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Meet Michelle

Mom to Sloane and Brooks

Occupation: Senior Producer, Target Creative

Employer: Target

Length of Mat Leave: 16 weeks

What was your experience like returning to work after having your children? How has COVID impacted that?

Returning after my first mat leave (pre-COVID) was hard for all the normal reasons. I was excited to use my brain in a different way and to help solve production problems (and drink coffee when it was warm), but I was heartbroken to leave my new baby. We had just figured each other out. I knew she was in great hands with our amazing nanny, and things went well. As someone else on this site said “it doesn’t get easier, but your heart gets stronger.”

Then one month after I was back, SURPRISE! I found out I was pregnant with our son. Suddenly the year took on a much more focused mindset for me. I was pregnant with a 6 month old at home, so I just concentrated on work and then being there for my daughter and trying to relax. Our son was born in January 2020 so by the time I returned to work after having him we were in full swing COVID and my company was full WFH.

I felt equally trapped and blessed. And then guilty for feeling trapped. Every day I remind myself what a true gift it is to have this extra time with my young babies. Some days it is easier to be reminded than others.

What do you find difficult about being a working parent?

I find the balance most challenging. I struggle to figure out what the balance is each day. I stress that I never measure up; that I’m not doing enough for my kids, for my husband or for my job. Oh and then there’s what I need. Ha! We have a nanny so that allows the babes to be here with me and I can see them anytime, but it is also a lot of people in my house at all times. 24/7.

What do you enjoy about being a working parent? Any silver linings it you're working from home?

Seeing my babies everyday is a joy. I get to go upstairs and my daughter Sloane gets so excited EVERY TIME and says “mama mama mama!” I get to put my son Brooks down for naps and see him when he wakes up. He looks at me so intently and smiles so genuinely, it melts my heart every time.

After being back at work for some time, have your views about career and family changed?

After having kids I definitely have more sympathy for working parents. That struggle to feel pulled in so many directions is so real. I hope that the mandated WFH helps my company to have more leniency with returning moms going forward.

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 to relax. Don’t worry so much about the baby getting up at night or bags under your eyes or unwashed hair. Embrace all the chaos and the late nights and early mornings. Each moment is a gift and one day there will be a “last time” that you have to get up at night, so embrace it now.

What did you choose for childcare, and how has it been for your family?

Nanny; We had a nanny so it was kind of the same as maternity leave, but I would say find a way to differentiate your day or separate yourself. Walk the dogs and listen to a podcast or take a work call. Even take a drive. Something to give yourself a break and some normalcy.

Anything else you'd like to share on motherhood or how you're doing navigating COVID?

I had postpartum anxiety after my second baby much more than with my first baby. To the point where scary thoughts entered my head. I sought professional help right away and recommend all moms do the same.

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