It’s been over two months since I returned to work, but I can confidently say that the week leading up to my return to work was emotional, to say the least.
To be honest, I never thought I’d love being a mom as much as I do. Couple this with the fact that I love my job and the company I work for, and you can see why the anticipation would be an emotional rollercoaster.
So late one evening (or was it early morning?) as I nursed my son, I found myself tearing up just thinking about returning to work. I was excited, terrified, and anxious — a combination that isn’t easy to navigate. But I also knew that I wasn’t the only one who has felt like this and instead of swallowing my tears, I decided to ask for help, but in a very unique place: LinkedIn. I thought, “What better place to ask about returning to work than to a community of professionals who have been in my shoes before.”
Originally, I was hopeful for a few pieces of advice, but instead, the community went above and beyond. Over 900 people have chimed in, sharing their perspective about returning to work and parenting.
The comments were thoughtful, supportive, practical, and inspirational, and sparked a healthy conversation about maternity leave in the United States and throughout the world. Plug the comments into a word cloud and the themes of time and remembering to take care of yourself bubbled to the top.
And while opinions on all of these topics varied, one truth stood out above the rest. Regardless of your background, where you live, stay-at-home or working, mother or father: a parent is a parent is a parent. We’re all just people trying to do our best to raise our children — and it isn’t always easy. Seeing so many people come together and rally behind the realities with so much love and support is exactly what the world needs more. We’re all just doing the best we can, so we might as well be in it together.
And at the risk of sounding cheesy, reading the comments helped ease my nerves. I went into work that Monday morning and yes, I still cried leaving my baby behind. But the advice shared was so incredible and I went into the office knowing I wasn’t alone. It helped me and I wanted to share some of my favorites for new parents everywhere (or feel free to read them all here).
Thank you again for all of your support. Now go hug a parent.
Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize
“Be clear about your priorities and ask yourself what your non-negotiables are when it comes to your kids… Decide early on what you absolutely won’t miss, and then work your schedule accordingly.” – Shannon Brayton (see more of her great tips here)
Take One Day At A Time
“Be ok with not being ok. As Moms we want to make it work for everyone, but its all new and it’s ok to have to figure out who you are all over again! It’s easy to think we are going back to something we know, but when you feel different nothing is “what you know”. Be your best you and take it one day at a time. You will figure it out in a way that works for you. Treat yourself with care” – Lisa McGroarty Naylor
Remember It’s A Journey
“I would say that knowing ( and really believing) that through this journey, every emotion you are feeling is okay. Even if that is feeling differently each day. Questioning why you are back at work, feeling great that you are getting a bit of relief from a crying baby, feeling sad, happy, frustrated, not really knowing how you feel… it is all okay. It comes with this big job of being a Mom.” –Edina Bajraktarevic
Use Life Hacks
“1. Don’t expect to hit the ground running. It can take awhile to find your groove, and learn to compartmentalise, as a working parent.
2. Use life hacks. Amazon prime stuff, laundry services, cleaner, food delivery – don’t scrimp on sanity-saving where you can afford to.
3. Try to find a small thing you do by yourself, where you’re not a partner, mother, or employee.” – Heather Macdonald Tait
Good Enough Is Perfect
“Let your sanity be the only sacred cow that you leave in tact. You may have strong opinions on routines, on breastfeeding and pumping, nap schedules, etc. What you don’t know yet is how those things fit into your new, real world of going to work. Remember that good enough is perfect if it means you get the sleep you need to stay healthy and perform in body and in mind. Remember that your baby is only a baby for a very, very short time – make sure you guard your time to celebrate that. The daycare holiday parties and field trips will always conflict with meetings; make sure you reschedule those meetings/ conference calls well enough in advance to go and enjoy them. There is a finite window of time in your life when you can dress your baby up as a hotdog for the preschool parade. That parade, that hotdog ridiculousness, is part of why you work now. Yes, you work to better yourself, and help others in the world make their dreams come true, but you also work now so that you can show that baby you grew how to take care of a family. It’s the best/hardest/worst most ephemeral time of your life. Onward!” – Sarah Parrigin
Find Support At Work
“Try to find a mentor/buddy at work who can support your return to work. Ask HR to help you identify one. Better still, join an Employee Resource Group for new moms at work [if there is one].” – Pauline Leong
“Start on a Wednesday instead of a Monday. Parts of the transition will be tough. It makes the first week feel easier if you only need to make it three days before the weekend.” – B. Alicia Bajwa
Schedule 15 Minutes In The Morning Routine For Baby
“Simplify the morning rush. After having babies, mornings are usually the busiest time. Getting everyone up and dressed and out the door so you’re not late to work every single day can cause the most stress when you first go back to work. Simplify your morning by packing the car the night before; put lunches in a cooler in the car and make sure the diaper bag is fully stocked. Load up the car with an extra pair of baby clothes, diapers, socks, shoes, baby wipes and a changing pad. And schedule 15 minutes into your morning routine to spend time just with your baby and spouse. Whether it’s cuddling in bed just as everyone is waking up or 15 minutes on the sofa before heading out—this time will get you through the rest of your day with a smile.” — Supna Shah
Save Your Energy For What Matters
“Choose your battles. Save your energy for what matters rather than using it up on the small, inconsequential things. Dirty dishes or grabbing take-out so you can have more time and energy for your baby are not worth the guilt. And always make sure to make yourself a priority. Mama’s sanity is a requirement. 🙂 You got this!” – Krystal Parker
Be Ok With Asking for Help
“Ask for help OFTEN and be ok with asking for it. Raising children does take a village. Find your tribe and have them partake in your son’s life. Remember you are amazing and you’re perfect in his eyes so check that box and move on.” – Rachel Gore PMP SAFeAgilist
It’s Hard and Wonderful
“Every phase is hard, just in different ways. Every phase is wonderful, just in different ways.” –Michelle Chester