Going back to work after maternity leave
Three tips to help the working mom transition back to work postpartum
While “imposter syndrome” around moms seems to get its fair share of the limelight, today I want to discuss the strange pull of going back to work after having kids. In my circle it seems there is no middle ground between working moms. Let’s face it. All moms are working moms… it is just a question of do they get paid in cash - hah! There are those mothers who feel like being a family manager or stay at home mom (SAHM) is the role they were created to fulfill. On the opposite end of the spectrum there are those who immediately go back to work to provide for their family and have no desire to run their household as a full time position. Both are beautiful. Neither are wrong! As a mother of multiples, I understand that it isn’t always a cut and dry decision. Plenty of twin moms I know stay at home because their careers didn’t pay enough to cover childcare for two babies at a time. On the flip side, I know those who work simply to cover the bills. What about middle ground?
For me personally, I live in a purgatory of loving what I do, but also wanting to be the one who cares for my kids. I don’t want to stop writing or creating content, but I also can’t imagine someone coming in to care for my kids. The gravitational pull I have to both responsibilities is unlike anything I’ve felt before. Going back to work is anything but easy. From the sheer workload to the judgement for working too soon or working at all, I’ve experienced both sentiments from others. Motherhood is not one-size-fits-all and looks very different from family to family.
Here are 3 things that have helped me as I re-entered the workforce postpartum:
Prioritize Your To-Do List.
Said another way, pick what is the most important for you to accomplish each day. I like to pick three things… one career related, one personally related, and one house related. This could look like I want to finish writing an article, go for a walk around the neighborhood, and do laundry. I will likely get more done than that, but some days I won’t. Even on those days, doing the three things I set out to do helps immensely with my mental health.
Continue Your Education.
No, I don’t mean go back to school, but please do if you want to! Basically, just keep learning. Reading books can not only can teach you valuable lessons and parenting skills, but they can also make you feel not so alone in your feelings. Personally I loved reading How not to Hate your Husband after Kids by Jancee Dunn. It could be called how not to hate your wife after kids too, as it equally covers both sides. I think this should be required reading for any caregiver / parenting duo. Other books that deal with mothering and going back to work are The Fifth Trimester by Lauren Smith Brody, I Know How She Does it by Laura Vanderkam, Getting to 50/50 by Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober, and Work Pump Repeat by Jessica Shortall. If you don’t have time to curl up with a book, remember that most books are available via audio books these days. Don’t sleep on podcasts either!
Scary, I know; however, you can’t, nor should you do everything alone. Enable others (you trust) to help by sharing your schedule and being honest about what you can and can’t do. Hearth Display has a schedule sharing feature that allows those with profiles to see who is doing what at which time. Something like this allows you to have clear responsibilities and coordination needs top of mind at all times. Sure you have the app on your phone, but displaying it in your home is key to seeing how you or others can help carry the load.
I’m a “do it all” girl and if there’s one thing motherhood has already taught me is that I can’t do it all. Checking all the daily to-dos is no longer my goal. While in theory that should be somewhat scary for my Type A personality, it is mainly a relief. I’ve learned to be more laid back and let go of what I can’t control.
For someone who is always doing something whether it is work or play, I’ve learned knowing my to-do list will never end is actually a strength. It feels weird going back to work after having kids, as most of the time everyone there is the same and expects you to come back just as you were before. You’re not the same. Sure a child has been birthed, but a parent has been too. It’s okay to change and adapt to your new world…in fact it is encouraged. Lean into it! It may just make you a better co-worker, friend, and parent.
On a more trivial note, don’t forget humor (laugh at everything!) and to check your pride at the door. Oh and a versatile work bag that fits your laptop and bottle and/or pump needs is always a good idea. Personally, I love the Dagne Dover Landon weekender!
This post was guest written by Lauren Mulenos, a content creator located in Los Angeles, California. She resides there with her husband, Great Dane, cats, and brand new twins. As a recovering perfectionist, she can’t wait to get her hands on her Hearth Display next year. You can follow along with her at LMents of Style.
Congratulations Lauren on your new little ones!
Want to dive deeper in goal setting with your family? Check out some of our other posts on similar topics:
A Paper Planner Worked for Me, Until I Had Twins
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