Mom to John
Length of Maternity Leave: 10-weeks
Childcare: In-home Daycare
What did you struggle with most about returning to work after having your kids?
I started a new job when I returned from maternity leave. I struggled a lot with coming back to work in a brand new job setting. I didn't know anyone at the job, and I had a lot more responsibility than at my last job to learn. The lack of sleep, missing my child, trying to learn new responsibilities at my new job when I was beyond exhausted, and not having anyone to really confide in was so hard for me. The first few months I felt like I was drowning both at home and at my new job, but I kept saying to myself, get through the first year, and it will all be better. Now, I've surpassed my first year at my new job, and as a working mom, and I was right, I feel so much more at ease now that I've been at my job a year. I love our daycare provider, and I love my new job, now that I'm up to speed on my new responsibilities :-)
What do you find difficult about being a working parent?
I think it's challenging finding anytime for myself/downtime/quality time with my husband. I workout at lunch some which is "me time", but I'm usually concerned I'm taking too long of a lunch break. My husband and I tend to stay up too late watching our favorite shows, relaxing and vegging out after we finally finished all of our chores. I wish there was a better option then staying up late to find some time to spend with him and myself but we do love that time together.
What do you enjoy about being a working parent?
I think I'm a much better parent. I'm sure this is a common statement, but I really think it's true. When I get home from work, I absolutely cherish my little boy, running up to the door, so excited mommy is there to pick him up. Then we go home, and I work hard to keep my cellphone out of sight/out of mind. I work to be present with him, doesn't he deserve this after a day spent away from mommy and daddy? I think so :-)
After being back at work for some time, have your views about career and family changed?
I grew up with a stay at home mom, so I thought being a working mom was somehow bad or wrong or not good for my child. At the beginning, I just felt guilt and worried about my son. It felt like someone was ripping my child from my arms. I almost felt like he was miserable at daycare but I've learned he's not. He has so much fun playing with his friends, there are positives to everything in life, including my son being at daycare! We found a great, small in-home daycare and the 3 other kids there are like his brothers and sisters. He loves mom and dad but he also loves his time at daycare. As far as my career, I've realized, everything fits in. At times at the beginning, I worried a lot about where does it all fit in? But it just does. I leave work at 5 pm everyday and if I have to work after John goes to bed that's fine, but my priority at 5 pm is my baby :-)
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 going to be okay - it gets easier? People understand? I'm not sure that would have worked though. At the time, it just feels so hard, so exhausting, so challenging, at times I thought I might not make it. I was SO overwhelmed with more responsibility and learning the role of my new job while being exhausted. It took me asking multiple questions at times to my employer simply because I was exhausted and couldn't retain everything but they seemed to understand. Then my son got a lot of ear infections and ended up needing tubes, I was concerned about him and concerned about my job because I was out a lot - but again, they seemed to understand. I wish I could tell my past self not to worry or stress, it will all get done, work will understand, baby will be fine at daycare and everyone will adjust to the new schedule but I just think its the motions we as working moms have to go through to come out the other side stronger, and united as a family. My husband was also a huge help! I'm lucky to have a super supportive husband - I would remind my past self to lean on him - he does understand!
What did you choose for childcare, and how has it been for your family?
Previously we used a daycare center, now he's at an in-home daycare
We switched to a small in-home daycare when my son was about 8 or 9 months old from a larger daycare center. Now he only has 3 other kids there, and one provider who loves the 4 kiddos. They are like brothers and sisters and play together all day - there are less germs, and one daycare provider who knows my son as well as we do. At the beginning the transition was tough - from the large daycare to the in-home - the large daycare had had me very involved, had a report card about what time my son ate, what time he went outside, what time he poop'ed etc. The little in-home was way more loosey goosey. She lets my son decide when he naps (there's no designated nap time) and they go outside to the park sometimes when the weathers great, and they sometimes turn on cartoons. It's not like the center which was extremely structured. The in-home provider told me she treats her home as if my son were home with me not like a rigid center. Now, I can see tons of positives, but at the beginning I worried a LOT. I was concerned she was the only adult there and that there was no one else "watching". Tons of crazy thoughts went through my worried mom thoughts and my son missed the center he had been in which didn't help things, he was in a very attached to mom stage and was afraid of the new in-home daycare. It turned out, after two tearful weeks (mainly by mom), my son loves his new in-home daycare. He loves the provider and every morning reaches out to her - the only people he willingly leaves mom for is dad and her. It is significantly less expensive - I live in DC where daycare is outrageous, thanks to this in-home daycare we will be able to afford a second child. The provider genuinely loves my son - it isn't just a job to her. She makes all his food from scratch! And, there are far less germs with only 4 kids total there :-) There are tons of benefits. At times, I miss the structured-ness of the center, but there are many benefits to the in-home daycare and to be honest, I will always find something I don't love because it's not me at home all day with him.
This is so great! I wish I'd known about this website when I went back to work a little over a year ago! I was so lost in my new job and lonely and depressed. The transition was hard - I would have good days and bad days but the bad days were pretty rough. It was all I could do to tell myself it will get better and thankfully - it has!! I think your mission is absolutely imperative to moms going back to work, ultimately, it is terrifying leaving your child in the care of someone else for 8 - 9 hours a day. Thankfully, there are many of us who understand the struggle!