By: Ruthie Cody
I knew that I was going to continue to work outside the home after having children. We live in an area with a high cost of living, and in order for us to meet our financial goals each month, my income is necessary. I went into my first pregnancy with the mindset that my child would go to daycare. It was a decision that my husband and I made early, because we knew that we had level heads when we were making the decision. Having a child was uncharted territory, and we couldn’t save a big decision like that for after the baby was born.
After having my son, I had 3 months of maternity leave, half of which was paid. The United States isn’t known for its generous maternity leave policy, but I was able to take more than the bare minimum that some women get. I am grateful for that. When it came time for me to return to work, I cried. Dropping off my 3-month old baby at daycare felt like abandoning him. You are at the mercy of a near-stranger to take care of the human that just changed your life forever in the best way that you never knew was possible.
I know everyone’s experience with their children is different, but we all share common themes. Hopefully I can touch on some of those common themes below. Here are a few of the toughest challenges I have experienced as a working mother, and how I have managed them:
- The initial drop-off when you first return to work. My first morning back to work was hard. I do love my job, but leaving your baby with someone else for the first time is emotional. My husband came with us, and we both gave the baby lots of kisses and held him before we left. Walking back to our cars, I cried. Having my husband there helped me not run back inside for one more snuggle, and actually get to work on time.
- Driving to work, looking back, and seeing an empty car seat. I hadn’t been alone for the last 3 months of my life, and suddenly, my constant companion wasn’t there. It felt like a sad scene from a sad movie. Even now, over a year later, I still glance in the rearview mirror and see the empty car seat and my heart strings feel a slight tug, but I can promise that it gets easier with time, and the new routine becomes comforting in its own way.
- Getting out the door on time in the morning. I’ve never been the best person at waking up early. I have quickly learned becoming a mother doesn’t make it any easier. Not only do I have to dress myself, I have to dress a squirmy toddler who isn’t always in the mood to put his socks on and can’t make his own lunch. Do manage all the extra things that need to be done in the morning, I get as much done the night before as possible. For example, lunch usually involves some dinner leftovers, so I pack them into the right containers, bag them, and stick the whole thing in the fridge so I can grab and go the next morning. I also try to pick out our clothes the night before. (Keep an eye out for a longer post that details our morning routine for tips on how to shorten yours as well!)
- Finding the energy to play at the end of a long work day. Most days, I pick up my son from daycare and come home tired. I have found the easiest way to get past this is to stay outside and play before coming inside. For me, coming inside means it’s time to prepare dinner and do laundry and other chores. If I stay outside, the fresh air helps revitalize me for a short while so we can play together.
There are always more challenges to being a mom, whether you stay home or work outside the home. I know that as I continue along the journey of motherhood, I will find new challenges. But I will also find new solutions. No problem is too big for a mother who wants the best for her children!