Every once in a while, this little blog gig of mine works it’s internet magic and I am personally spoiled and patted on the back and it’s glorious. Two weeks ago it was this. Then, as if the ball of awesome could not possibly stop rolling, I was invited to be a panelist for a local not-for-profit group called Life With A Baby. The opportunity was one I couldn’t have possibly turned down, even without being a bit of an attention-whore and seeing the grand occasion to promote what we do here.
So, on Tuesday, I was a co-panelist for an interactive workshop called Transitioning Back To Work After Maternity Leave. I sat beside a local published author and fellow working mom, Vanessa Shields, and we told our stories and shared our insight and helped calm down a few very anxious mommas. It was interesting to note that Vanessa and I hold almost completely different experiences when it comes to our return to work after kids- emotions, daycare choices, family support, financial factors…and yet I noticed I was nodding along and “mmm-hmming” a lot of her suggestions and a lot of her ideas. Where she guilted herself for not thinking about her kids for an hour after returning to work following her second child, I guilted myself for wanting to be at work. And as I looked around the room I noticed some identify with my thoughts, and some identify with Vanessa. It was incredible.
I would be hard-pressed to sum up the evening in one bullet-pointed list but I’m gonna try! It basically came down to these core actions:
- Trust Your Instincts: If your gut tells you that the nicest looking daycare you toured has some crummy staff members, keep looking. If you notice your child acting strangely or you hear them say things that catch you off guard, act on it. If you’re uncomfortable in any way, trust that either your head or your heart are looking out for the other’s failings and don’t try to rationalize your way out of it. Trust your gut.
- It May Not Always Work Out The First Time: We each had stories of struggling with childcare, with finding a balance between work and home life, with the hardships our return to work placed on our marriages, our self-esteem and even our clean dishes. That’s why they call them choices, so you can make so very many of them until you find the right one. Don’t be ashamed to mess something up- you’re trying. You may have never done this before, how are you supposed to know the right choice until you find it? That may take a few tries, and good for you for being so dedicated.
- Find Your Community: Whatever that may be. I confessed that mine was Twitter ::waves white flag of internet addiction:: One mom said she still hangs out with her original baby play group friends, still another said she relied pretty heavily on pre-baby friends. Surround yourself with people who will give you confidence and the answers you really need, and even the ones you like to hear. Share ideas, share your feelings like you’d share a new onesie if your friend’s baby had a poopsplosion. You get what you give, so work to build the kind of relationships that naturally benefit the kind of mother you want to be.
- Forgive Yourself: Don’t be so hard on yourself. You can’t know what that first week back to work will be like. You can even know that week 75 won’t pick you in the junk and make you question everything. Sure, be as prepared as you can be, but if that load of laundry has to be run through the dryer a third time to get the wrinkles out? So be it. If you give up on the dishes and go have sex because you can’t remember the last time you did? Don’t feel guilty about it. Those dirty plates won’t tell anyone. Hell, just use paper plates. Make it work and don’t compare yourself to anyone else. And when it just.doesn’t.work? Declare defeat and start over. It happens to the best of us.
We were invited back to a Version 2.0 in September ::self high-five!:: and I’m looking for suggestions from you- this little hearty Liberating Working Moms community. Tell me what advice you’d give, if it were you. What great advice or tips did you get when you went back to work that made all the difference? What did you wish someone had told you?
Thanks Angela, for inviting me. Thanks Vanessa for offering such an honest opinion. Thanks to the ladies who came & participated, I hope we gave you at least a little more confidence and a few ideas to make your transition easier. I hope this blog can give you even more ideas to help you out.
Lastly & quickly: I was always proud of being a working mom. After being a panelist, I’m more convinced than ever that I picked the right path for us. I’ve got a new layer of confidence here, and I’m loving it!