Returning to work as a mother/parent
I had a lovely chat at an event this evening and the conversation turned to motherhood and when is the “right time”. My response as a working Mum of two is that there never is the right time.
That chance conversation inspired me to jot down a few things I wish I had known when I first returned to work after my eldest was born. So here goes.
First bit of “advice” is don’t listen to advice! EVERYONE has an opinion on what to do, what’s the best solution and everyone loves to share all the “trouble and trauma” that can go with juggling parenthood with work and career. Know that you will work out the right solution for you. It may take time and be bumpy along the way but it will work out. Also there are some great aspects to working and family life it’s just most conversations about work and family don’t focus on this. You may ask what these are. For me personally it is the balance both worlds brings, the space
Learn to be flexible. The hardest thing is to expect things to be as they were before entering the world of family and work. You have so many new and different experiences to manage and learn from so be patient with yourself and take every day as it comes in the first few weeks.
Be kind to yourself. No-one has to be super Mum or Dad. Often people are their own worst critics and are the ones putting most pressure on themselves. Remembering to look after yourself and to give yourself permission to learn this new chapter, step by step, will make things easier to manage.
Communicate really well with your Partner on respective roles and responsibilities before you return to work. Be honest and open about what you both need and expect from each other to make family and work life be manageable. And be prepared to totally change this once reality is understood!
Know that you will multitask like never before but that you can somehow keep the balls in the air, it will just feel really tough at times and that you can’t. But you can and you will.
There are times you will think the whole set up is rubbish and then other times you will love it. This is often heavily influenced by how much sleep you had the night before and how many times you had to say “put your shoes on!” not to mention if the “work” day went smoothly.
Guilt doesn’t help anyone. Guilt often seems to be part of the package of working and family but trust me it doesn’t serve any purpose. Know that you will be doing your best and that in itself is great.
You are not alone. At times it can feel like everyone else has it sorted and you are the only one dealing with whatever you are dealing with. There is that lovely saying “be kind to strangers you meet as everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about”
But I don’t want to end on a “battle” note. Sure juggling work and parent-hood can be tough, especially when it is all new. But for what it is worth from someone who has worked through the crazy early days and managed to finally find the right way for my family to b, I love being a working parent.