When we found out I was pregnant, I was ready to trade in my time badge for a life of domesticity. All of a sudden, when Clementine came into our world, my heart set itself on being a stay-at-home mom. She was so small and fragile. She was so needy. I wanted to be within earshot from her day of birth forward, keeping her safe at all costs. Plus, daycare is so expensive. It made more sense for me to stay home, right?
Except that's not how things worked out. We needed two incomes in order to take care of this sweet, new baby. So being a stay-at-home mom was not in the cards for me.
It took me a while to come to terms with my identity as a working mom. My husband would be the first to tell you that I have been anything but zen about working outside of the home while my babies are little. I have whined, fumed and even cried through work days. I have crunched numbers over and over again, only to come up with the same answer: I need to work.
Don't believe for a second that working outside the home diminishes your role as mom.
Maybe, like me, you wanted to quit punching a time clock once you started changing diapers? How does one cope when reality falls short of your expectations? My sour attitude about working motherhood didn't last forever. Would you believe me if I told you that I have grown to look forward to my work days just as much as I look forward to my days at home? Here are a few ways I coped with being a reluctant working mom.
1. Make friends with working moms
As a brand new mom, I was surrounded by stay-at-home moms. I was catching myself comparing my life with theirs. Adding a few working moms to my friend circle has been a healthy dose of encouragement for me. When I am having an off day, they can empathize with me and give me a much-needed pep talk.
2. Ask for help
The working mom life can feel like a hamster wheel. You work all day (or all night!) and then you come home and try to catch up on cooking and housework during your time off. Endless to-do lists were cutting into my precious one-on-one time with my kids. Letting my husband or my mom help out with some of my to-dos or letting our favorite pizza place cook dinner occasionally has freed up my time so I can focus on my babies as much as possible.
3. Guard your time
This has been the hardest but most vital part of enjoying my experience as a working mom. Sure, I want to say yes to every play date or night out I'm invited to, but that isn't a realistic or responsible use of my time. This doesn't just apply to my time away from work. I have learned the hard way what picking up extra hours or extra projects can do to our family life. As a general rule, I say no to anything above and beyond my normal job duties.
4. See the value of your work
The very same things that make me a great mom, make me a great employee. We are compassionate, patient, fantastic multitaskers and hard workers and we can do it all on little to no sleep. It may be easy to forget when you are missing your babes, but the world needs women in the work place.