Mom to Gabe
Manufacturing Engineer & Environmental Representative
Length of maternity leave: 12-weeks
Childcare: In-home babysitting and In-home daycare
What did you struggle with most about returning to work after having your kids?
I struggled so much, especially during the first month, with my anxiety. I had spent 12 weeks, day in and day out, caring and thinking about someone else, I fought to keep my mind off of Gabe. As soon as the clock hit 4pm I would race out of the door and speed home. I definitely had separation anxiety, and at that time I had never left him with anyone other than my husband. It was a relief to have my mother-in-law watching him at the time though, she absolutely adores him, and she would send me pictures and updates every hour or so. I honestly think that experience would've been much worse if it wasn't for her.
What do you find difficult about being a working parent?
The separation of work and home life, which seems so cliche, but it is one of the most challenging things so far. I recently received a promotion that loads more onto my plate, and sometimes I find it hard to keep my mind from trailing into work-mode at home. I try my hardest to concentrate on what's right in front of me. I'll catch myself scrolling through emails on my phone, or thinking of when the next audit schedules are supposed to come out, and then his little face will pop up behind my screen. It's a quick snap back to reality for me, and I try to remind myself to put the phone down and play with him because these years go FAST.
What do you enjoy about being a working parent?
My initial reaction was "nothing" because I feel like I miss so much in the hours I'm away at work, but it's nice not always being momma. When I was on maternity leave it was constant care for someone else, and I found it hard taking time for myself (especially trying to breastfeed). I felt that because I wasn't working I still needed to contribute to the household by cleaning, cooking, etc. So, I was always just in mom mode, and I felt like I was losing myself to the same old schedule. Working gives me my individuality, and though work may be stressful at times, it gave me the realization that I needed to step back for self care. Little things like putting on makeup in the morning, or doing my hair, these were things I lost, and I'm so grateful for those little things because they are what gives me my sense of self again.
After being back at work for some time, have your views about career and family changed?
Most definitely. I get assigned 2-3 big projects a year that usually involve overtime for a couple of weeks. Before, I had no problem working from 7am-5:30/6pm because the project just had to get done. Now that Gabe is with a babysitter though, I not only have other people's schedules to worry about, but I have my time with him I am sacrificing. I cannot stress the importance of my time with him enough, and I am very thankful for a family oriented company that will allow me to make small tweaks to my schedule as necessary.
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?
Motherhood will make you a better engineer. It will make you stronger, more resilient, and capable of multitasking on a whole new level.
What did you choose for childcare, and how has it been for your family?
In-home babysitting and in-home daycare
The in-home babysitting situation was one of the greatest things I could've asked for when returning from maternity leave. My mother-in-law would send me pictures and updates throughout the day and would text me if she had any issues. I knew that he was well cared for and received attention, love, and plenty of play time. I would say the only cons would just be not having interaction with little ones his age, but for that to be the "worst thing" I would say we were blessed for that to be the only thing.
Gabe is currently in an in-home daycare, which was a recommendation from a friend at church. During the day it is just him and the babysitter's 1 and 3 year old. He can interact with other kids, and it's so great to see how much they love him. He's always happy when he arrives in the morning and is just as happy when I pick him up. He gets the opportunity to read, sing, and dance with other kids throughout the day which makes the whole situation even better.
I think there have only been 2 things we have struggled with in this childcare situation. The first being having to commute a bit more in the mornings. The babysitters home is about 20 minutes out of the way for my husband and I, but we were more than willing the bite the bullet on that because she has been so fantastic. The second issue is being exposed to more illnesses. Gabe had actually never been sick, fever and all, until about a month after we had put him in childcare. Which, really, both of these issues are not absolute deal breakers for us.
Anything else to share?
I'm so grateful I found this page. I recently found it because my friend Kara had shared her story, and it's such a relief to find working mom's having the same struggles. This page gives so much empowerment to the working mom.