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7 Ways to Spot a New Mom Returning From Maternity Leave

7 Ways to Spot a New Mom Returning From Maternity Leave

I recently returned to work in October after being out on maternity leave since July. Like the many moms who are enthusiastic about coming back to work after babyI’m excited to be back on the job, contributing to the team, and being surrounded by other adults.

All that said, though, I’m still adjusting to life as a working mom. After a few days in the office, it has become clear that anyone who knows what to look for could spot me – a new mom re-entering the workforce – from 100 yards away. Based on my own experiences, here are a few funny but true (aside from the obvious) signs your colleague is a new working mom:

Common Traits of a First-Time Mom Returning From Maternity Leave

She might have a “momnesia” moment or two. As it turns out, spending days with an infant doesn’t do much for the vocabulary… or for having important, coherent conversations with adults at work. Now she’s the one in a meeting who can’t for the life of her remember what she was trying to say halfway through saying it. As some point, she will awkwardly chuckle and attribute it to “mommy brain” and will try again.

She could also be (unintentionally) sporting a new mom badge of honor. When she fed her little one this morning, she thought she’d been super careful about burp cloth placement on top of her work clothes. But now that she’s walking to lunch with a colleague, she glances down and there it is – spit up. Clear as day. Off white and smear-y on her black vest. 


She has a new go-to hair style. Kids pull hair, which has left Mom with bits of ripped hairs that look anything but cute, despite her best efforts at blow drying them into submission. Also (she won’t come right out and tell you this but) her hair is doing that post-pregnancy falling out thing, so rather than coating her shoulders, office chairs, and ultimately other people with hair, she will be wearing it up in a bun. Forever. (Or for at least the next six to eight months.)

Her lunch is a sad sandwichPre-baby lunches had courses. An apple. Leftovers from the night before. Bread. A dessert. Now lunch is quite literally thrown together. In between making sure that baby is set for the day (bottles / bibs / clothes / diapers / etc), making breakfast, feeding the cat, trying to pack work bags and put on something presentable to wear, she makes a “sandwich.” Individual items tossed from the open fridge into a Tupperware on the counter: two to five slices of miscellaneous deli meat, spinach leaves, a slice of cheese, some sort of condiment. The ingredients are contained in the same space but are not necessarily stacked or presented in the traditional sandwich format. At least she’s remembering that she needs to eat!

She’s in need of coffee (all the coffee). Her kid is sleeping through the night but that doesn’t mean she is! The bags under her eyes are now permanent. She could doze off at any time at her desk if she hadn’t just chugged that last iced coffee. When she’s not thinking about work, her kid & husband, or food, she’s thinking about sweet, delicious sleep. Even though baby is sleeping well, she is not. She worries, overthinks, and tends to do both of these things around 2:30 a.m. During the day, she’s the most awake before lunch. Around 3 p.m. the coffee wears off and she could really use that mid-afternoon nap from maternity leave.

She lights up if you mention her baby. She could be dragging through the day (where’s that nap?) and flustered from a meeting where she stumbled over words for most of it (see #1), but the second someone asks her how her baby is… she can’t help but smile. She’ll gladly update you on anything to do with her child if you seem interested. She’ll even show you photos. Conveniently, her computer background, phone background, and significant gallery of photos on her phone should suffice.

She is more productive than she’s ever been – she can multitask like a champ. Now that she’s had to figure out how to do the groceries, the laundry, the cooking, the vacuuming, and many other jobs around the house while juggling an infant who is either sleeping or screaming, she can conquer work in a whole new way. She can get more work done in a shorter amount of time because for the first time in months, she’s able to sit down and focus for more than 10 minutes.

Now that you know how to spot a new mom returning to work, go over and ask how her day is going and how her baby is. She’ll show you pictures and she might well up, but knowing that someone in the office is also thinking about her baby will make her smile. Most of all – be patient. She’s getting back up to speed and learning to juggle a whole new way of life just after learning to take care of a whole new person. She will get there, spit up and all.

Amy blogger photoHi! I’m Amy. I work for Bright Horizons on our Recruitment Operations team, and I’m a first-time mom to a baby boy. My husband, son (!), and I live with our kitty in a fixer upper house that we’ve (finally) finished fixing up. I enjoy all things comedy, DIY, food, gardening and binge watching TV shows. I’m so excited for the chance to share some of my experiences with you as I start the next chapter of my life as a new mom.


Do you want more advice for returning to work after your maternity leave?

Use the below player to download, follow, and listen to Episode 1 of the Bright Horizons Family Matters Podcast: Returning to Work as a Parent. Click here to learn more about the Bright Horizons Family Matters Podcast.


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