Mom to Brett & Darren
Length of maternity leave: 6 weeks unpaid + 6 weeks part-time work
What did you struggle with most about returning to work after having your kids?
When my first son was born (2012) I struggled returning to work. I knew I didn't want to go back. At the time I had a 1-hour commute, so I left the house at 7am, and got home at 6pm. Then he would go to bed at 7:30pm. I remembering being exhausted during the drive just praying I wouldn't fall asleep at the wheel. I also learned how to pump in the car while driving to save time. I felt so unprepared for what returning to work would be like.
With my second (2015) I was at a different job. I was closer to home, and felt more prepared and less anxious about daycare, sick days, and pumping. I also advocated for myself more than I had the first time around. Yes, my son breastfeed and I was unapologetic about taking time to pump. There was less embarrassment as well. If you don't like it, then move on!
What do you find difficult about being a working parent?
Navigating the schedules. My schedule, my kids schedules, the house schedule, birthday parties, my husband's schedule, making dinner, etc. It's a never ending cycle of thinking about everything at one time, and praying you didn't miss anything. Then letting go of the guilt when you forgot the show and tell item, or the special snack at school, because frankly it's impossible to do it all. I have to let so much go and be okay with chicken nuggets for dinner and smoothie for me, or frozen pizza again.
What do you enjoy about being a working parent?
I love working! It gives me joy and fulfillment. I'm an entrepreneur now so I get to create my own schedule, and build the business I want. When I graduated college I knew I wanted my work to always fulfill me, so I searched constantly for work that gave me purpose. I'm grateful so many of previous jobs have done that for me. I was not meant to be a full-time stay at home mom. It was just not something I ever truly desired. I actually felt a lot of guilt around that at first. Then when I accepted it, and saw other moms also felt the same way it gave me a sense of relief and comfort.
After being back at work for some time, have your views about career and family changed?
After having kids, finding joy in my work was more than what I was doing in the day-to-day tasks. I craved flexibility and had trouble finding that so I went out on my on. I believe we need more working moms out there! We are strong, and resourceful. Yet, when our kids our young they need us so much more, and finding a working environment that supports that is difficult and rare.
When more companies begin supporting working moms, especially moms with young children, we will see more working moms staying at work and more opportunities for women in leadership.
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?
Take a deep breath! Do your research. Stand up for yourself. You are not alone. Find your working mom tribe before having the baby. I didn't find my mom friends until after my first son was born, but had I had a mentor, or group of friends who had been through this to help with the transition it would have made things so much easier for me. I'm so grateful for your platform here for this reason!
What did you choose for childcare, and how has it been for your family?
Daycare. We love our childcare facility! Our boys still go back for summer care. The hardest part was the restrictions on sickness. The slightest fever and they couldn't go back until they were fever free for 24 hours. That's hard for a working mom to take extra days off, or look for back-up childcare. We didn't have family who could help us out on those days either, so we were on our own to figure out as a family who was taking what day off to be home .
Anything else you want to share?
Every working moms situation is different. Find out what you want as a working mom. My values were picking my kids up at 3pm after school. I'm also okay that my pre-schooler is in school 5 days a week. It's good for him, but I wanted to be there at pick up, and not have to put them in after care. It's okay to ask for help at work, or ask for flexibility, or whatever it is you want. Be your own advocate!