Happy Labor Day!
Whether you’re going back to work or already back at work, you’re going through an incredible feat and I just want to take the time out to say how much I appreciate you for your contributions.
If you’ve already gone back to work and you’re juggling your new lifestyle it’s hard, but I’m here to tell you what you may not believe, and that is, YOU WILL SURVIVE THIS CHANGE.
Statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor published in March of this year revealed that there are 74.6 million women in the labor force, roughly 47% of our labor force is made up by woman like you. In terms of mothers with children less than 18 years old, 70% are in the labor force. 40% of women are the sole income earners which is up 29% from 1960.
This is amazing! Look how far we’ve come ladies…
The part that I am still concerned about is the amount of support you receive. YOU WILL NEVER GET ENOUGH SUPPORT OR APPRECIATION FOR DOING WHAT YOU’RE DOING! If you’re lucky enough to have an incredible job and/or family that has rallied around you, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. If your "village" hasn’t been as supportive as you would like in your transition back to work, try to set boundaries at work not to be a "yes" person. You can't do and be everything for everyone all the time. Remember when you say "yes" to something or someone, mean "yes" and this will help create good boundaries and build the correct expectations from others whether for work or your personal life.
I got to thinking about all the things we go through as moms and it’s incredible. Some of us are dealing or have dealt with postpartum depression, sleep depriviation and dealing with expectations from others to still do and be the person you were prior to having your baby. There’s also changes in feeding schedules, finding a trusted daycare or nanny and the challenge of transitioning or supplementing your baby with a bottle before you return to work. The idea of leaving your baby is scary and you can even feel like you’re not being a good mom, but trust me, you are doing great! We all have had those feelings.
You’re also adjusting to maximizing your brain power at work while keeping those night feedings to keep up your milk supply. It's demanding and challenging and lots of woman are going through this difficult time.
I've seen friends and family struggle with the transition of returning to work. Here are some tips to help prepare you for this transition:
- Have a good caretaker lined up for your baby.
It’s hard enough leaving, as I mentioned earlier, so you should feel confident about the person or organization you’re leaving your little one with. I was fortunate enough to have my mom living nearby so I let grandma have my daughter while I worked. Referrals are gold. Ask friends and family if they like thier child's daycare, but even with glowing recommendations you should visit the daycare for yourself to see how they are interacting with the children. This will increase your confidence level. Leaving your little one with the right caretaker will help you not to stress as much and give you a little more peace-of-mind.
- Don’t wait until the night before to prepare for going back to work.
Start setting your alarm a couple weeks before as if you had to go to work. I went as far as getting my daughter fed and dressed as well as myself to practice how much time it was going to take me to get to work.
Just a heads up on this, nothing truly prepares you for the morning you’ve successfully gotten yourself ready and your baby wasn’t feeling well and got sick all over your clothes.. this is wear you need to take a deep breath and go with the flow. Call your work and give them a heads up that you'll be a little late. Making sure you are considerate to your work, usually helps them provide the flexibillity you need sometime.
- Figure feeding out as soon as possible.
This is one of the biggest stressors. If you’re going to keep breastfeeding, you’ll need to maintain your supply while working. This will mean pumping at work. Make sure your company has a proper place for you to pump at during the day. All places of employment should provide a place for you to pump in privacy. Just talk to your boss and get a plan together. Another mountain to climb is if you’re trying to wean off the boob or supplement feedings with a bottle while you are working. Sometimes it can feel near impossible. It’s a good proactive measure to go ahead and try to introduce your little one to a bottle 4-6 weeks before you go back to work. If you’re looking for a bottle to try, I hear mimijumi is a great bottle ;) it's used by so many moms transitioning back to work, some have named it "The LifeSaver".
- Remember this will all become normal soon.
It’s going to be a hard transition but it’s a transition that has been made by many mommy warriors that have come before you. Your baby will adjust to their new routine, just like you. According to health psychologist, Phillippa Lally, it can take 66 days before a new behavior becomes second nature. On the nights when work has been extra demanding, treat yourself. Enjoy your guilty pleasure, whatever that may be, and take 30 minutes to just unwind from the day. I know I indulged in the goodness of a glass of wine occasionally.
You’re going to make it. You will be encouraging your child to embrace the challenges of being a parent and to have a career or dream to go after, afterall these two things are not mutally exclusive. You can have both! Enjoy the challenges of parenthood, don't take it too seriously (now is the time to engage your sense of humor) and just keep fighting. You’re incredible.
If you’re in the percentage of working moms, today we celebrate you because change is difficult, no matter what. Thank you for your sacrifice and commitment. Thank you for making this country what it is, especailly while you shape our future leaders each and every day. Thank you.