Mom to Poppy
Length of maternity leave: 6 months
Childcare: Grandparents & Daycare
What did you struggle with most about returning to work after having your kids?
At first, it was easier than I had anticipated. I went back on a Thursday so I could ease into it, and within a few weeks, I had gotten used to it. But once winter hit, Poppy went to daycare, and we all got sick, it was honestly the hardest period of my life so far. I felt like my bosses were judging me for being out of the office and I was losing my standing as a good employee, even though I was still getting my work done, and could have been even more available if they’d let me telework. I realized how much I needed a flexible workplace that understood I could get my job done while also taking care of my baby.
What do you find difficult about being a working parent?
Not what I thought would be challenging. I am far more okay with her spending her days with others than I thought I would be. I know that she’s loved and learning in her daycare situation. But the uncertainty of our days, never knowing when she’ll be sick or when I’ll need a day to just catch up on cleaning/life, and the burden that seems to place on my job, is the biggest challenge I’ve faced. I wish it was more accepted that mothers may be in and out of the office but still able to complete their duties.
What do you enjoy about being a working parent?
I am happy to spend my days NOT changing diapers or being ruled by nap time (or lack thereof). I like when I feel like I’m using my brain for grownup, business things.
After being back at work for some time, have your views about career and family changed?
YES. As much as I love working and feeling useful, I had no idea how inconsequential my job would seem compared to motherhood. Then I realized that it might just mean I need to do something I’m more passionate about. It’s become imperative to me to work at something I’m really passionate about, and that allows me the flexibility I need to care for my family, which is my number one priority.
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 don’t think I can pick just one. It’s not as horrible as you anticipate it to be. But also, pay attention to how things feel. You are going back as a whole new person. Listen to what she needs. Don’t be hasty, but be real.
What did you choose for childcare, and how has it been for your family?
Poppy started out going to my parents’ every day, which was a great way to get used to someone else watching my baby for me, but also made our commute horrible. After a few months, we switched her to a Montessori daycare down the street from our house.
We’re so happy to have an easier commute and professional caregivers watching after Poppy now. But the $1300/mo bill and perpetual sickness (that’s just a given with 20 babies sharing a daycare) has really hurt our finances and our leave balances.
Anything else you'd like to share?
I think we need to revolutionize modern work to take better care of families. Technology makes it super easy for us to be productive in less time and from anywhere. I've been so inspired by this community to try to make things better for future mamas so I’m trying to make the case for telework and understanding family needs at my office job, but I’m also building a service to help creative mamas set your own business up to give you the flexibility you need. I think if more mamas are empowered to make things happen for ourselves, we can bring on that revolution for everybody.