Recently, I saw a post on social media by a sweet mama that was preparing to return to work from maternity leave. She was looking for encouragement and advice, and as a mom that has gone back to work after two babies I know she needed it. Leaving a child in the care of a family member, nanny, daycare of even a spouse is one of the hardest things any mom will ever do.
I can remember when it was time for me to return to work after Hayden was born I was a complete wreck. Two things really kept me going in those early days. I was comforted to know he was going to daycare at my husbands work, and that my husband could walk over and see him anytime he wanted. (or when I asked him to) I was also super lucky to have a flexible job that allowed me to pop in daycare on lunch breaks and hold him. Still, after three of the most challenging months of learning to keep a human alive I felt like I was just getting to know him, and I couldn’t imagine putting him in the care of a stranger. Over time, I saw that the women that cared for my son loved him and kept him safe while I was at work, and I visited less and less. I never stopped thinking about him or worrying about him, but I did learn to accept that part of my role as a mother is to provide for my family.
When Brylee came a long we had the best three months together. She was a spring baby, so we went for walks every day. I already knew how to keep a human alive, so the focus was more on love and connection. I was better at taking care of both of us. I went back to work at my fittest as an adult and felt like I could conquer anything!
The high of maternity leave quickly faded as big changes happened at work that impacted me in a huge way. That’s when I made the decision to lean into the idea of real work-life balance. I wasn’t going to miss big moments with my kids, and I wasn’t going to spend my evenings working from home. This is when I really stopped trying to impress anyone with all the hours I put in, and started focusing on quality instead of quantity. I made the most of my working hours, so I could make the most of my time at home. This is one of the most valuable lessons I learned as as mother and as a leader. As women on my team began to grow their families I committed that their families came first, and this encouraged productivity and balance.
Today, for all the mamas out there struggling with this decision, I am sharing encouragement and advice from some amazing working moms. #whoruntheworld
Danielle Butler, Sparkles and Lattes
Being a mom is tough work. Especially when you have to balance work and home life. But having the daily adult interaction, setting goals for myself and killing it at work meant that I was a better mom, wife and friend. You got this!
Cailyn Howard, Lattes and Sundays
Being open with your boss is CRUCIAL. If you’re starting to become drained whether that is at work from staying up all night with the baby, or being drained from work and coming home and not giving your child the attention he/she needs, let your employer know! They may be able to cut your hours back (if that’s what you’d like) or even allow you to partially work from home. If you simply miss the heck out of your little one, ask your boss if you can FaceTime with your babysitter or watch the live stream of the daycare (if they provide it)! Alternatively, you may need to search for a new position that works with your new schedule. While less money may be scary to think about, you’ll NEVER look back and think “I should have spent less time with my baby and more time in the office.”
Lauren White, A Life of Love and Joy
As a mom to two toddlers, I did have to return back to work (I’m a teacher) after taking some time off (6 weeks for my first, 7 months for my second). It’s legit hard work. The hardest work I ever had to do. All the praise to SAHM because their gig is hard work too. But it’s different for a SAHM — my best advice? Remind yourself of your reasons for working — the support the family budget, to teach the child (children) about the importance of having a career and working, and also teaching your spouse, yourself, and your children that multitasking can be done — and can be done successfully if there is a proper family support system in place.
Selena Gasbarro, The Selena Gasbarro Blog
Coppelia Acevedo, Coppelia Marie
I had 4 friends who all had babies at around the same time. Imagine how I felt when they all stayed home and I was the only one “leaving my baby.” #heartbreaking I hated returning to work, even though I loved what I did as a radio DJ! It’s just SO hard to leave your babies. It didn’t help that the other working moms I knew had older kids. They had returned to work after staying home when their babies were little.
My hubby and I crunched numbers and, as Christians, we prayed HARD. He wanted to work and I wanted to be home, but for whatever reason, work searches were not yielding a good job and my job had great benefits. We kind of felt stuck. Less than one year prior we had moved from Puerto Rico to California to take that job. It was a dream and an answer to many prayers, but I was still torn about living the job dream and living the mommy dream.
Here’s what I did: I nursed around the clock, on demand to bond when I was with my baby. I wore him in a carrier when I vacuumed (and he’d fall asleep!) I came home for “lunch and breastfeeding breaks” (thank God, we lived close enough to do that!) </em><em>My hubby became a stay at home dad for a season and ROCKED it! He took amazing care of our baby and of mommy when I was feeling the guilt. We did not have relatives close by during that season, but we relied heavily on our church family for help, advice baby sitters etc.
Looking back, the only thing I’d do differently is the way I treated myself. I wish I would’ve seen the blessings we had (everyone was healthy, the job was a dream, we had flexibility to nurse and tons of baby friends for play dates, etc…)Instead, I think I was too focused on wishing I was a stay at home mom, without really considering this: Would I be happy at home? Or did I have everything I needed to be happy? Turns out, I had everything and more.
My Encouragement & Advice
They will only be little for a little while, and you want to do everything you can to make their childhood meaningful for you both. Make the moments you do have together matter. My son is now five, but I rarely say no when he asks me to lay in his bed at night. I know he won’t always ask. I still sit in the rocking chair with my daughter most nights, and hold her until she falls asleep. I probably will keep doing so until she will no longer fit in my arms. When they say play with me… play. When they say hold me… hold your baby.
I could spend the evenings catching up on work, but when I am with them I want to be there… connecting, loving. Most people at work know that between 6:00-8:30 each evening I won’t even be looking at my phone. This time is for dinner, bath, and bedtime. So many beautiful memories have happened during that time, and I am thankful I have made this a priority. You have to be really good at compartmentalizing as a working mom. When you are home, be at home.
Knowing that working 24-7 is no long an option, figure out what your new 100% at work looks like and own it. You can provide for your family, have professional success, and be the best mom your kids can ever imagine. It’s all about balance. There will be time when things get out of balance, but know that only you can put things back in balance.
For the moms out there not sure if they can do this… You can. It might seem impossible in those days leading up to returning to work, but you will find your strength to do this for your family and the pride to do it for your employer. It gets easier every day. You got this mama! Be brave, and be patient. You will find your way.
I would love to hear encouragement and advice for a new mom returning to work from all the amazing mamas out there. Drop your advice in the comments below!