What I’ve Learned About Returning to Work
After having 4 babies in less than 5 years, I should know a thing or to about how to manage the transition back to work. I think that I do, but the truth is, it’s always hard. And, once you think you’ve got some semblance of a routine down, everything changes. That’s just how it is with infants and little kids. I’m headed back to work for the fourth time in about a week. Here’s my pep talk to myself.
Do NOT Wing It
If you are a control freak like me, don’t try to wing it. By that I mean, don’t wait until the day you go back to work to start keeping some semblance of a weekday schedule. When you’ve got older children who need to go to school, pre-school or day care, it’s impossible not to keep a schedule, at least for them. Now try keeping one for yourself. For me, this means, getting up, showering and getting dressed before breakfast.
I decided to start doing this a few weeks into my maternity leave. Thinking about how I would manage to get myself ready for work and out of the house once it was time to go back was giving me anxiety. So, I just started doing it. The next day. Turns out there was nothing to worry about and it’s nice to be ready for my day bright and early. Since I have already been doing this for weeks, the upcoming transition will be a little less daunting.
This Too Will Change
Although the constant change involved when you have small children can be frustrating at times, it can also be your best friend. I for one, am constantly telling myself, when I feel overwhelmed, that this too will change. Just when you feel like you cannot take another potty training disaster, coupled with failed sleep training and the boss that is SO glad you’re back that your desk is buckling under the weight of that joy…Everything changes. Your baby starts to sleep through the night. Your toddler seems to potty train herself overnight after a month long stand off. Your oldest child suddenly turns from instigator to helper.
Think about this. Your children are getting older and more self-sufficient each day. And while you already miss the tiniest baby version of each of them, growing up means less dependence on you for their physical needs. There’s something to look foward to.
Let It Go
There is so much talk out there, especially from women, about failing at home and failing at work. Being stretched too thin. To me, all this talk is silly. Chalk it up to low expectations, but I’ve always felt like I’m killing it at work and at home. My house isn’t clean. Nor is my desk at the office. But I’ve got real food on the table almost every night. And I feel good about my contribution during the work day. Am I doing a better job than other working moms? Hell no. I just don’t beat myself up as much. I try to get the important stuff right and let the rest slide. You should too.
Also, ask for help. The people in your life, be it at home or the office, have invested a lot in you. They want to help you when you need it. So you’re not perfect. Well, guess what? No one actually expects you to be. Except maybe you.