Starting the year off as a new mom, back at work from four months off was quite a shock to my system. My baby obviously didn’t understand that mommy has to go to work so perhaps a full night’s sleep is in order. My brain also didn’t understand that mommy has to go to work so perhaps full-working order is in order either, porridge brain sticks around way longer than it should be allowed to.
So, how do women all over the universe manage to work and mom all at the same time? This was a question I asked myself over and over on the first day back. By the second day I just jumped in feet first and here we are, three months into the year where my maternity leave seems like a distant memory and my new work/mom life is in full swing.
Here are a few ways in which I tried (and still try to) get some kind of balance and normalcy and hopefully it’ll be a little help if not just some comfort to any other new moms (and dads) going at life full steam ahead.
- Take it in your stride
Having a baby is emotionally and physically taxing on your person – especially leaving them behind with a nanny or at a daycare for the first time. This is completely normal. It doesn’t really ever go away but you do become more settled with it. So, take this new routine in your stride. I am lucky enough to work with a very family-orientated agency that has been super accommodating and understanding while I’m transitioning and it has been such a tremendous help.
- Separate your thoughts
I have found that putting on my mom-hat at home and trying to switch off from the responsibilities at work when I can has helped in creating balance. It is so easy to become overwhelmed by the to-do list at work, the to-do list at home and the not-ever-going-to-get-to-that-list all over the show. If you just compartmentalise your day and concentrate on what has to get done, not only are you more focused and engaged but you will add more value than stress to your life.
- Learn to say no
There is going to come a time when your personal diary is brimming over with appointments and family gatherings and play dates not to mention the drop-ins here and there. There is also going to come a time when your work calendar seems to just flow from one day to the next with no end in sight. Learning to say no is such a saving grace. Don’t feel bad to decline an invitation to visit or a party or dinner. Don’t feel bad for switching off your laptop at a decent hour only to turn it on again in the morning. Sure, there are going to be times when your home-life is going to overlap into your work-life and vice-versa but let that become the exception and not the rule.
- Don’t complain
Far too often parents are heard making excuses for why they are not able to do the things they were able to do before the arrival of their babies. The truth is that life has changed, for the better, but it has changed, one would be a fool to think that everything would just go back to normal after baby. There are things that you are going to be able to do and there are other things that you are just going to have to let go of. And then when you do, don’t complain. Putting emphasis on the fact that you are SO tired or that you can’t go for after-work drinks on a whim or work all night to get that piece of work just right, will only take away the little time you have to actually enjoy what you have and what you can do and where you are headed.
- Use your time wisely
I found that once I returned to work after having my son, that every single minute of the day has already been accounted for, even in the middle of the night. There are very few minutes in the day where I get to stare blankly into space or wonder what to do next. I have learnt to prioritise my life so that each important aspect has my undivided attention. My working day has become shorter, in that I have to start and finish work at very specific times so that I am available for baby when he needs me. This is not a bad thing at all because I am now able to put my head down and really get stuck into what needs to get done so that by the time I need to switch to mom-mode I can do so with ease. Planning and creating somewhat of a routine for myself has also helped at work, at home and definitely with the porridge brain.