WORKING MAMA DIARIES - BACK TO WORK SURVIVAL GUIDE
Whew, guys, I made it through the first week! TGIF!
While I can't say whether it gets easier quite yet, I loved all of your feedback on my last post and my instagram and instastories telling me that it does. Thank you guys so much for cheering me on!
With that in mind, I wanted to share a little survival guide for coming back from maternity leave, mainly so you don't have to cry in front of your boss like I deeeeefinitely did this week... ah well. You live and you learn. So here's what got me through 5 full workdays with only that one little meltdown...
Plan some fun outfits
Getting "dressed up" is definitely in the top three things I was looking forward to about going back to work. It's so easy to get caught up in the scary parts, but dusting off my heels and pencil skirts and putting together cute professional looking outfits has been so fun! There are so many things I haven't worn in forever - first because I was too pregnant to fit in them, and then because, you know, I was living in my momiform of leggings or shorts and a tshirt - and I'd be lying if I said I didn't also shop for a few new pieces to add to the work wardrobe before coming back to the office. So go through your clothes, pick the ones you love seeing on yourself, and go kick some butt!
Plan coffee and lunch dates with your workfriends
My work friends (or should I say work family?) have been my support network this past week, and I couldn't be more grateful. I know some of you may be thinking, if I go for all those lunches and coffee dates I will never be able to do my work and get home to baby in time, and obviously there needs to be a balance here. All I am saying is, try and make time for the people who care about you and will ask to see baby pictures, listen to you vent and keep feigning interest in hearing about that time he made a funny face, how he loves broccoli and whether or not you think he'll roll over soon. It has made me feel infinitely better to know that I don't have to completely hide my mom-self while I'm at work!
Build in some extra time to treat yo'self
I know, I know, you are just here to do your job and get back home to baby. Buuuuut hear me out! If you, like me, spent every minute of every day with your precious bub during maternity leave, you know how difficult (read: impossible) it is to get a manicure or a massage. (I actually managed a pedicure with Magnus on my lap, but was too chicken to give the manicure a try for fear of smearing nail polish all over the place if I needed to pick him up). Chances are you may not be that busy yet during your first week back, so if you can make time, go treat yourself while baby is in good hands.
Connect with other moms (and dads) at work
I am still working on this one, but I'm sure I can learn a thing or two from other working parents who are kicking butt and taking names! One of my most treasured takeaways from maternity leave is my beloved mom tribe (hi ladies, you know who you are <3 ), and I'm excited to hopefully add some of my fellow master multitaskers at the firm to the circle. One thing I was positively surprised by were the reactions I got from the dads I work with. I was (and still am) a little nervous because I am the only mama with a young kid in my group, but instead of feeling like a road block in an industry that is still very male dominated at the management level, it has actually proved to be a great way to connect with the guys who have little kids - go figure! So, ladies, don't discount the dads at work! At the end of the day, we are all just trying to be good professionals and good parents at the same time, and while the struggle may not be exactly the same (ahem, did someone say pumping at work?!), it feels good to have them on your side.
Some quick practical tips on pumping at work
Now that we're on the subject of pumping, after we've all sighed our collective "ugh!", here are some practical tips that have helped me get into the groove fairly quickly.
This pump is my savior - it's small, it's chargeable, it's super portable, and the bottles are easy to read and accurate on the measurements (in ounces and milliliters - and as a European mama I love me some milliliters!). The only thing I will say is that it's pretty loud, so if you are uncomfortable with other people hearing you pump, or if you have to pump while you are on conference calls or the like, you might want to look for a more silent option.
We use this app to track how much Magnus is drinking from the bottle vs how much I am pumping, so we can see if we need to defrost some milk or add formula. It's super helpful - you can add all caregivers and it syncs up between our phones, so I can track everything in real time. It also helps me fight the separation anxiety because I can check from my phone what Magnus is up to :)
I searched long and hard for a good hands-free option that wouldn't require a full outfit change in order to pump at work. Here is the solution to all of your problems: all-in-one nursing & pumping bras. They work great and are super comfortable and you can basically do your thang (read: type emails, text your friends, review documents, catch up on facebook, you name it) while in cow-mode. Win!
Pumping at work sucks, and I'm certainly not speaking out against supplementing with formula or just straight up feeding formula, but if you want to give it a shot, these are my two cents.
Don't be too hard on yourself
Last but definitely not least, cut yourself some slack. This is a week one survival guide - you are just starting, you are figuring things out, and (I am told) it gets better after a while. I've been trying to allow myself to just feel all of these feelings and not beat myself up about any of it. The tears, the guilt, the guilt about not feeling enough guilt, the wanting to give up and stay at home instead, the stress (oh, the stress...). My boss actually gave me some great advice - he said, you might be feeling like a hot mess on the inside, but you would be surprised to know that most people can't actually tell at all. They'll just see you as a professional who has everything under control. Now, if that sounds a wee bit like "fake it till you make it" to you, you're picking up what I'm putting down... but that works for me, for now. Here's to hoping the "make it" part sets in eventually.
Until then, I'll be over here practicing my poker face and thanking my lucky stars for my amazing village, both at work and at home.