From 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday, Jamie is a Recruiting Coordinator at ETS. And 24/7/365, she’s a mom. A new mom who, like 70% of mothers with children under 18, according to the US Department of Labor, contributes to the workforce.
Returning to work this past December with her baby younger than one year old, Jamie experienced conflicted emotions. In fact, two-thirds of working moms say they feel separation anxiety, experiencing guilt while away from their children at work.
She’s balancing her personal and professional responsibilities, and you can too. Keep reading to hear her perspective!
Going back to work with a newborn at home is one of the largest life changes I have faced. Although I wasn’t new to motherhood, I was new to the struggles of a changing identity and balancing the demands of motherhood with the challenges of a successful career.
With my first born, I had put my career on hold. Being a single mom, he was my focus — and rather than pursue the things I knew would move me up the professional ladder, I opted to take positions that would maximize my time with my son. Flash forward 14 years (and multiple entry-level jobs) later, and there I was in a career I was proud of, step-mother to a 4-year-old, with a baby on the way and an overwhelming fear of the delicate work/life balance that was to come.
Two months after I gave birth, it was time to return to work. The thought of waking up at 4:45am, rushing to get my oldest off to school an hour away, then racing off to my job after being up all night with a crying baby seemed impossible. And then there was the guilt: How can I spend so much time away from my baby?
One of the toughest moments as a mom was going back to work after the baby was born. In that first year, not only are you still in recovery — emotionally, physically, intellectually, and every other way imaginable — but you’re operating with major sleep deprivation, huge shifts in household dynamics, and very real concerns about everything from your baby’s care to your work re-entry.
But like moms have before me and moms will after me, I did it — and so can you!
A few things that helped me get back into the swing of things were:
Having a supportive work environment.
This has been absolutely incredible. It’s a huge relief being able to come into work knowing my co-workers have my back when it comes to teamwork and scheduling flexibility.
Utilizing Paid Family Leave (PFL).
When I came back to work, I had no intention of using Paid Family Leave, but things happen and having PFL has been key. For those of you who don’t know, New York’s Paid Family Leave Program provides job protected, paid leave to bond with a new child, care for a loved one with a serious health condition, or to help relieve family pressures when someone is called to active military service. More on PFL here.
Learning to be patient with myself.
Adjusting to this new life takes time and you can’t expect to nail it right out of the gate. I’ve learned to give myself the flexibility to make mistakes in order to discover what’s best for both myself and my family.
Reminding myself that I’m supporting my family and doing what’s best for them.
This helps with the guilt you will likely encounter. When I’m able to realize this, it feels rewarding knowing I’m helping provide my family with the quality of life they deserve.
Writing EVERYTHING down.
I don’t know about you, but in my experience “baby brain” is a real thing — making lists has saved me, both at home and at work. This helps me stay on top of my schedule, which helps me stay on top of my families schedule, making sure everything — and everyone — is where they need to be when they need to be there.
Our kiddos won’t stay little for long, but our careers won’t take a time out either. Moms are some of the hardest working people I know, and as I continue to find the balance between work and motherhood, it’s their stories I look to for motivation and inspiration. I hope to pass on a little encouragement to my fellow new moms out there: you are not alone and things will get easier!
Lastly… before I snooze off for the third time while writing this, I want to wish all of the working moms out there a Happy Mother’s Day!