The quest for work/life balance continues to inspire many articles, promote reflection for many companies, and sit firmly on the shoulders of many workers, however, all too often seems so close yet so far away. When you amplify all of these concerns with the addition of a new family member, resolution seems an even loftier goal. Returning to work after a new baby presents a moment of clashing feelings for even the most seasoned working mother. So, can there truly be balance?
Our very own super-mom/lawyer Christina and her husband were recently overjoyed to welcome their second son. After taking her twelve weeks of maternity leave, she joined the mixed-emotion superhighway and returned to her career as a lawyer. (Side note – we couldn’t be happier.)
It is nothing short of a full-time job – in and of itself – trying to achieve work/life balance. Having two children under two years old, two boys no less, seriously levels up this challenge. But as so many others in her situation would agree, she wouldn’t trade it for anything!
And so, we have compiled some tips from our very own inside source. There are strategies to managing the stress of work and the day-to-day duties of raising a toddler and a newborn. We hope that her feedback may help others as they return to work after a baby; and maybe, just maybe, there can be balance.
Take care of the baby AND yourself.
It truly is the little things, but so often we overlook our self-care – especially when that maternal instinct kicks in.
Make sleep a priority, for baby and for mom. It is not too far-fetched to say that I have taken nearly every online class and read every book about baby sleep. I have made it a major priority to get these babies to sleep through the night because I have experienced the other alternative. Returning to work after my first son was born, I was getting a combined total of four interrupted hours of sleep per night. It’s no surprise this would make it nearly impossible to do my job, and certainly very tough to do it well. I have been intentional in making sleep, and my well-being, high priorities this time around. Let’s face it, at the end of the day nothing is expected or consistent with a newborn. That said, more often than not, I am getting consolidated sleep at night, which has made the transition back to work much more manageable.
Accept and embrace offers of help.
When returning to work after a baby, put aside your pride, and accept all of the offers of help that you receive. These days, where you can opt for delivery of groceries and dinner and Amazon will take care of all of the day-to-day shopping…do it! The benefits from the help, and the interaction or distraction from those who care about you, cannot be measured. This time around, I embraced the offers from family and friends that offered to help with the dishes, the never-ending piles of laundry, and even the bedtime routine. So, don’t feel like you have to do everything on your own. Empower yourself to ask for help when you need it, and to say no when you need to. And don’t worry, you will still have the epic task of getting them bathed before bed to remove any possible guilt.
Set realistic expectations, and rely on perspective.
At first, as a new and working mom, I immediately understood the proverbial “mom guilt.” We all want to be there at all times with our babies, but I didn’t want to give up the career I have worked so hard to achieve. When returning to work after a new baby, how in the world is balance even possible? It’s no easy task to change our expectations to root them in reality, but I decided to adjust the self-imposed checklist of what it means to be a “good” mom. Now, when I’m done working, I’m done. I am intentional and present for my children and put the phone and email away. I can spend those precious moments before bed fully engaged and living in the moment with my children.
I have empowered myself to set clear expectations with family, friends, bosses, and colleagues about the changes to the way I did things pre-baby.
And guess what? The pay-off is that I can also be more present in my work as a result. You owe it to yourself to stop feeling like you are falling short on both ends of the spectrum when you are exhausting yourself to do so. Don’t be shy about asking for flexibility if it will help you to do your job better.
The fact is that life changes, so choose to embrace the ride. I may not be able to claim super-mom and super-lawyer simultaneously, but with these thoughts in mind, it certainly pushes me toward my best self possible.
Hopefully, these tips will help you as you navigate your journey toward work/life balance. As always, should you need any guidance regarding family challenges, please reach out to us at 407-403-5990 or email us at email@example.com.