Searching for Balance: The Plight of a Working Mom

0

It’s been 13 years since I became a working mom and yet I remember the pain of having to return from maternity leave like it was yesterday–and I worked from home. 

The truth is, no matter how career-oriented you are or aren’t, becoming a mom and then taking that time away from your newborn to return to work presents a range of emotions and new challenges. We want to have it all and we want to be great at it all. So we think we just need to find balance. I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but none of that is possible.

You can, however, have it all and find harmony in this season.

I’m part of several working moms’ groups and I think questions around this topic come up the most, so while I’m no expert, I thought I’d share some ideas that helped me through that challenging time. 

There is no right answer

The decision to return to work and what that looks like for each family is personal and no one else can tell you how to do it or if you’re doing it right. Yeah, I know that’s not helpful, but you need to hear it because plenty of people will want to offer their opinions.

What do you need and want?

As you approach the return to work, have discussions with your spouse or partner about what you need together and as a family, but also take time to reflect on what you want. You should start the conversation before the baby comes but it’s true that sometimes things change when you are holding that beautiful baby in your arms, so plan on having another discussion as your maternity leave comes to an end. 

For me, our family needs didn’t exactly align with what I wanted at the time. I wanted to stay home longer, but our family needed my full-time income. To find a workable solution that helped make the transition easier for me, I had to push myself and ask my employer for the ability to work four days a week from home. Thirteen years ago, that was a big ask but in today’s hybrid work environment, I think it’s something many employers would accommodate. 

If you decide to approach your employer for accommodations, keep in mind a couple of things:

  1. Good employers care about you and your happiness, but all employers care about their bottom line and how this will impact them. Go into conversations with a clear understanding of the benefit to your employer or how you’ll accommodate them to make sure things go smoothly. When I went to four days a week, I was stepping up to fill a role that my boss was vacating. I also had the support of my clients who didn’t have a lot of work for me on Fridays, anyway, and I explained how I would still make myself available, if necessary. They said no upon my initial request, but when I went back armed with more information, I got what I needed.
  2. Remember your worth! Working moms know how to get shiz done! Yes, you’re in a transition, but the value you bring as a leader with compassion, instincts and work ethic cannot be underestimated! Go into those conversations with confidence, knowing what you want and you’ll be surprised what you can negotiate! 

Habits

When I first became a mom, I lost myself. Outside forces seemed to set the schedules and routines and I became so focused on trying to be a good mom AND a good PR professional that I forgot to focus on really anything else. My marriage suffered, my friendships disappeared and my well-being went down the drain!

If you’re a new mom, you are already realizing the importance of a routine for your baby. The struggle is often that you feel very little control over those routines. Between work schedules, baby schedules or kid activity schedules as they get older, there is very little time that is yours alone. But if you want to find harmony, you’re going to need to create it!

Taking time for yourself is not selfish, it’s selfless! And I’m not talking about taking a shower. You have to create healthy habits if you want to show up as the best version of yourself for you, your marriage, your baby and your job! 

Start immediately. Start small. But start!

You might start with 15 minutes of exercise two or three times a week, or five minutes of quiet time in the morning. Set up a monthly date night with your husband and a girls’ night with your friends. Schedule things that light you up and inspire you. Work with your husband to create a healthy meal plan for dinners and divide up the responsibilities. The habits and routines will be different for each of us, but they are essential to finding harmony not just in this difficult transition but as you continue your journey as a working mom.

Boundaries

Once you have your habits, routines and work schedule in place, put boundaries around it all! When I returned to work, I let my teams know that I would be available from 9-5, Monday-Thursday and on my cell for emergencies on Fridays. They knew they could always reach me if they needed to, but setting that boundary set expectations around what was acceptable regularly. It also gave them permission to set similar boundaries.

Once I put exercise into my routine, I blocked that time on my calendar and treated it like any other appointment. My husband and I set the rule a long time ago, and cell phones don’t come to the table. All of these little boundaries add up to a healthy habit and a harmonized YOU!

Listen to your heart

Finally, no matter how well you plan and how great your habits are, there are going to be days that are harder than others. Listen to your heart and take a mental health day when you need it. Give yourself grace and know that it all gets easier with time. You are a good mom and I’m sure you’re good at what you do for work, too. You can do both, but you can’t do both literally at the same time. Be present with your family when it’s family time and present at work during work hours. Most days aren’t perfect, but if you have some habits, boundaries and routines in place you’ll win more than you’ll lose.

Know that you’re enough and shine your light! 

Check out my author bio below which includes links to connect with me for more tips on healthy habits for working moms.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.