Going back to work after having a baby can be physically and emotionally exhausting for many women. Lauren Smith Brody, author of The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom’s Guide to Style, Sanity, & Big Success After Baby, chatted exclusively with Us Weekly about her new book. The mother of two shared her tips to help ease the minds of working women as they head back to the office after maternity leave.
Check out six of the biggest takeaways from her book below:
#1 Transparency Is Key
“Be transparent about your new working motherhood when you come back,” the 40-year-old tells Us. “It’s OK for people to see that you’re struggling, and that it’s hard.”
#2 Ask for Flexibility in the Right Way
Brody tells Us to do your research before attempting to negotiate “flex-time” with your supervisor. “Look for precedent, read the fine print [of your company] and go in with that information, not in a combative way, but in an informed way.”
She also suggests that whatever you ask for, request it in a way that is temporary (i.e., “Can we try this for a month?”) telling Us: “One thing you’ll learn quickly with a new baby is that your needs at home … change as the months go by.”
Brody’s advice for working women having more “me-time” is to twist the definition for yourself. “‘Me-time’ is just any time you spend that fuels you, that makes you happy. It doesn’t have to be you alone.”
#4 Combating ‘Mom Guilt’
During the 100 interviews that Brody conducted, she found that almost every woman said they experienced some form of guilt in their overall life. To combat these feelings, she suggests a “How Not to Quit” plan, which consists of five subsets:
a. Knowing that your discomfort is temporary.
b. Think about what you get out of work (i.e., a paycheck).
c. Realize what your work gets out of you.
d. Phasing into work (i.e., working part-time or leaving early) is really helpful.
e. Feeling a bit of success will sustain you.
#5 Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
“Partners want to help more, and moms have a hard time letting them,” says Brody. “You have to train yourself to ask for things knowing that [your partner] wants you to ask. He wants you to lean on him, and he [also] wants you to feel valued as a parent.”
#6 Fashion & Beauty Tips
Since most moms’ priorities have shifted, the amount of time you spend on yourself in the morning will be different. Brody suggests making a mini closet inside your closet of items that you know will fit you, so you don’t have to spend the mornings trying to find a comfortable outfit. Remember, time is crucial!
She also tells Us: “Before you go back to work, get a great haircut. Talk to your hairstylist about what’s going to grow out nicely.”
The Fifth Trimester will be available on April 4.