Mom to Olivier & Emma
Occupation: Product Growth Manager
Length of Mat Leave: 5.5 months
What was your experience returning to work after having your child (ren)? How has COVID impacted that?
COVID resulted in work from home when Oliver was 3 months old - we decided to take Emma out of her nanny share and keep her home a day before shelter in place restrictions came out. My husband was on leave as well then, we spent the last bit of our leave worried about what returning to work would mean without childcare.
We were debating if we should return earlier so we could take turns working half the week. Ultimately, we both went back when my husband's leave went out, a few weeks early for me, so that we could alternate days working in the week. I worked 3 days and he worked 4, so we only had to overlap 2 days a week, where one of us worked morning and the other afternoon.
This actually resulted in a nice return to work where I still got a lot of time with my kids and had really clear agreement with my manager on only focusing on a few top priority items. After a month, we decided we needed to hire a nanny and felt comfortable enough, and then we both went back to work full time.
What do you find most challenging about being a working parent?
In the immediate return to work - not sleeping through the night and fitting in nursing/pumping in the work day. Over time, just trying to fit everything in right after work - dinner on the table, everyone fed, some quality time, all before bedtime.
This is especially hard with WFH because there isn't a transition from the workday so my mind is still going on work things (and messages are still coming in from coworkers without kids), while I'm trying to actually enjoy the time with my kids.
What do you enjoy about being a working parent? If working from home, any silver linings?
I love being a working mom - I wish we talked about this more! All I heard before having kids was how challenging it is. Which, true, it has its challenges, but it is a bit like a liberal arts college - being challenged and getting satisfaction from very different elements on my life.
I love that I have truly different enjoyable parts of my life and I get to do both of them! With work from home, I do enjoy getting to see my kids more in the day. I'm still nursing Oliver (now 7.5 months) so it's pretty nice to get to hold my baby a few times a day (even if distracting and challenging from a schedule perspective sometimes!). We all have lunch together on most days. It is crazy that my baby is 7.5 months old and we've never been apart! I actually mostly like it, now that we have a nanny, although I miss meeting with coworkers in person.
Now that you're back at work, have your views about career and family changed?
When I went back to work with my daughter, I ended up changing jobs within 3 months - there were elements I didn't like about the culture and travel requirements I didn't want to do anymore, so it was time for something new. There was an element of if I'm going to be away from my daughter all day, I wanted to make sure I really enjoyed it.
Coming back with my second, I knew more of what to expect. I actually was really sad to go on leave with my second because work was going so well right before I went out. Now that I'm back, it's taken a little bit to find where to focus again, but I still really enjoy my job, which is great!
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?
It's funny - I would tell myself with baby #1 - "don't stress about pumping/nursing - she will be fine!" but I'm still struggling with that lesson with baby #2! I struggled a lot with supply, especially with my first, and stressed so much about ounces from pumping when back to work. I ended up putting her on a mix of pumped milk and formula within weeks of going back, and then quit pumping when I switched jobs a few months later (but still nursed at morning and night til 13.5 months, when I became pregnant!).
With my second, I had already planned to stop pumping when I returned to work... but the pandemic was unexpected here! Since it's nursing rather than pumping, I've stuck with it for Oliver, but I question at least once a week if I should stop! We'll see how long this lasts...
What did you choose for childcare, and how has it been for your family? Do you have any tips on working from home with a newborn?
If there is any way you can have childcare, do that! That really enabled us to focus on work. And, if your childcare has to be splitting with your spouse in some way, first of all make sure it's split, not falling all on you, and second really trust that they have the kids when it's your turn to work and focus. It will be fine if baby needs to play by themselves on a tummy time mat or in a bouncer for a bit while you do some things. And make sure you're taking some time for yourself - we did daily stroller walks to get a bit of a break and get outside.
Anything else you'd like to share on motherhood or how you're navigating COVID?
COVID parenting is intense! We had to cancel our first trip as a family of four to Monterey, but we had been torn about even scheduling it because did we really want to give up our toddler's childcare and have to take care of BOTH kids by OURSELVES for a full week??
Turned out life had other plans and we got to take care of both kids by ourselves for 2.5 months (1 month of that with us working!). And turns out, we did fine! Were there moments of frustration and wanting a break? Absolutely! But, we were able to do it and find our balance. It's also forced our two kids to play with each other more (Emma was not a fan of having a baby brother at first), which was been really nice to see them grow into!