After being home with my daughter on maternity leave for 4 ½ months, it was time for me to return to the working world. If you had asked me at 6 weeks whether I was ready to return to work, I would have (and did) say yes, but that was pretty much because of my struggle with breastfeeding, which you can read about here, here, and here. As the weeks went on, and I threw in the towel in regards to breastfeeding, I started to enjoy my time home with Natalie more and more. We developed a routine of some sort, and I was able to see my hubby almost every day when he worked from home. By the time my last week of maternity leave came, I was pretty upset at the thought of leaving Natalie. She had become this great little person that made me laugh every day and gave me endless smiles. However, she did spit up on me pretty much all day long. Even if I had a burp cloth on my shoulder, she would find the one spot that was uncovered and that is where it went. That area, more often than not, was right down my shirt…yum. Those were moments that I less than enjoyed, but really I didn’t mind all that much. I could always jump in the shower if I needed to and change my shirt. But I digress.
One of the things that I was advised when planning my return to the working force was to take it easy. Don’t jump in to the full 40 hours right away if you can swing it. Work part time to start off, or go in later in the week. I took this advice to heart and started work on a Thursday. What a big difference it was to only have to work 2 days before the weekend! Knowing that I only had to work 2 days before getting to spend the weekend with my daughter definitely gave me motivation to get through that first week. This was also extremely beneficial to my day care provider, who is my mother-in-law. Not only was I not used to working every day for 8 hours, but she had been on her own time for much much longer! Because I knew how tired I usually was after a day of taking care of Natalie, I knew that she would be worn out the first couple of days as well and would need the break. I was totally right, she was whipped!
There are a few other things that I did to prepare for my re-entrance into the workforce. These all relate to ways to save time throughout the day. I wanted to be away from my baby as little as was humanly possible, so I wanted to make sure the time she was awake, I wasn’t too busy preparing stuff that I didn’t have time to spend with her.
One of the first things I did was figure out quicker ways to get ready in the morning. Before having Natalie, it would take me at least a good hour to get ready from start to finish and that didn’t even include breakfast! Simply not acceptable when you have a 4 ½ month old. One of the biggest time sucks in my morning routine is drying my hair. I used to wash, dry and flat iron my hair every single morning. I needed a way to shave off some those 20-30 minutes I spent on my hair. I took to the internet and looked up some easy to do hair styles for medium/long hair. You can see my first review here. There will be more to come. So now I have a routine of washing my hair one day and then styling in alternative ways on day two and three. This makes a momma who values her sleep extremely happy.
The other thing that I did was get in the habit of planning my outfits the night before. I can’t tell you how many times I have stood at my closet door and just stared, not knowing what the heck I was going to wear. But by just taking a look at the weather forecast the night before and thinking about my wardrobe, I am able to save time there as well.
The next thing that I researched was ways to cook dinner easier and faster. Now normally I love to cook, and I like using lots of different ingredients with many steps. This is not exactly ideal when I get home at around 5:15 pm and I want to spend time with Natalie until she goes to bed around 7 pm. I also don’t really like eating too late at night either. This is where the crock-pot comes in handy. I think this is pretty much every working woman’s go-to kitchen item for making a quality dinner with relative ease. The best part of using a crock-pot is that you can prep everything the night before (while your kid is asleep), stick it in the fridge, and then in the morning plug-in and go. When you get home you have a nice hot, tasty dish ready to serve! This way, after I’m done putting Natalie to bed, all I have to do is scoop and serve =). I do like Shaina’s ideas for freezer meals, and I will definitely have to invest some time in prepping some of those tasty dishes on Sundays for the week.
So how did my first few weeks go? Well, I fully expected to cry the first couple days back at work, especially since I was having anxiety the weeks prior to my return date. However, I made it through the whole day without a tear! I was quite surprised with how easy the transition was to being a working mom. It was almost as if I was made for it. The few changes that I made to my getting ready and dinner prep routine made a big difference in not feeling like a crazed maniac in the morning. The other thing that was a huge help was my awesome hubby. He supported me in everything and was there the first few weeks lending a helping hand getting Natalie ready and taking care of the dog. Now that I am in a pretty good routine I am actually able to handle getting Natalie ready as well and still make it into work an hour earlier than I did before I had Natalie! Even more amazing is that he was out on a business trip all week and I was able to get myself and Natalie ready, take the dog for a walk, and was only 5 minutes late to work. Pretty much a small miracle!
I think the biggest problem that I have is that I tend to not believe in myself. I always underestimate my capabilities. I never think that I can handle the task coming and get myself in a tizzy. I can’t express how thankful I am to have a hubby who believes in me and supports me. I could not have made this transition without him.