Going back to work
My maternity leave is ending soon, and I have such mixed feelings about going back to work. I had such a tough time with my oldest and have always had mom guilt because I have my kiddo in daycare. It is so hard to know exactly what to do and what is best for your child, but for my family, having me stay home would have been an enormous struggle, not only financially but also mentally. When I would get home from work, my time and focus were on my child. I cherished the time I could spend with him, and so it made every second for me much more meaningful. Yes, I wish I was one of those moms that could stay home and be there for their children every second of the day, but that was not me. I want to be a good mom, but I also want to have a career and show my children that hard work will pay off. I also grew up in a family that struggled financially, and I never wanted that for my children if I could help it. So, I work. I do not work (most weeks) longer than 40 hours because, as I said, my time with my children is valuable.
My husband and I have been very fortunate that both of us have maternity/paternity leave. Because we both have leave, I wanted to stretch out the time my baby was at home with me as much as possible. So, after talking with my husband and our employers, we decided to have me home full time with our newborn for 16 weeks. Once my full-time leave ended, my husband and I would both do part-time leave for four weeks to transition our baby from mom being home to dad. This is where we are right now with my leave. I am working part-time until February and then go back to work full time while my husband stays home with our youngest until April.
This is precisely what we did with my oldest son, and it worked well and made the transition slightly more manageable. However, it was still tough not to be with my baby all day. There were a lot of tears throughout the day and mom guilt. I felt like a terrible mother, but my husband would always tell me I was a good mom and that our son lit up when I came home. This helped a lot, plus he would frequently send me photos so that I knew how they were doing. I also had trouble because breastfeeding became much more challenging after returning to work, as I had to pump. My milk supply dropped, and my baby rarely liked nursing after becoming used to the bottle. This also made me feel horrible because I worked so hard to get my supply up to this point, and I loved my bonding time with my baby. After a while, I got used to it though, I cried less while I was gone, I gave in to the fact that we would move from supplementing with formula to formula exclusively, and I realized that my baby was going to be okay, even if I was not with him 24 hours a day.
My first baby was born pre-Covid. Post-Covid and with my second baby, things are looking slightly different. I work from home now most of the time unless I need to do something pressing elsewhere. This allows me to still be home while my husband is with him all day. This is both a blessing and the most challenging thing to do. I just started back to work on January 10th part-time, and so far, we are learning how to balance work-life at home with having my baby right there in the same area. Some of the pros are that I can still breastfeed when needed, which means my supply hopefully will not drop significantly. It also means I am not crying all the time because I must leave him. If I am needed, I am right in another room and can still say hi, and see his smile, etc. The cons are that I am in the same house and therefore feel like I am always needed and need to check on him constantly. It also means that I am much more distracted, and it takes me much longer to get my work done than it would have if I were in an office. But we are learning and adjusting to this new norm. We created an office space in our guest room for me so that I can go somewhere and shut the door when need be. Before my youngest came along, I used to work on our dining room table or at our office desk in the living room, which worked fine because I was the only one at home. Now, not so much.
Luckily, my oldest son can go to daycare still and play with his friends most of the time. He really enjoys this. I was so worried when we first put him in daycare because I thought he would have such a hard time and that he would miss me. Like I said before, I also felt guilty that I was not there for him. However, he thrived once he started and got to know his teachers and other kids. He learned how to do so many things and develop well that it made me feel so much better. He loves going to daycare and hardly wants to come home half the time, especially when they are outside playing. He loves his teachers as well, and so do we. This makes everything so much easier because I know he is well taken care of, and the people there are trustworthy.
Going back to work is challenging. However, finding the right people or place to watch your child is crucial. I know it’s challenging right now even to find a good daycare or any that do not have a waiting list, but if you are someone planning on going back to work after having a baby, the best advice I can give is to start to look while you are still pregnant. There are so many places that are booked up, and parents must be on waiting lists to even get in. This happened to us, and it was stressful. Luckily, we got this advice and planned for it.