I’ll never forget my first visit back to the office when my baby was just about a month old. Still on maternity leave, I was eager to show off my adorable son to my colleagues and to reassure myself that l was still a competent career woman. I’d been wearing yoga pants and t-shirts for weeks and couldn’t wait to get into some “real” clothes. And amazingly, they fit! I put on a straight skirt and fitted jacket, packed the diaper bag, and headed out. I wanted to prove to myself — as much as to my co-workers — that I had it all together.
Before I took my baby and all my gear (stroller, diaper bag, etc.) into the office building elevator, I did a final self-check. And to my horror, I discovered that undeniable badge of new motherhood — a large white spit-up stain on the left shoulder of my dark jacket. I wasn’t going to fool anyone.
But what I didn’t know then — that I do know now — is that it really doesn’t matter. The visit has nothing to do with proving anything to anyone.
You’re really making the work visit to share with your co-workers what you’ve been up to for the past month, remind them that you’ll be back soon, and catch up on a little office gossip so you still feel in the loop. The visit should be casual and friendly… and very short.
Why so short? Try to remember when you were on the other side of one of these baby display visits. If the colleague who came in with her baby was a friend, you were probably delighted to take time away from work and coo over her new arrival. But if the co-worker was a casual acquaintance, a quick “Isn’t he adorable!” may have been all the time you wanted to devote to the visit.
Make your work visit fun for you and your co-workers. That way, you’ll go home feeling good about your return in a few weeks or months. And your colleagues will remember how much they miss you and want you back soon, too.
Here are a few “Do’s and Don’ts” to make the visit a success.
Check with the office before your visit to make sure you won’t be arriving while everyone is frantically busy or on deadline.
Be respectful of your colleagues’ time. Not everyone will want — or be able to — spend more than a moment or two chatting with you and admiring the baby.
Schedule a lunch that day if there are a few colleagues you've really missed and want to catch up with. That way, you’ll have time to chat without disturbing everyone else’s workday for too long.
Make sure the visit fits with your baby’s schedule, and not just the office’s. If the office manager tells you to arrive at 10, but you know the baby is always cranky then, reschedule the visit or go alone.
Dress professionally, or at least in neat, business casual attire. Don’t leave your colleagues with an image of you in a stretched-out sweatshirt, baggy pants, and sneakers. You can do better!
Place too much importance on the visit. It’s not a job interview! It really doesn’t matter if you’ve got spit-up on your shoulder or your baby starts crying hysterically when the boss picks him up.
Hand your baby to an assistant and try to get back to work. That time will come soon enough.
Overstay your welcome. Be sensitive to the signs of when it’s time to leave.
Gloat too much about how blissful you are at home with your new baby. They'll be able to tell just by looking at your smiling face, anyway.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.