Dear New Mom,
Going back to work is something that I stressed about from day 1 of my pregnancy. I imagine as you read this, you can relate in some ways. My hope is that this reminds you to take a deep breathe and embrace the present, it only happens one time. I so wish I could go back and have a do-over.
How will I do it all?
How will I spend time with her in the morning if she wakes up right when I have to leave the house and sit in 45 minutes of traffic?
If I don’t see her in the morning, I need to leave work super early to see her before bedtime! If bedtime is 7, I’m only going to see her for 1.5 hours.
How will I walk the dog, feed the animals, get dinner, start bedtime routine, get her to bed, workout, catch up on emails all in just a few hours?
If she goes to daycare, I'll need to factor in pick up and drop off time, now I’m only at work 9-4, that’s hardly anything! Will my boss be ok with that?
How will it look for my coworkers? Ugh.
During maternity leave, every time someone asked when I was going back to work, it sucked the joy right out of me. (if you’re reading this, don’t ask anyone else that question while on maternity leave). I had to think about that dreaded day when I had to finally face the reality of the 1000 unanswered questions I had running through my head and actually leave my baby, who I had been with for 24 hours a day for 3 months.
As my return to work day neared, I started to add to my list of stressors:
How am I going to pump and have milk for her everyday?
Do I do that in while I’m driving to work so that I don’t spend work time pumping?
I stressed about someone else caring for Harper, she choked a lot. How would know someone else could care for her when this happened?
Will they know how to feed her, follow the routine, and get her to sleep?
I stressed about my commute and driving in traffic, what if something happened to me? What if something happened to her while I was so far away?
This was my day-to-day stress figuring out how I was going to do everything I was doing now with a new baby on top of it.
I’m here to tell you that life changes for working moms after having a baby. We stress about all of these things because that’s our past life and we try to imagine merging the two together. However, they do not merge. Life changes, our priorities change, for good.
In this new life, we slow down in the morning and don’t stress about leaving the house at 7:23 am to beat traffic.
We embrace a few more minutes of cuddling and reading books before heading off to the races in the morning.
We establish the time we leave work and leave confidently not worrying about what other people think.
We work our a**es off while we are at work so that we are valuable to our employer and coworkers.
We ask for flexibility from our job so that one or two days a week we don’t have to stress about leaving the house on time and rushing home to pick up from daycare EVERYDAY.
We don't apologize when we come in later or have to leave earlier to tend to our children.
We put our phones away when we walk in the door and pick it up after the baby is asleep.
We are fully present with the quality time we have with our baby.
We have a long bedtime routine where we read books, cuddle, and bond with our baby before they go to sleep.
We workout on the weekends when we have some help and less obligations.
We try to eat healthy and go to bed early for balance.
We let the laundry pile up for longer than we normally would.
We outsource some help if needed-- meal prep, cleaning, house care.
We ask for help when we need it. We lean on fmaily and friends to help us find a balance.
We take lots of deep breathes.
If you are in this part of life, I hope you can take a deep breathe and soak in all the moments you have with your baby right now. Try not to stress, obsess, and plan exactly what your new life and new “normal” will be. It’s going to work out, but you have to take it slow. The hard truth is although you are a valuable employee to your company you are replaceable. The time you spend happy and with your baby is not.
Establish your priorities now and ensure that whatever they may be are on top of mind as you make your day to day decisions. Pick those priortites and let the other things fall to the bottom of the to-do and worrying list, because at this time in your life they are not a priority.
Nichole @ Little Peach Sleep
For those of you interested, here's my going back to the workforce journey:
March 2019- Found out I was pregnant, yay!
July 2019- Told my coworkers the news.
August 2019- Started to explore flexibility options when I returned to work after maternity leave. After 2 months of back of forth, my company agreed to one work from home day per week. I knew for myself to manage being a new mom and a working mom, I needed a day that moved at a slower pace. I need a day free from commuting and watching the clock. I needed a day that I could look foward to each week. I needed a day to see Harper more than morning & night.
November 2019- Harper was born and maternity leave began! 8 weeks paid + 1 month of my vacation days used to allow for 3 months of time with Harper. I saved all my vacation from the year to plan for this.
January 2020- Harper's feeding issues arose and I panicked about going back to the office. From here on out, I was all stress.
February 2020- Nanny we had lined up fell through 2 weeks before I was going back to work. BIG surprise and stressor. Also, was this a sign I wasn't ready to go back? I went into my office to talk to my boss about extending my maternity leave a few weeks while I worked on Harper's eating issues and found new childcare. They were totally fine with it and I was even able to officially use more FMLA time since it was a new year (look into this if your maternity leave overlaps into another year). Technically, I could have taken another 8 weeks off and had my job protected, but I would not have been paid.
March 2020- I returned for my first week back in the office since November. Honestly, the day was fine. I definitely was teary driving into the office but it was good to see my coworkers and get back in the swing of things. I checked the monitor during naps and got lots of pictures from our new nanny. I left work confidently at 3:50 PM so I could make it home in time to spend time with Harper. Jared was in NY traveling for work, so it was just me.
LOCKDOWN- I went back to work for 2 weeks before COVID lockdown started. Jared and I were both home and our nanny watched Harper while we worked 8-5.
August 2020-March 2021- My company planned to return to the office each month and as every month came and passed as they pushed the return to office date out. I essentially experienced the return to work stress every month for almost a year. The blessing in all of it was that I got to be in the same house as Harper as she grew up each day for a while 1.5 years.
March 2021- A whole year after I returned to the office from maternity leave, I returned to work for good post COVID.
May 2021- My nanny quits.
June 2021- I decide to leave the corporate world and stay home with Harper and work full time on Little Peach Sleep! It's all come full circle for me and I can't imagine it any other way. My life has changed 100% as I let my priorities and my heart guide me.