When my daughter was first born, I never thought I could juggle life as a working mom. From bottles and breastfeeding and pumping to finding time to take a shower, all while going on just a few hours of broken sleep, I wondered how I would manage life doing this PLUS working.
Then 12 weeks later I went back to work and had to figure it out. Thus began the ever-so-elusive goal of work-life balance. Managing your own expectations and those of others, along with the need to take a break a few times a day with your new sidekick Medela for 20 minutes. Then coming home and being “on” from the moment you walk in the door until your head hits the pillow. Figuring out which parent responsibilities are urgent and which expectations you’ve set for yourself you can let go.
It’s a lot. It’s overwhelming. The first couple months I was back to work I was stressed. And exhausted. And then, just three short months into being a working mom, I found myself laid off with the new title stay-at-home mom.
I was thankful for the opportunity to be at home with my daughter during that time, but realistically, I needed a job to keep the roof over our family’s heads. For several months I went through the fun that is looking for jobs, applying, and interviewing. Then, as a result of an interview, a freelance opportunity came along. I jumped on it.
And that’s when I discovered why, in spite of the chaos and stress, I am a better person as a working mom.
I have peace.
When I was home with my daughter, I had peace in knowing I was doing what I needed to be doing at the time, and that I needed to enjoy every moment of our time together, but I also knew it was temporary. Then, for over a year I did freelance work from home. It seemed like the perfect fit. Flexibility. Working in my sweats. Working out (if I felt like it) in the middle of the day. But at the same time, even though on paper it seemed like the perfect opportunity, I knew that what I was doing was temporary. I didn’t have peace about it being a long-term scenario.
Let’s be honest, I had anxiety. I wanted something that was predictable. With structure and routine. It was an internal struggle within myself, because I knew I was doing the right thing, but I didn’t know where the path was leading me.
When my freelance job turned into a full-time position, my anxiety vanished overnight. And while it does come with stress, just like any other job, I have peace in where I am at and what I am doing. And I am so grateful for the path that has lead me here.
I have routine.
The thing that was the hardest about working from home (and even as a stay-at-home mom) was my lack of structure and routine. My schedule of work varied from one day to the next. It wasn’t always predictable. Being a Type-A planner, this kind of drove me crazy. I longed for predictability.
As crazy as the morning routine is now before school and work, and the evening routine is from the moment we walk in the door until we go to bed at night, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. My daughter is thriving at her daycare and loves her friends, giving them goodbye hugs when I pick her up each day. And I am enjoying my job and the opportunities it presents me to grow as a person and as a professional.
I have confidence.
Working from home has its perks, but it also has its drawbacks. While I enjoyed “me time,” I missed the office environment. The camaraderie. The encouragement and support. Reminders that I am good at what I do. I never realized just how much I missed the encouragement, feedback, and presence of other colleagues until I started working full-time again. I love to feel that I am contributing to a team. I enjoy using my skills and strengths, honing them, and being challenged to continually grow. Working full-time has restored confidence in myself to succeed, to do my job well, and to dedicate myself to learn even more.
I have goals.
While you don’t need a job to have goals, I do find myself wanting to set professional goals now that I am back to working full-time. I also have personal goals, which are more focused on my family, raising my daughter, and what I hope for out of life.
I feel that being back at work has allowed me the opportunity to ask myself what I am looking for and to set realistic goals that stretch me as a person and challenge me professionally, while also allowing me to spend my time focusing on goals that benefit my family.
At the end of the day, I am a stronger, more confident person as a working mom. I have peace in knowing that I am exactly where I need to be. In a job that allows me to not only be challenged and grow, but that also gives me the time and ability to be focused on my family. I know my strengths and my weaknesses both as a mom and as a working professional, and somehow, even though I may not be doing everything perfectly and may have days where things are just plain HARD, I know I am doing a pretty good job.
As a working mom, it is my hope that someday my daughter will see in me my passion, hard work, and dedication for what I do, and will in turn discover her own passions and find that determination within herself. No matter our circumstances as moms, whether working or staying at home, we have an example to set. It is important for us to pursue our passions and show our children the value of hard work. While some days may be easier and some may be more exhausting than others (whether we are working or not), our children will see the passion in us and motivation to succeed.