Part II: (S)He's Arrived!
In case you missed Part I of this Mother's Day mini-series, we've solicited tips and tricks from working mamas for pre-, during-, and post- new kiddo arrival. Like I mentioned in "Awaiting the Little One's Arrival," one of the great things about soliciting feedback from a variety of people is that you get a variety of responses. Simply: there's no one right way.
"All the need for stuff, structure, and routine is self-afflicted. I found that going with my babies' natural flow made my baby and me happy. It is truly beautiful if you can allow yourself to get lost in it. Everything else must matter less... I simply decided I would be a great mother first and let the chips fall where they may."
"Don't try to be super woman. Split the responsibility of everything with your husband or partner if you are both working. Also, outsource as much as you can afford (e.g. house cleaning, yard work, grocery delivery)."
"Make sure you keep in touch with colleagues while you are on leave; every so often get a brief on the company strategy, etc. We all know that the corporate world can move fast, and it can take a while to find your feet if you have become completely disconnected."
"I had both my kids before the advent of email... So, I was in constant touch with the office during both leaves, checking my voicemail multiple times daily and speaking with clients and colleagues regularly...[With my first daughter] I attended a client conference when she was 4 weeks old and was back to work full time after 8 weeks... [with my second] I started back part time when she was 3 weeks old and back full time when she was 3 months old... In both cases, I was determined to stay in touch throughout, probably out of paranoia that I would be forgotten if I didn't. I was actually promoted to Senior Vice President while on maternity leave."
"DO NOT WORK WHILE YOU ARE ON LEAVE... You are on leave, don't be tempted to attend meetings, answer emails, etc. Just don't do it. If your co-workers test the boundaries, just keep setting them again."
"No matter how you actually feel about starting work again, tell everyone it's great to be back and you are happy to see them - even if it's a bit of a white lie, it helps your spirits to say it over and over again."
"Go back to work with realistic expectations - you may not be able to pump (no pun intended!) in the extra hours you used to; you will need to learn to say no... But networking is key - ensure that people know you are still in the mix even if you are not in the office full time or working late. I know a lot of working mothers who have been promoted following maternity leave (I am one of them), and they have achieved this through being consistent, real, and not losing their confidence. It is natural for your confidence to slip... I had to fake it until I felt it."
"Take a few short weeks when you come back. I did that with both kiddos and it helped to ease into it."
"I held both my babies throughout the night... until they were each at least three months old. I never worried that I would roll over and crush them or that they'd never sleep in their own beds. I just knew that if I was going to be able to function at work the next day, I needed some sleep and not getting up and down to check on them all night certainly helped."
"Find a great dry shampoo. Washing your hair is no longer a priority."
"If you are pumping, bring as many extra sets of pump parts (or full kit if you can swing it) and leave them at your desk. At some point you will forget something. Try to drink at least one water bottle every time you pump. Make sure you know where you can do this too; there are laws [in the US] protecting your rights, so make sure you are firm if someone tells you to go to the bathroom."
"Hold your head high, and don't be sorry you are a mom - make it a professional advantage. You become more efficient, immune to work place politics and bureaucracy, and not afraid to speak up. Negotiations with most adult professionals are so much easier then negotiations with a toddler or trying to get an infant on a sleep schedule. Also, work place politics will not make you gag as much as a really bad diaper."
"I took 14 weeks with my first and 15 weeks with my second. It was still one of the hardest things I've ever done - leaving them for my first day back... Remember that the anticipation is always worse than the actual day... But children are amazingly adaptable."
Image courtesy of Cup of Jo