Going back to work after having a baby can feel tortuous. If you are anything like me, the mom guilt creeps in and takes over. Before going back to work, being home with Arya all day was tough. What she needed was to be around other kids in a learning environment with someone who wasn’t me so she could gain independence. I had a long list of reasons why daycare and me working was necessary. But that did not make the actual returning to work easier. And leaving Arya at daycare for the first couple weeks broke my heart. I hated hearing her cry as I walked out the door.
I have good news though. Some time has passed, and things are getting easier for everyone. Arya has been at daycare less than a month and I am only 6 weeks into my new job, but we have found our groove. And it is a groove worth sharing! I am including my tips for helping other working moms find their grooves as well.
Go Back To Work When You Are Ready
This tip might sound misleading because I don’t think anyone is ever really ready to leave their baby in the care of another while they go back to work. I know I wasn’t. The readiness I felt was the itch for more. Being a mom makes my heart so full, but I know I can still do more for others. My identity is hugely being a mom, but it is not the only thing. With each day Arya’s urge to explore, create, and test limits grew. This is all normal, but I knew she needed to be in an environment that allowed her to do all these things with more than what was available at home. She also constantly wanted to play with other kids. With no one close in age to her near us, it made things more difficult and I felt bad always carrying her out of the way of the older kids at the park. We both needed and wanted more. That is how I knew we were ready.
Find the Right Care
I was so lucky to be home with Arya the whole first year of her life. With the stress of deployment, I cannot imagine how I would have handled putting her into daycare at 3 months old. But so many moms do. Then at a year old, Arya’s auntie was her nanny for another 4 months. It was amazing for me to have someone I trusted most with Arya and caring for her while we were apart for the longest we have ever been. It also got me ready for the big day when Arya was finally going to Montessori School.
Montessori School has been amazing so far and I absolutely love the teachers. I get pictures and updates every day. Arya’s teachers truly care about her and it shows. Arya had trouble napping at first, which we had a feeling was going to happen. The teachers met with me at the end of the day to brainstorm how to help Arya. I told them how she is a light sleeper and we have a fan and sound machine to drown out any outside sound. The very next day they brought in a sound machine just for her and she has been a napping pro at school ever since. This is just one of the many ways they have already gone above and beyond to make Arya comfortable and put us parents at ease.
My advice for finding the right care is to take your time, do your research and trust your gut. You know your baby best and you know what feels right.
Find the Right Job
As if leaving your baby to go back to work isn’t tough enough. Going back to work to a job you don’t enjoy can make being a working mom ten times harder. When you don’t enjoy your job, it can have a detrimental effect on yourself and the relationships around you. The last thing you need is to come home drained, in a bad mood, and not wanting to do it all over again tomorrow. There is more to work than money. Having a job you love helps make the time away from your baby more worth it. You will be in a better mood, less stressed, and more energized at the end of the day. It will help you enjoy the time with your baby even more and you will be ready to take on each day.
My first job back after having a baby was not one I enjoyed. I felt so unhappy leaving Arya and going to a job where I felt unappreciated and micromanaged. I knew right away I was not going to settle for that job. I started looking for others almost right after I started. Now I am at a company and in a role where I feel appreciated, respected, and my work matters. Coming home to Arya, I am in a better mood and excited to talk about my day with my family.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case for moms. They think that because they were not working for so long, they take what they can get even, if they have more to offer. They stay in a job because they don’t think they deserve more or can find better. I am telling you, you can, and you will if you know what to look for and how to get it. Sometimes you got to take a risk to achieve the job that is right for you.
In times like these, positive affirmations can be the thing to keep you going. I recommend writing them down and putting them where you can see them every day. I have notes I’ve written myself and I have saved notes others have given me. I make a little part of my wall at a work specifically for affirmations. When I am having a tough day, it is an amazing reminder that I really am making a difference. If you don’t know what positive affirmation to tell yourself. Ask a friend or family member what they think is your biggest strength. You might be surprised to know what other people notice about you.
The first day of my new (second) job, I was so nervous. I sat in my car for a few minutes before going in just telling myself positive affirmations. I needed to remind myself I deserved this and I was going to do great. It worked and I had the best first day of a job I have ever had.
Give It Some Time
In a world of instant gratification, this one can be tough. Being a working mom is not easy and it is especially tough in the beginning. You are going to find yourself questioning everything. Is it really the right time to go back? Is this really the right care for my baby? Will she cry every time I leave? And these thoughts are normal.
Sometimes you have to give it a minute… or maybe a month. Change can be hard especially a big change like going back to work. But like everyone was telling me, I will tell you; It gets easier. Honestly, leaving her does NOT get easier, but the routine does. You just start figuring it out and it all starts to become normal.
My time with Arya during the week has become even more special. I used to have moments of crying and needing a break (which still does happen occasionally). Now I have more patience because I am treasuring every second I can get with her. Even the temper tantrums. I can confidently tell you, it won’t be like this for long. I can’t be the only one thinking, “How do I only have 16 ½ more years until she graduates?!” It feels too soon already.
Embrace the Chaos
If you haven’t seen my Instagram story, trust me when I say last week was a mess. We could not get out the door on time and nothing was going right. I literally did not know what day it was at one point. These days are going to happen, and you just have to embrace them. After I yelled at every red light, I found myself laughing because who cares. We will make it to daycare and work when we get there and yelling at a red light won’t help us get there sooner. I have too much to be thankful for to let the chaos of motherhood and life bring down my spirit. I have an incredible family and a great job and great friends. Life is a beautiful chaotic thing and I wouldn’t trade a single day.
Sometimes you just have to cry or scream or rant. So do it and allow yourself to feel what you feel. Then move on and be happy. Life is too short, and we can’t go back and change a thing. So make sure you are living and working towards the life you want and don’t let the chaos hold you back. Life will always give you reasons to quit of you look for them. Try to focus on the beautiful life you already made for yourself. See the chaos as a reminder that most of your days are good and you will not be defined by the bad ones.
I know as time goes on, new changes will throw a wrench in this groove and that’s ok. We will adapt, overcome, and find a new groove. But for now, I am celebrating this one. Being a mom has some tough days. Throw a career into it and I have definitely felt like I’ve been failing at both. When those feelings come again, I will think back to these moments. It is possible to be an amazing mama and a strong confident business professional. It is who I am, and you should know you are capable of it too.
If this post resonated with you or reminded you of some you care about. Reach out to me. Let’s talk and celebrate your win or let’s chat about where you want to be. Life is amazing and you should not even for a single second feel like you are settling for a career or life less than what you deserve. Let’s talk dreams, goals, and an action plan.
Can’t wait to hear from you!