First Days as a Working Mom
I’m the Editor of the Mom to Mom Blog and in August I myself became a mom. After 12 weeks maternity leave, I returned to work just a few weeks ago. To be completely honest, in the days leading up to my return I couldn’t talk about going back to work without crying. I loved being home with my son Liam, even more than I expected I would. I also had no idea what our new life would look like and I was scared that I wasn’t going to like it. How would my little guy do in child care? How would both of us handle the 45+ minute commute? Would I be able figure out the logistics of pumping at work? And most importantly, would I still get any quality time with him on weekdays?
So far, I would say things are going very well. In that time, I’ve discovered a few things:
–I’m glad he’s at a center close to my office. Before Liam’s arrival, my husband and I hemmed and hawed about whether it would be easier for him to be at a center close to home or close to my office. In the end, we opted for a center near my office and I’m so glad we did. I love knowing that I’m seconds away from seeing him when I leave the office. I’ve even been able to go over to breastfeed during lunch which gives me the opportunity to hold and comfort him and to talk to his teachers outside of the busy drop off and pick up windows. And the commute hasn’t been bad so far, in fact he usually sleeps both ways. I’m sure this will change as he gets older but for now, it hasn’t been the problem I thought it would be.
–I’m glad we started him in child care when we did. Liam started in child care at 12 weeks and seemed so much smaller than his infant classmates that it made me nervous we were starting him too young. What I hadn’t considered was how much more difficult the transition would have been for Liam had he been a few months older when he developed stranger anxiety and a more rigid schedule. Being as young as he is, Liam adapted really quickly to his new weekday schedule and goes to the arms of his teachers without complaint. There were enough tears on my part the first few mornings I dropped him off, I can’t imagine how much more difficult it would have been if he was also upset.
–I’ll still get quality time, as long as I make it a priority. During maternity leave there seemed to be no need to carve out special bonding time with Liam, I was with him all day long. As I returned to work I realized that while we spent all our time together, I also spent much of that time multitasking. After all, there was always laundry to fold or a phone to answer or a closet that desperately needed organizing. My husband came up with a plan to solve this: a distraction free hour. From around 6 to 7pm on weeknights we don’t allow any distractions–no tv, no blackberries, no household chores or answering the phone. We don’t do anything particularly noteworthy–we usually just play or read books or listen to music and dance–but it forces us to put everything else on hold so we can just hang out as a family and it has become my favorite time each day.
–Even though things are going well, there are going to be bad days. Some days I’m going to have spit up stains on my clothes as I walk into a meeting. Some days Liam is going to cry and scream when I drop him off. Some days I’m going to feel like a bad mom, a bad employee, a bad wife or all three. I’m starting to learn to cut myself some slack on those days and thankfully, so far they have been the exception and not the rule. Right now, that’s good enough for me.