Mom to Sloan
Length of maternity leave: 8 weeks
What did you struggle with most about returning to work after having your kids? Returning to work was tough. I didn't feel ready to go back after only eight weeks of maternity leave. My son was still waking up between 5 and 7 AM at that point, and then sleep regression occurred relatively soon after I went back to work.
Focusing on work was incredibly challenging. My mind was on Sloan 99% of the time. I felt like I was leading two completely different worlds. My work world that mocked me for staring at pictures and talking about my son all day. And my home world where all I wanted to do was nurse and interact with my son.
Then pumping. Pumping was and is still so hard to fit into work. I'm an outpatient dietitian and some days were so jam packed with patients, I barely had time to pump and would worry I was going to leak through my shirt.
I started really struggling, constantly worrying about my job. Was I doing a good enough job at work? Was my job at risk because all of sudden my focus was different? I changed my hours and worried it appeared that I no longer cared about my work because I wanted leave no later than 4:30 PM.
I hated that I only got a few wake hours with my son after work. Going back to work after 8 weeks of leave was HARD.
What do you find difficult about being a working parent? The most challenging thing is attempting to balance everything. Balance is impossible and accepting that is also hard. I feel like my work week is a constant race to get to the weekend. And weekends are filled with snuggles and quality time with my baby, but also an endless to-do list to get chores done around the house that never get done during the week. It's also been incredibly difficult to find time to take care of myself.
As time has gone on, my attempt at self-care has improved. I make time to workout at least five days a week and that has been life changing for my mental and physical health.
What do you enjoy about being a working parent? I enjoy having something else to do that is mine. I worked hard in college to get to where I am today, and I like that I'm using my education. I like the challenges at work. I also love that I'm able to help people in my profession. I also love my son will grow up and learn that woman can work and contribute to the family just as much as a man can.
After being back at work for some time, have your views about career and family changed? 100% I've always thought family comes first and now that feeling has been emphasized. I think that flexibility at work is crucial for a successful and happy employee that's also a parent.
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 would tell myself that's okay to not go back to the top right away. I would tell myself to have a conversation with my boss immediately and let her know what I need in order to have a smooth transition.
I would tell myself to accept this season of life as it is. Soak up the time with my little one and know that one day in the fast-approaching future there will time for more self care, professional growth, and sleep, but for now accept that those things will not be the main focus.
What did you choose for childcare, and how has it been for your family? Daycare
Pros: It's only a few minutes from my home. They are FANTASTIC. My son gets socialization at an early age. They can't call in sick, so I never have to worry about being without childcare. Cons: Cost and the fact that it's not me
Anything else to share? I love being a mom. It's the hardest job I've ever had, but it's the most rewarding. Even with all of the challenges, I have no doubt in my mind that I want more children. My love for Sloan is unlike anything I've ever experienced. Being a working parent has given an ability to relate more to others, has improved my patience, and I'm much more empathetic.