I had my son Jordan 5 months ago, it doesn’t even feel that long. Amazing how time flies huh? My original goal was to take 6 to 7 months of Maternity leave (In Canada parents are entitled to up to a year off) before returning to the workplace. I never aspired to be a stay at home mom, and full disclosure even if I wanted to it wasn’t an option for me financially. Disclaimer: I RESPECT & APPRECIATE stay at home moms – YOU ARE AMAZING!
I ended up spending 4 1/2 months home with my baby boy and I loved every minute of it. It was so exciting to see him grow and watch his personality evolve. I thoroughly enjoyed taking naps with him, and his amazing cuddles. He is my heart. The choice head back to the workplace early was not an easy one. I was offered the opportunity to make more money, better schedule, more flexibility, great work/life balance, and just a more enjoyable workplace. How do you turn THAT down? Especially when you don’t know if an opportunity like this will present itself later on when you’re ready.
I pondered for days as to whether or not this was the right choice for me and my family. It was discussed at length with my boyfriend. After all, we had a lot of things to consider…childcare? How much would it cost? Could we afford it? Would it work with our schedules? Was it feasible when all was said and done? After exploring all of our childcare options we were able to have an in-home nanny at a fraction of the cost of traditional infant care centers. This was a blessing that truly influenced my decision and allowed me to return to the workplace comfortably. (I will write a post outlining my struggle with obtaining childcare)
My first day at work I was admittedly so nervous and uneasy, and not because it was a new position and environment. It was that anxiety from being separated from my baby boy. My son is extremely low maintenance, but the thought of somebody else taking care of him unsettled me. Would she make sure he’s in his favourite position to take a nap? Will she hold him just right? Would she be able to make him laugh? Would he like her? Mind you, before leaving home I left a long list of all the do’s and don’ts, but it still weighed heavily on my mind. I had never been so excited and anxious to get home as I had been that day. Upon my arrival, there was that stark realization…my son had survived the day wonderfully without me (tears). In that moment I realized HE would be okay, and all the worries were really about ME.
I made the fact that I have an infant son and my need for work/life balance abundantly clear to my new employer. Yes, I’m willing to give my work my all BUT my family matters and I need time for that. Luckily, I work for a young, trendy tech startup so they are all about work/life balance and enjoying the workplace. I was even able to bring my baby into work one day (they keep asking me to bring him back). Which was really exciting for my son and coworkers, and reassured me that I had chosen the right company and made the right choice about my career over all.
What makes returning to the workplace after a baby even better for me is my co-worker. We work as a duo, and she is extremely understanding of the fact that I have a baby. If there are events in evening that one of us should attend, she will graciously opt to stay so I can go home to my son. She always considers my needs when hashing out things like schedule, and additional responsibilities. I respect her so much for that! And if and when the time comes for her to have a child, I would 100% offer her the same support.
Here’s the thing, if you are a driven, career focused mom. It’s okay to go back to work early. It’s okay to make your career and finances a priority in your life. You can have it all – career, family, and happiness.
My advice would be:
1. Explore your career options.
Can you freelance? Can you move into a role that offers more flexibility?
Is your employer, family/mommy friendly? What are employers are family/mommy friendly? Can you create that dynamic change at your current employer where they can shift towards being more family friendly
4. Know your rights
Legally what rights do you have as an employee in terms of your time off/overtime etc.
If you work on a team chat with your teammates about how your days can be structured so that you all can have a great work/life balance.
6. It’s okay to be a mommy!
It’s okay to check in on your baby! Call, text, do what you need to feel centered.
I hope my experience may help you in deciding about work. If you have any additional questions about my experience feel free to contact me and I’d love to chat further about it.
PS. I want to give a special shout out to the stay at home moms. That is a full-time job in and of itself, and you guys are absolutely amazing for committing to that.