To work or not to work is a choice all new moms are faced with. Everyone has different circumstances that drive them to that decision. As the two Smarty Pants bloggers who did decide to go back to work, we thought we’d team up to share our perspectives and tips on “how we do it”. We’re not here to say if one way is better than the other but we do think it’s possible to have it all, or close to it anyway… it’s just a matter of finding the right balance, asking for help when you need it, and prioritizing.
Speaking of … topic #1 is all about Redefining What Your Priorities Are. In this series, we thought it’d be fun to each offer up our own perspective on the topic of the week. So here we go…
When Matt and I decided to have a family, I really didn’t give it a second thought as to whether or not I would go back to work after my first child was born. I never considered myself the “stay-at-home” type. That was until I was on maternity leave with Jake and only had about 2 weeks to go! I was just beginning to get into my grove and honestly, I couldn’t imagine anyone else taking care of my child. At that point however, it really didn’t seem like an option to stay at home … it wasn’t part of our “plan”. So, when Jake was 13 weeks old, and with very mixed emotions, I headed back to work. I will admit the first couple weeks/months were tough. But then I gradually got into the swing of things and remembered why it was that I had planned to do this all along. Working gives me an outlet, a chance to challenge myself and to be with friends.
That being said, I needed to make a lot of adjustments. I quickly realized that some of the things I used to think were so super important that I had to stay past 7pm to get done really weren’t that important. That leaving at 5pm because my daycare closed at 5:30pm was okay. And taking a sick day to be at home with my child who has a fever is not the end of the world! I also had to accept the fact that my house may not be as clean as I would like … that the dust on the blinds was worth the time spent playing with Jake (or sleeping!). Or that I might have to pick and choose the social events I wanted to do.
As a mom, we have so many roles we have to play … the wife, the mother, the friend, the sister, the daughter, the employee, the housekeeper. As the saying goes – you can’t be perfect at everything or you won’t be good at anything. I try to remember this often; especially when I feel overwhelmed or that one of my treasured roles is slipping. My family is, and always will be, my number one priority. Matt, Jake and baby-to-be are what makes my world go round. I am very lucky to have such a wonderful husband who helps to take the burden off some of the other things. I am also lucky to have a great job with the flexibility I need to get my work done but also manage the mom things that come up. So how do I prioritize all the important things in my life? I try to define the moment and then decide what the priority needs to be and have learned to accept that some of the other things may not get done … and that’s okay.
Working fulfills my life, just as being a mother does, so I strive to give both my best. I realize that there are limitations and sacrifices that still have to be made, but if you find the right employer who supports your efforts as a mother and employee, you can make working not only manageable, but successful.
This fall I experienced going back to work after maternity leave for the second time. And being a little bit wiser this go-around, I was better prepared. I knew it would be hard to find time to pump (I was still breast-feeding), but I was willing to make the sacrifice because it kept me connected to my baby. I got more organized at work. I worked with Human Resources to set up a place for me to pump prior to returning to work. I planned for the pumping by blocking out 20 minutes in the am and 20 in the afternoon on my calendar so that meetings would not conflict. I brought my lunch everyday so that I could make up that time by working through lunch. Needing to leave work right at 5pm made me very efficient and focused. It wasn’t always easy to maintain this schedule, but I did it and I have no regrets. The important thing is to prioritize what matters most to you.
To make this series successful, we really want to hear from you too! Let us, and other working moms, know how you have redefined your priorities to be able to have the best of both worlds.