Now, for starters I would like to preface this post by saying that I really do love what I do for work and I work very hard to do a very good job every day. My job is such that I have the opportunity to be a part of the lives’ of children. Just being able to be a small part of that, and helping to develop such precious beings is amazing. With that said though, since I became a mama, I struggle every day with being a working mother. As many of you know, just being a mother is tough (as is getting up and working every day). But put those together (with all the other things that you are juggling in your life as well) and it is HARD!!! Since becoming a mother, the hardest thing for me is not the effort it takes to put into it all (although that is not easy), but it is the time away from my little guy. You see, while I love being a part of the lives of many children, the life that is a part of me is my child’s.
So, having said that, I thought it would be nice to do a little post about what I have learned with regard to going back to work. This could be after you have been out on maternity, after summer vacation (one of the benefits of working in a school system), or vacation. Whatever the reason, going back to work is difficult. You may read this and thing “DUH!” but I hope if anything, you may feel a little bit of reassurance that you may not be the only one feeling the way you do.
In honor of work being a four letter word, I thought I would include my top four points when returning to work as a mama.
- Take as much time as possible: I mostly mean this with regard to your maternity leave. While it is admirable to want to return to work to prove that you are still
dedicated to your job, if you can, don’t rush back. I had 6 weeks of maternity leave. I was not eligible for FMLA (fyi look it up if you are wondering for yourself) because I had not been working at my current school district for a year. Let me tell you, returning after 6 weeks is TOUGH! Your body has hardly even healed by that point. Whatever your situation may be, make the most of your time off!
- Find childcare that really makes you COMFORTABLE: Well, as comfortable as possible. I was lucky that when I returned to work after 6 weeks, my mother watched my son full-time at my house. Believe me, I KNOW that is nice. If you have the opportunity to have a similar set-up, especially if you are having to return to work quickly, make the most of it. Now that my son is about 6 months, he is with my mother part-time and at daycare (“school”) the rest of the time. My biggest piece of advice for choosing a daycare or any other method of childcare is do what feels best. I don’t think you will ever feel like anything is truly perfect, because we as parents are the best people to watch our own. However, that is not always possible. For me I chose a daycare based on the following: safety, ideology, and price (in that order). I also like that the daycare my son attends has an option to access a camera in the room throughout the day. The camera feature is nice for quick peeks in on your little one during breaks because just a simple little glimpse eases your mind a little (it does for me at least).
- Cry it Out: …if you need to! Crying is a natural response to very emotional situations. For some of us, we may have more of a natural tendency to bring on the water works (That’s Me!), for others, that may not be the case. Neither is more admirable or strong or correct than the other, it is just how we are as individuals and that is okay! Now I am not saying that you should sit in front of your mirror witnessing “the ugly cry” (I have personally perfected the ugly cry…hehe), but I am saying allowing yourself to express your emotions in a much needed way is okay, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it for a second. There is even research out there that suggests that crying releases endorphins which is your body’s response to pain. So crying really can make you feel better! One tip though, do not do it in front of your little one. Seeing you upset may upset your kiddo, and cause unnecessary stress to your little one. Transitions (like you going back to work) are already changes and stressful enough, so it is just good to be cognizant of that for your little one’s sake.
- It’s Okay to be “SELFISH” with your Mommy Time: This is something that I became
okay with very quickly after becoming a mother. There are things that will come up when you have kids, like evenings out with friends, happy hour, etc., most with the expectation that your children will not be joining. You should do whatever is right for you! Do not get me wrong, every mama needs a little time away from your kiddos, but for me, as a mama, I prefer those times to be short and not very often. Some may not understand or even agree with your urge to only participate in “children included” activities, but that is okay in my book. They can stay baffled about the whole situation, and I will stay selfish about my Mommy time. I think this is extremely present in the lives of working mothers. For me, the 3-4 hours a day during the week and my weekends are about making memories with my child. So, if you feel like spending your off-time with your kiddo, DO NOT feel guilty about it; rather, be proud of your commitment to being a mommy!
With all this said, I would like to say this…LOVE is also a four letter word. I LOVE being a Mama, and I LOVE what I do as a professional. So, LOVE!