So you are at a point where you are preparing to go back to work. A million thoughts are going through your head, whether you are going back after your first child or fifth, preparing for the "real world" can be a confusing time.

You are confused because you may have feelings of excitment to get your "routine" back, while also having feelings of guilt because you are about to leave your baby for long, extended priods of time. All of this normal and expected.

This being my second time around, I have recogized these feelings coming to the surface daily. I am more guilty about the feeding, then the leaving. My girl loves to eat with mama and not a huge fan of the bottle, but thankfully she loves to eat, so I know she will be okay.

After my first, I feel I did not do much to prepare to go back to work, besides just enjoy my maternity leave and then, I went back. Emotions were a rollercoaster in the beginning, but now 8 weeks after my second bundle of joy, I feel more prepared and more secure knowing I am a good mom, who happens to enjoy working and really enjoys my job.

I decided to gather my thoughts and share some secrets on how to prepare to go back to work and things to do before your maternity leave ends.

1. Get pictures printed. I mean come on mom, your phone is loaded with photos probably backing up to the early parts of your pregnacy. Go ahead and get it all printed. Keep in mind, Shutterfly has great deals, typically you can get 100 4x6 high-quality prints for free, you just pay for shipping.

2. Buy a baby book. Pay close attention, I say buy, not fill it out. You will not have time, magically you just don't have the time to fill it out. But I recommend keeping it in your briefcase and at your lunch hours, take your time and fill it out. Or you could do it during your pumping sessions. This way you can think about your baby during the day, but you can take your time filling out the baby book.

3. Update photo frames. I recommend going around the house and pulling the frames that need updating. Then take the time to get them updated while the baby naps. Plus be sure to snag a few new frames (better yet, put a few frames on your registry) and update them with photos of your new bundle of joy. You are going to want one (or three) for your desk. **Tip: Be sure to get one for your husband too. He will never do this himself, but trust me, he wants new photos for his desk too.

4. Get food prepared. I am not a huge fan of dinners that take more than 30 minutes to cook once I get home from work. So I tend to find recipes that I can make quickly. Now that I have two kids, I am having to prepare way more. Thankfully here in OKC I have a friend who started a food prep business called Easy Freezy. So basically once a month I can pick out a menu, order it, have it delivered (they ship across USA too) and then I basically add the meat, throw it in the freezer and can pull it out the night before and start it before work in the crockpot (most recipes can be done in the Instant Pot too). This will make going back so much easier.
**If you would like to put an order, I highly recommend you do. Check out the different menus, including the shipping menu. If you order, can you do me a solid and add my email in the order form as the person who recommended you ( K, thanks :)

5. Get prepared for pumping. I thankfully have two of the same Medela pump. So I am getting my bag ready with spare parts (I ordered a 3rd set from Amazon), containers, etc. I recommend getting a bag that looks professional and doesn't scream "my pump is in here." Be sure to throw in snacks (I really like KIND breakfast bars), wet wipes, nursing pads, I also suggest putting an extra basic shirt in there. One that if you needed to change, it would be decent enough to finish your work day. I also recommend getting a car adapter, so if you get stuck in a meeting or somehow can't make it back to your place to pump, you can in the car. Also don't forget your cooler bag and ice pack, this way you can store your milk in the fridge at work.

6. Clothes. I know every woman is different and every woman's body heals and drops the weight differently. For me, I feel very blessed that due to BF my body jumps back to normal pretty quickly. Also, throw in my toddler giving me the worse stomach bug of my life and you loose those last few pounds :) So while my infant slept and my toddler was staying with my MIL, I took everything out of my closet, I got the buckets that had my pre-pregnacy clothes and pulled off all my maternity clothes from the hangers. I went ahead and got the maternity clothes put away. If you are like me and not sure if they will be needed (just 1 more time), put in a bucket for storage, but if you are done having kids, consider donating to a women's shelter or keep aside for close friends who may need the clothes. I got 1/3 of my maternity clothes from a friend and those core pieces lasted both babies.

It was so nice to see my old clothes, I missed them. I used this time to also re-organize and get my clothes ready for when I go back to work. This is also a great time to recogize if you need anything for your wardrobe, also be sure to grab a few new pieces, remember you deserve it, you JUST HAD A BABY! **Tip: If you are really feeling up to it, iron a few core pieces, this way you won't when it is time to head back to work.

7. Doctor's Note. Most places of employment will require you to bring a note from your doctor clearing you for work. This typically is an easy ask when you go in for your 6 week check.

8. Beauty Routine Update. See what I did there? I made it seem more glamours then the actual action. When I say beauty routine update, I mean a few things: 1. Go through the make up bag and update where it is needed. Like for me, my toddler loves "painting" with my brushes, so it was time for some new ones, plus it is always nice to get a new mascara. Remember you just pushed out a kid (or like me, had major surgery) so a new mascara and bronzer are totally deserved. 2. Update your shampoo and conditioner: I had to do this because pregancy messed with my hair and made it super dry and now post-pregnancy hormones make my hair super oily, even right after the shower, so it was nice to adjust to a better s & c. It didn't seem to matter during maternity leave because my hair was in a bun everyday, but once you start going back to work you probably want to use a little less dry shampoo :) 3. I do recommend doing a beauty routine practice run (on a day that is flexible) you may had your morning routine down to 30 minutes to an hour before baby, but trust me, you need to add WAY more time, and if you are like me and you have a toddler that 50% of the time will still be asleep when you are getting ready in the morning and the other 50% awake and in your face, demanding all your attention while you are trying to scramble and get ready. Do a practice run and do the whole thing, make up (more than just concealer & mascara), hair, plus a morning pumping session, possibly breakfast for you and your kiddo (I tend to have two breakfast meals) due to pumping, I will have a protein bar, poptart (judge away), cereal while getting ready and then oatmel with flaxseed around 9:30 when I get to the office and settled. These two meals will make my early morning and first work-day pumping session much more succesful. This practice run will help you determine if you need to adjust your schedule. 4. Make a hair appointment. If you are like me you might have thought, yeah I am going to be one of those moms with long hair, so I can do more with it, I hope you the ability to keep it up, I for one, can not do it with a toddler and a newborn, plus it was looking sad and flat, so chop chop. I went for a neck length shaggy long bob, so long enough for a pony, short enough that is easy enough to handle, I call it my "cool mom cut." Plus going to the salon will be a good practice run for you to be away from the newborn and to test out childcare. I thankfully have my MIL watching my girls, so this time was both time for her to spend time with the girls, plus we were able to start measuring out how much milk we will need each day.

9. Room to pump. Right after you deliver and determine if you will be BF, you need to alert your HR department that when you return you will need a place to pump. Remember there are laws to protect you, your placce of employment must provide a clean, private space for you to pump. You really just need a small space, a chair, outlet and a door with a lock. If they tell you to use a public bathroom, I recommend you reminding them (kindly) of the laws in place. It truly is like them asking you to go eat in the bathroom, you need a clean space and a place that will not cause you stress.

10. Cuddle & Snuggle. I know you feel like you need to clean, vaccuum, cook, but just stop and grab that baby (and toddler) and cuddle.  As I sit here on my last day of maternity leave, I am taking the day to just cuddle and play with my girls. I am looking forward to going back to work, but I know this weekend will be spent back at home cuddling and snuggling.

Now mamas, I know this time can be hard, but know going back to work can be a good thing (if you choose to work). For me, I want my girls to see their mom as a woman who works really hard to provide and to show them us girls can do it all and have it all.