little beats blog
Thank you to one of our Little Beats moms for sharing her experience transitioning back to the work force this winter after a year home with her baby girl. For anyone trying to figure out your work/life balance, here's some nice insight and perspective the reassure you that no matter what you do, you "have it all."
"Looking back I wish I could have reassured myself to just enjoy the moment and not worry about my professional future."
My baby girl, Jenna, turned1 on Valentine’s day. I was lucky enough to be able to to spend 11 months at home with her before returning to work. When I was pregnant, I wasn’t sure if I would return to my full time job, seek a part time opportunity in higher education, or be a full time stay at home mom. Working in higher education had always been my career goal and before having Jenna, I felt like I had finally found a great job at a great school that was all around a great fit. It was a big decision to leave my job after Jenna was born; what would happen to my professional self? Would I ever be able to get a job again? Would I have to start at the bottom and work up again? What would it feel like to not contribute financially to our family? What if I didn’t like being home with my baby? What if I loved being home with my baby and never wanted to return to work? There was so much unknown in the decision.
Once Jenna arrived and we had found our groove, I couldn’t imagine leaving her in the care of someone else. I was really enjoying being home with her, getting to know her, and seeing her grow and develop each day. Even better, many of my friends were welcoming babies and we were able to go through all of this together. When I left my full time job to stay home with Jenna, I set a loose timeline for myself to have a plan by the fall. As the summer came to an end I was still unsure what I wanted to do and knew how much I was enjoying my time at home. I began looking for part time job opportunities every so often. After a few months of this and not finding much that sounded “worth” leaving Jenna, I realized I had to make a decision. I had to either commit to being home long term, or get serious about the job search. I felt I had worked so hard going back to school, working in different positions and areas of higher ed, and gaining experience to do what I had always wanted to do that I couldn’t completely let go of my professional life at this point. It took daily searches, advice from friends and mentors, and lots of patience, but I finally found the right position as a part time internship coordinator and began working in January.
As I expected, returning to the workplace has been easy; being in the office, having specific daily tasks, communicating with colleagues - it all came back as if I had never left. Finding a groove in my new schedule has been much more difficult. Being confident in my decision of putting my daughter in childcare has been more difficult. Fitting everything in that needs to get done at home and still getting to bed at a reasonable hour has been more difficult. I know that with time and repetition, the groove in the schedule will come. I know that the fever and cold Jenna was sick with after her first week of daycare will help strengthen her immune system. I know that if the house isn’t picked up every night before I go to sleep, there is always tomorrow.
Even though I’ve only been back at work for a short time, I can already see it making me a better mom. I’m more focused when I’m with Jenna and so appreciative of our time together. Being back at work now that I’m a mom has also given me great perspective. I’m a mom first and an employee second. Priorities revolve around my family when previously family would adjust as needed to work. Looking back I wish I could have reassured myself to just enjoy the moment and not worry about my professional future. No matter what the outcome had been it would have all worked out. Returning to work after having a baby is a very individual decision. Some parents don’t have a choice one way or the other and those that do should consider their field of work and their personal priorities. Whether you’re at home full time, working full time, or doing both part time, I don’t think your situation defines your ability to “have it all.” Becoming a parent and creating a family allows you to have it all already.