When You Miss Your Baby at Work

Many working moms have experienced grief over missing their baby, but there's a powerful way you can use your mind to help you get back to work. The "Jedi mind trick" helps you learn to compartmentalize and is particularly useful if you are returning to your job after maternity leave.


Pack It up in the Mama Box

Missing your baby while at work. Pack it up in the Mama Box

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Let’s say you just had lunch at work and you start to think about how much you miss your baby. The tears start to well up in your eyes and it’s hard to get back into your project. This is when you’ll envision your mama box. It can be any color you want, perhaps red though because it’s important you use this Jedi trick. Don’t forget to envision a lid because you need closure.

Next, take the thoughts that were upsetting you and imagine picking them up and putting them gently into the box. Take the lid and cover the box so the thoughts don’t escape. Once the thought is boxed up, swipe the box aside. Out of sight, out of mind. Then get back to work.

Don’t worry though these thoughts won’t stay in this box forever (that’s the next step). There is a time and place for everything. This is a huge lesson to learn as a working mom.

Remind yourself that there is work to be done so you can continue providing for your family. Your child is safe, is being cared for, and you will see them soon.


Unpack the Mama Box When the Time Is Right

Unpack when the timing is right

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When you leave work, un-compartmentalize (or unpack) the mama box. Open the lid and think—can you name the emotion you were feeling? This is the first step in making your emotional intelligence stronger.

When you know the type of emotion you felt it’ll be easier to spot the next time you need to use this Jedi mind trick.

Here’s the challenging step: allowing the emotion(s) to wash over you. For some, the feelings might last a long time or be especially pervasive. The emotions can contribute to a feeling of general indecision about returning to work.

Others might feel conflicted for a different reason: coming home to your family can also be emotional and, in some cases, stress-inducing.


Avoid Overpacking Your Mama Box

Missing your baby. Don''t over pack the mama box!

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If you don’t unpack the mama box the mind trick won't work. Sure, ignorance is bliss but keeping your emotions boxed up can do more harm than good.

It’s normal to feel sad or worried about your children but if you get stuck in this state it’ll be hard to stay motivated to work. Likewise, if you never acknowledge that you’re upset you’ll eventually break down.

This coping strategy can play an important role in your success as a working mom. It helps to push you forward. When you master this trick it’ll become a habit to push the mama box aside and get back to work.


Apply the Same Trick With Your Career Box

Use the Jedi mind trick with your career

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Don’t let work thoughts invade your quality family time. Pack up your work feelings into a box with your company’s logo on it. Then swipe the career box to the side.

Use all five of your senses to put the career box out of sight. Admire your child’s features like their eyes or hair. Ask them a question and listen to their voice. Give them a big hug and smell their hair. This will get you back to the present moment and help keep the career box out of mind.

Try to unpack the career box only at dedicated times, such as when you are alone during your commute to work.

Keeping the mama box shut as much as possible during these times will give you a chance to tune into and focus on your job responsibilities.

A Word From Verywell

Use this trick to stop struggling with working motherhood. When the mommy guilt is so great you feel like it will crush you, bring out the mama box. When you’re angry about missing out on a promotion while eating with your family bring out the career box. Compartmentalizing your emotions is a great tool to become more mindful of the present moment. It’ll help you deal with things at the right time for you, for your family and your career.

1 Source
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Ditzfeld CP, Showers CJ. Self-structure and emotional experienceCogn Emot. 2014;28(4):596–621. doi:10.1080/02699931.2013.845083

By Elizabeth McGrory
Elizabeth McGrory is a certified professional coach who offers life and career coaching for working moms.