Mom to James
Length of Maternity Leave: 6 weeks
What did you struggle with most about returning to work after having your kids?
Returning to work was the most difficult thing I have ever done. I transferred to a new school so I was stressed about adjusting to a new work environment, on top of adjusting to motherhood. My new school was really great though and adjusted my schedule to accommodate pumping, and my principal checked in on me during the first few weeks back after the summer break. I still cried a lot the first month back at work, and I felt pretty isolated since I had to pump during my planning periods, which meant it took a while for me to get to know my new co-workers. I'm 8 months postpartum now, and it is not any easier to leave my baby, in fact, I think it's harder! However, I have had a very positive, and supportive experience this year as I've adjusted to being a new mommy, and a new teacher at my school.
What do you find difficult about being a working parent?
It is just so hard to take care of other people's children all day and not feel like I am neglecting my own. I also find that I really resent having to spend any extra time at work to tutor, grade, or attend meetings and trainings. It's hard to work around things like exams or meeting when I also need to pump. I end up being frequently stressed out about how/when/where I am going to pump when my schedule gets messed up. It can also be challenging to "turn off" my work brain at home because I still think about, worry about, and plan for my students when I should just be focused on my family.
What do you enjoy about being a working parent?
I enjoy working with my students. I like feeling like I am making a difference and helping them build the foundations for their futures. I also want to be able to show my son that women can have a career, and can have a family.
After being back at work for some time, have your views about career and family changed?
My views have changed so much! I used to go above and beyond for my students, and now I just don't have time to support them the way I used to, but I don't feel guilty about it. I am a mom first, and a teacher second. My baby will always come before my school "kids." I never understood how some teachers would run out of school as soon as they were allowed, but now I totally get it. I want to spend every extra minute I can with my son, and work can just wait until the next school day. I rarely grade or plan at home anymore, and just try to be really productive during the school day. I say "no" to anything that isn't mandatory, and I don't feel bad about it.
Knowing what you know now, what’s one thing you wish you could go back in time and tell yourself as you were preparing to return to work or getting ramped up in your role?
I wish I could tell myself not to stress so much about milk! I have wasted so many hours worrying about pumping enough milk even though I have a great freezer stash. And you know what, I just started using my freezer stash, and even some formula here and there, since I'm pumping less now, and it's totally fine! I felt like a failure around 6 months when I just wasn't producing enough to satisfy my son for bottles, but now I wonder why I cared so much. We have enough stress between our work jobs and our mommy jobs, that milk should NOT be added to our list of things to worry about!
What did you choose for childcare, and how has it been for your family?
-I trust the people who watch my son 100%
-Exposure to things like the park, zoo, museum, etc. that he wouldn't get in daycare
-Convenient for drop off/pick up
-My mom makes me feel bad/guilty when my son has a rough day and I'm not there to deal with it
-Getting "advice" or feedback that you don't really want
-No backup in case of an emergency