Let’s get real for a second, being a mom is hardwork. Being a working mom brings up emotions, insecurities, and fears you never knew you could have. Over the last 16 months I have been a working mom, and let’s be real for a moment it is hard. Much harder than I let anyone know. Things were tough when I went back, Harper hadn’t slept through the night yet and we were facing major regression, also I felt very unsure of my job being one of the few mamas in my position I didn’t know what this meant for me.
With out sharing the gritty details I survived, and I had a lot of learnings along the way. That’s why I felt I should share my learnings as a first-time mom, going back to work and making it through! This is my idea of a survival guide, or at least a path to sanity…
// Caring for your caregiver //
For me the biggest stressor was Harper’s care, initially we had my mother-in-law coming over 3-4 days a week. Sounds ideal right….nope, well not for us. My husbands relationship with his mother has never been a Norman Rockwell painting. I had hesitations but the price was right and we were both overwhelmed by daycare.
Over the next few months, while I struggled with pumping and keeping my supply up, I would come home to a laundry list of what we shouldn’t be doing. It was not the way to go, most days ended with anger or tears. Luckily, and unluckily, we found ourselves in need of new care. After our experience we knew what we wanted, and what we could afford. With our non-traditional work schedules in-home care made the most sense and we stumbled across the most wonderful woman. She holds the same values as us, her kids are a dream and Harper has flourished under her care.
Morale of the story…it it doesn’t fit don’t force it! You are going through enough trying to navigate all your new responsibilities. Your caregiver should be your partner not your burden.
// Setting a Schedule //
With babies being babies they don’t always follow the 8 hour sleep pattern you have been pining for since their birth. Talk to your partner and make a ‘midnight’ schedule….helps avoid those 3 am fights. We split the week up by days; Monday, Wednesday, Friday and every other Saturday were my night time duties. I have learned to sleep through a rave now!
Another schedule to set is your babies! After the famed fourth trimester we were still working out Harper’s schedule and around 6 months hit the sweet spot! Once we had a rough daily schedule, not too strict here, it allowed us to set up a daily routine for her so she wasn’t so out of whack when we were home with her. Once we were with our new caregiver, and someone followed our wishes, we had a happy who slept at night, ate regularly, and seemed happier!
// Find your Mama Muse //
We all need inspiration and when venturing into something so scary, it helps to have a spirit animal. Mine is my mother. My mom was the bread-winner, but always there to help you with homework, listen to your woes, and just be there. This is something I asked her about when I was getting ready to go back to work and her response was perfect…
If you are going to go back, don’t look back. Be confident in your decision and never let yourself feel like less of a mother. Always leave your day at the door, you are a mom first! And let life happen, it’s messy and full of undone laundry but it should be fun!
Pretty great right?! She is always open to talk about her struggles, she is there to let me know despite a tough day that I am a good mom, and in the end reminds me everyday of what is important about being a mom. Despite her high-level job I never felt like she wasn’t there, and I am so grateful to say that.
// Let your Creativity Flow //
Really I should say get a hobby, but that sounds so rude right? Towards the end of my maternity leave I started getting back into my old creative practices, it was great! Part of a stagnant feeling I had with work is that I felt I went from a very creative position to all business and that part of me was starving! My husband’s initial advice for a hobby seemed impossible, like naps or reading a book, but once we had Harper’s care and schedule worked out I looked at how I was spending my time. There was time, I just needed to put the phone down, turn off the TV and do it.
From that thought a few upcoming projects have arose, this blog, fabric dying and some more exciting prospects a little too fresh to mention. Even if it’s knitting during your nightly TV, do it! I mean guys they have adult coloring books now!
// Making time for US//
This part is obvious, difficult, and probably the easiest to let slide, but just as important. My husband and I both work in retail, which means non-traditional hours/days. With our schedules, and the cost of in-home care we can’t afford to have days off together each week. Guys this is how much I love our nanny! Date night, night-in movies, brunches, weekends away…really whatever you can swing.
Making time for your partner can feel impossible, I will be the first to admit I did it. After the baby, cleaning up and getting ready for the next day I felt exhausted. This ended in a fight where we blew up at each other feeling neglected by the other, but neither felt we could say anything. It’s that classic case of not talking the same “love language,” a new thing I have now become obsessed with. If you have not heard of this do yourself a favor and take a look, it’s like a love smack-yourself-on-the-forehead moment! We are still working on making this a priority, but we are trying and that’s key!
I by no means claim to be an expert, but know that it has always helped me to hear of others journeys. We are all in this together, with love and support we can make it through!