Mom to Camrynn & Luke
Length of maternity leave: 12 months
Childcare: Daycare & Grandma
What did you struggle with most about returning to work after having your kids? I've been on maternity leave 2xs in the last 3 years. Each time, its been significantly challenging being able to 'turn off work' and focus in the 'present' with my kids when I am with them when not at work. I love working, I like what I do each day, and I am pretty good at it - which has for the most part been very easy! With children and being a mom, it not been an easy thing for me! I struggle with the guilt of enjoying being back to work - where I can receive immediate feedback or praise from what I have done correct or incorrectly, adjusting, and continuing to progress professionally. As a mom, you don't receive the immediate feedback and the days were very LONG while I was on leave for both. As I returned to work after both maternity leaves, I felt a weird and guilty feeling because I was recharged being back in the world where I was having deep, strategical, and thoughtful conversations and guilty because I enjoyed and was relieved to be back working. The guilt of knowing that I enjoy being at work and sometimes dread the end of the day because of the chaos that typically occurs every night has been a challenge where I often feel very guilty because I have two healthy, wonderful, kiddos that want to see their Mama at the end of the day
I will note that most of this prep work was self initiated, the pro and sometimes con of my office is there is so much personal work autonomy that help is given IF YOU ASK for it but a lot of the work transfer protocols and flow I used, I implemented myself so it took a tremendous amount of self discipline and ingenuity.
What do you find difficult about being a working parent? Balance is also very difficult - these days its so easy to have communication before and after work hours because you're able to have work email to your phone. Being able to shut it off has been very challenging since returning to work. With having two children, accepting that I cant be 100% with both being a mom and being a working mom has been hard to accept. Before kids, I felt I 'could do it all' and after having children the energy is much lower along with the patience. Work has always been easy for me - somewhat of an escape! And parenting has been a challenge; wanting to give both kids my all but struggling from turning off work where I get "immediate satisfaction/achievement"has been a challenging transition. I struggle with being a good mom and giving my children the same attention they need that I give to work - the guilt is real!
What do you enjoy about being a working parent? I enjoy that I am able to show my kiddos that you can do both - be a great mom but also be someone who can be challenged professionally. I also am happy that I am able to continue to stimulate my mind professionally and continue to grow and learn to balance!
After being back at work for some time, have your views about career and family changed? The views have VERY much changed - prior to having children I never understand the challenge that many colleagues/working parents faced! The lack of sleep, the constant worrying/planning, anxiety/guilt - everything that parents feel let alone working parents who have to compartmentalize everything and continue to do well professionally amazes me. I am very happy that I am able to continue growing professionally and feel it has been a huge benefit to my family!
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? If I could tell myself one thing... the job WILL survive without you if you need to take off to be with sick kiddos, toddle activities, appointments. I've learned there is a lot more planning involved - planning PTO accordingly, sacrificing vacation time, etc, in order to be at certain events like if the toddler is sick or you want to attend an event with them during the work week. Work WILL survive (it did when I was out on leave 2xs!), so the feeling of guilt for taking off or leaving work to be with your family is not needed. I'm thankful to work for a great company that has a work/life balance where I am able to take the time needed without sacrificing my role. There are a lot of sacrifices I am learning with working and balancing with my children; learning that family comes first and work will need to sacrifice is a continued challenge.
What did you choose for childcare, and how has it been for your family? Daycare 3xs week & Grandma 2xs per week
Three times a week my children go to an in-home daycare where they are able to be with 2 other children. The other 2 days a week my mother watches them at our home. There are pros with both - they get to interact with other kiddos and my mother also gets to spend time with them. I don't see many cons because the arrangement works wonderfully.
Anything else to share? I've been with my company 4 years and am super fortunate to have a position that is remote - I am able to work from home however as wonderful as it sounds, I am not able to work with my children home because of too much distraction. My job involves many conference calls throughout the day limiting me to watch them while I am working. The guilt of not being able to work with them and having to send them to daycare is big. I am able to work and receive fulfillment with being a working mom but also have to shut off immediately once I am done with work to be with the kiddos. The challenge has been NOT being able to turn off work because I am always able to do it being at home. It has been a struggle but I am very grateful to have my opportunity but also have experienced many challenges with both having kiddos and work colliding at home.