I spent my Monday off running errands with my daughter, and overdosing my usage of the kitchen, which means there will be plenty of recipes coming your way this week (teaser – spinach and apple muffins, crock pot burrito bowls and of course lots of chocolate).
Having days like today make me appreciate my time that I do get to spend at home with my family.
While nursing my daughter to sleep for her first nap of the day, I reminisced about close to a year ago when baby C was first born and I was struggling with going back to work.
I found myself having anxiety about leaving C, stressing over pumping milk, keeping up my supply, not being able to soothe her cries and missing out on her life. Missing her smiles, coos, what if she did something she’s never done before and I don’t get to see it?
Forty hours a week away from my baby, it seemed like the impossible.
My husband was very sick through the last few weeks of my pregnancy all the way through the first six weeks of our baby’s life. He was actually admitted to the hospital twice, the first time just days after she was born, and the second time was the night before I was supposed to go back to work. My first thought was, “Yes, I don’t have to go back to work yet!” immediately followed by, “Holy sh*t woman, your husband is in the hospital, snap out of it!”
That was my wake up call. That was my ‘earth to mommy, time to put your big-girl work pants back on.’
I took the extra few days to make sure everything was set for C’s first days of daycare and organized the house in-between visiting the hospital and caring for my six-week old daughter.
The night before my first day at work was terrible. The babe didn’t sleep, couldn’t sleep, it was almost if she knew I was going to be away from her.
After no more than a few hours of sleep it was time to get up. Getting ready for work the next week seemed strange, like I was watching myself get dressed and put make up on. I got up earlier than I needed to and I spent those last fleeting minutes nursing this tiny little nugget.
As I drove to work, which is only a mile away, I held back tears and the feeling of guilt for going back to work and leaving her in the care of someone else instead of taking care of her myself. My body was at work, but my heart and head were at home with my Michelin-man thighed daughter with an even bigger smile.
I thought my first few days at work would drag and I would count down the minutes until I could go home, but between getting back on task, pumping and talking about C, my days went by faster than I could ever imagine. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and now being a working mom is second nature.
- Relax. Easy for me to tell you, right? But you have to soothe your anxiety and breathe. Not only is your stress doing damage to you, baby and hubby will feed off your vibes too.
- Take pictures. Bring in frames, keep out your phone, DIY the crap out of your office with that baby’s face. Keeping pictures near will help you remember why you are going back to work in the first place.
- Know why you are going back to work. It doesn’t make a difference if you can’t afford to stay home or enjoy your job, either way they both end with it being the best thing for your family and you. That’s the priority.
- Have a plan if pumping. Make a plan when and where you are going to pump/store your milk before your first day. And talk to your boss/immediate co-workers about your schedule so they know when you will be unavailable.
- Create a relationship with daycare provider. Keeping close touch with whoever will be taking care of your child is irreplaceable during those first few weeks. Be honest with them if you want pictures and updates throughout the day, or if you don’t. Creating a comfortable relationship with them will help just not for everyday communication, but you when you’re on the verge of a breakdown and have to see their face either in FaceTime or picture. And don’t worry, you won’t be the first, or the last.
- Enjoy the time you’re at home. And if you can, keep work at work so you are 100% present at home.
Lastly, and most importantly..
- Drop the guilt. You know, that sinking feeling like you’re doing something wrong by going back to work, kick it to the curb. I’ll be the first to tell you, you are not doing anything wrong by going back to work. Do not feel guilty!
You’re an employee, you’re a boss, you’re a coworker.. You’re a mom. That means you’re also a master chef, cleaning lady, sex-pot wife, Thursday night tv watcher, toenail painter, DIY-er, laundry folder extrodinare, do I need to go on?
I’m not going to lie, it’s hard, exhausting, stressful and so much more, but it’s worth it. The first few days will be hard, but life has this crazy way of moving fast and not stopping for anyone, including you momma.
You can do this, you can do everything – you created a life, how hard can work be?
You are woman, let’s hear you roar.
Oh, and don’t forget the coffee. Lots of coffee.
Cheers to you, you 40 hour+ lioness. Rawr.