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This is my first blog post in about a year. It has been a crazy year, and as much as I love to write, I’ve had to prioritize other things before it. Short story of where I’ve been: we put our house on the market in June 2017, baby number 2 was born in July 2017, I decided to return to my full time job in October 2017, and we moved in December 2017. It has taken me until now to finally feel like I’ve had a few months to catch my breath.
So here I am. I’ve found some semblance of balance as a working mother, all the boxes are finally unpacked, and I’ve finally figured out how to load my groceries, a two year old and a one year old into the car at the same time. So, the fact that I’m sitting here writing this “I’m back” post is a literally “I’m back” as well as a symbolic “I’m back”.
My return to work brought many surprises with it. I’m now convinced that the after hour urgent care offices are specifically for working parents who can’t make it to the pediatrician’s office from 9-5, and I’ve reduced the time it takes to label 100 diapers with my child’s name to 4 minutes and 27 seconds (and these big fat markers are my favorite). Here are ten more surprising things I’ve learned after returning to work.
(Disclaimer: It felt like a lonely decision to return to work after being a stay at home mom. So I wrote this in hopes that someone else doesn’t feel quite so lonely.)
10 Surprises Transitioning from a SAHM to Working Mom
- I want to work. Overcoming the guilt of that sentence is the reason for this post. I had the opportunity to stay home with my children, to be there every day, to witness all the milestones- but I chose to go back to work. Do you know how much guilt I’ve felt over that decision? What I know about myself is that I’m a better mother working outside the home. To my surprise there are a lot of mothers who feel the same way.
- Weekends and time with my family is more intentional. I’m better able to segment my time and define what those time blocks are for. This was a nice and unexpected surprise after returning to work. I did a very poor job at this as a stay at home mom because I was “always at work”. Time with my children has always felt precious, but now that my time with them is limited during the day those hours between getting home from work and bedtime are so intentional…chaotic, but intentional 😉
- My house stays clean (for the most part). Surprise, surprise, when I’m not cooking three meals a day and wrangling toddlers my house miraculously is in the same condition when I get home as I left it. A major perk. One of the best home purchases I made was this inexpensive stick vacuum that I keep in the kitchen to quickly clean up the messes that do occur in the evenings.
- My children give me more confidence at work. Not even joking- when I’m in a stressful meeting, I think of the breakdown I handled at home that morning because my 2 year old wanted the pink cup instead of the purple one. If I can get that situation under control, I can handle anything.
- I’ve cried when I’ve had to leave work early to pick up a sick child. I cry because I’m still struggling with two identities- the pre-child career driven girl and the mother who loves her children more than anything.
- I’ve cried going to work. The transition to daycare was very tough on my oldest (at the time she was 18 months). Her whole life she had only known home, and suddenly I was dropping her off with strangers who made her sit in circles, eat at specific times, and spread their attention among a class of 12. But something else I’ve learned is it gets better.
- My children both love school. My two year old pretends she is at school, even when she is at home. She asks me to participate in “circle time”, she sings songs that she learned at school, she surprises me almost daily with something new she has learned. My one year old kicks her feet in excitement when she realizes we are in the school parking lot. It is surprisingly, a great feeling. Knowing they feel safe, happy, and look forward to going to school is everything I could ask for. I thought the biggest challenge in returning to work is the guilt of dropping them off at daycare- knowing in an alternate reality we could still be at home, in our pajamas, eating waffles and getting ready to go to the grocery store on a Tuesday morning, but to my surprise it was not.
- I miss Tuesday morning grocery trips.
- My lunch break is my golden hour- I take advantage of this time to meet up with old friends for lunch, to try new places with coworkers, to get myself a manicure, or eat at my desk and submit my grocery pick up list so my groceries are waiting for me after work.
- I have found my tribe at work. To the other working moms- you have given me so much confidence. I realized I’m not the only one who feels this way- who wants to work even when it’s an option. Your support and guidance have been so important to me. You showed me the lactation room on my first day back, we’ve laughed together in the breakroom sharing stories of our kiddos, you’ve shared words of encouragement that “it will get better” when I told you about my hysterical 18 month old transitioning to daycare, and stuck up for me when I leave work “early”. One of the hardest parts of returning to work was answering the question “why?” and you never asked that. You already knew that every working mom is there because she needs to work- whether it be for the fulfillment a career brings, to pay school tuition, or to buy groceries. Thank you.
Here are some products that have made daycare prep so much easier for my family:
Bottle Bag– We have used this bottle bag every day for the past year. It hold 4 bottles (we use Dr. Brown’s) and has a separate compartment at the top for purees and baby food jars.
Reusable Bottle Labels– So, I did not actually buy these, but I wish I had. We use scotch tape to label the bottles, which is a little annoying to peel off and start fresh every day. These bottle labels aren’t a necessity, but definitely a convenience. At this point, we are trying to tranistion to a sippy cup so we are just continuing with the scotch tape method.
Amazon Elements Baby Wipes– I subscribe and save to these and always have a box in the closet. When I get a note that the girl’s need more wipes, I can just grab a new pack to send. The quality is really good, the wipes are soft, and the flip top is very convenient. I also use these for the diaper bag.