forget it: Motherhood, done with heart, hurts sometimes.

You will also need to think about yourself, for once. I don’t mean this from a martyrdom perspective (that’s a letter for another day). This is purely practical advice. You will need to plan your day in order to make leaving the house even a feasible dream.

Don’t ignore it: “The people out there” care about what you wear to work and whether you’ve managed to corral your bedtime hair into something more palatable.

You are going to need to plan to wash and dress yourself, eat breakfast, pack a lunch, plot transit, execute the daily childcare arrangement, and arrive at work ready to face the day. More accurately: ready for the second shift of your daily responsibilities. The paid shift.

Don’t avoid it: The night before a workday is when you need to maximize your time.

To survive the morning rush, you’re going to want to:

Shower and blow-dry;

Lay out your clothes;

Prepare your breakfast fixins (the protein in this Breakfast Quinoa will power your morning);

Make a lunch;

Pack your child for her day.


Nearly Back-To-Work Mom: You. Are. Incredible. You deserve a cape and tiara just for making it to noon, and an exploding stripper-cake by nightfall.


Don’t kid yourself: Motherhood doesn’t throw you a party for your daily innumerable and superhuman accomplishments.

Just know that the universal sisterhood of moms — no matter whether they are working at home, from home, or in the office — is doing the movie slow clap for you. If everyone were as organized as you need to be for an average workday, we would all be driving flying cars by now.


Then comes the post-work fun, because as Maija Moments says: “Now you bring home the bacon and are still expected to cook it.” You may dust off the crockpot, for some after-work convenience.

Don’t lose faith: You will find tricks that get you through dinner and bedtime. Then comes wine.

No matter what, you won’t bring your “A-Mommy-Game” some nights, and that is ok. You’ll adjust. Your child will adjust. And you will emerge victorious. I speak from at least one week’s experience, which makes me an expert.

So, Nearly Back-To-Work Mom, my hope is I haven’t frightened you about what’s in store as you attempt to re-enter a familiar part of your life. But something is different this time…

Working will feel wonderful, but don’t expect it to feel identical to BB (Before Baby). Yes: the people on the subway are still a little smelly, and meetings still run too long, and there are never enough quality notebooks in the supply room — these things haven’t changed.

But you have.

You’re tougher, smarter, better organized, and more determined then you were before you got promoted to “Mamma.” You know the value of a minute at your computer, and being away from your baby means making every minute of the workday count twice as much as you did before.

Don’t be afraid of going back to work — you’ve already climbed mountains much larger than this. I promise.


All my slow-clapping love from the “other side,”



If worrying about getting to work on time, read this. If you're feeling overwhelmed, and you're ready to use the "H-WORD," this should help.