Here’s the thing. Not everyone is in a position to be able to stay home after having a baby. I get that. And I’m not discounting anyone that does decide to stay home because I’ve done it and it’s HARD. In fact, it was harder than any job I’ve ever had. That said, if you DO decide to go back to work, even if you could stay home, it is ok. It is ALSO ok to proudly portray yourself as a ‘working mom’.
There are many reasons to go back to work. In my case, money was a big factor. I’ve had 3 babies and I would love to be home with my kids, but maintaining our lifestyle, our home, our vehicles, etc. was my reason to return. For all of you that do struggle the way I do, I’m here to say you’re not alone.
It’s ok to want to work.
When I get up in the mornings, I shower and start my day. That gets me going. When I stayed at home with my kids, I had to get up super early to shower or I would shower at night. When I showered at night, I never felt like I was ready to get going in the morning. I stayed in pajamas or my beloved leggings all day long. If I get up in the morning, do my hair, throw on a tiny bit of makeup, I’m ready to tackle the day. I like feeling accomplished. That’s not to say that you can’t feel accomplished while staying home with little ones. I just didn’t feel like I was doing enough for my kids. I like having responsibilities at work and being able to check things off of my to-do list(s). I was raised with 2 working parents and always felt like I needed to go to work. I want to be out of the house. I want to work in peace without having a child trying to bash the keys on my laptop.
You will have sad days.
There are days that you will be sad that you’re not with your kids. I am in a constant struggle with myself because while I want to work, I also want to be present for my kids and all of the things they are doing. I want to be able to volunteer at my daughter’s school. I want to be a chaperone for my son’s field trips. I want to see my youngest son do things ‘first.’ We have an amazing in-home provider that never told us when our kids took their first steps or said mama, etc., but I still remember the first day she sent me a picture with my daughter in a swing (for the first time). I missed it. I missed the squeals and giggles and that stung. I was happy that my daughter was getting outside time to play, but I wanted to be the first one to take her on a swing. I definitely cried that day and I remember it like it was yesterday.
There will be days where you can’t focus and you may feel guilty.
Let’s face it, the mom guilt is real. We feel guilty about a LOT of things. Missing out on things is a big one for me. I can’t take off for every field trip. I can’t always take off to volunteer. I even have to send my oldest to daycare every day before and after school and her school is right across the street from our house. I feel guilty that she has to be on a bus several times a day. Someone else (NOT me) has to get her ready and make sure she gets on and off of it every day. I feel guilty each morning my three year old says to me, “I don’t wanna go to school, I wanna stay home with mama” through tears and sobs. Especially because he had that for 10 months.
I feel guilty that I have to trust someone else to make sure my kids get their naps and healthy lunches and that by the time I pick them up at night, I go straight to the kitchen to start preparing dinner instead of spending time with them asking how their day was, snuggling, or playing with them. It hasn’t gotten easier and I don’t think it ever will. There will always be something that makes me feel guilty, and some days my work suffers because of it.
You are NOT alone.
You may think you are the only mom that wants to work. I’m here to tell you that you’re not. Sometimes we need to do things for ourselves, for our own mental health. Sometimes, that means working, and that is OK.
Staying at home isn’t always ‘easier’ or ‘better’.
I don’t know about you, but I have had some people tell me I’m a bad mom for not staying home with my kids and expecting someone else to raise them. I’m not a bad mom. Personally, working actually makes me a better mom. After my son got used to daycare, he started thriving. His speech got better. He fell in love with painting. He learned social skills that I couldn’t teach him when he was at home with me. My one year old gets to play with other kids his age. I never wonder if he’s ok because we have an excellent daycare provider that loves him like one of her own. I learned that my daughter loves riding the school bus and eventually, when she goes to middle school, she’ll end up having to ride a bus anyway. Staying at home may be ‘easier’ or ‘better’ for some people, but for us and our family, it wasn’t.
Yes, I still struggle some days– but on other days I feel more like myself than I have in years. It’s not easy to work fulltime and raise 3 small kids, but we are doing the best we can. Having a happy mama makes for happier kids. Do what’s best for YOU and YOUR family. Let’s stop judging one or the other because BOTH sides are hard. Being a parent is hard enough.
Whether you work or stay home with your kids, I support you mamas! You do you!
*Side note: I went back to work after my first was 10 weeks old. I cried for 2 days straight while at work because I missed her so much. I learned that I was not emotionally ready or prepared to be at work. At the time, I had no choice so I pushed through. After my second, I went back to work after 12 weeks off. I felt ok because I knew what to expect. I also politely asked that no one ask me about the baby for at least a week (otherwise I would have burst into tears). I went back to work after my youngest was 9 months old. It was hard, but because he was a difficult baby and I was not in a good mental place, the work distracted me and helped me get back to ME.
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