Kids,  Personal

7 Tips to Rock Being a Working Mom

I have been a full-time working mother for 4 years now. My daughter is spunky, gorgeous, bright, funny, and has turned out better than I could have imagined or asked for. I can’t take credit for that. Although I don’t claim to be an expert, nor extremely experienced, I did come up with my own list of how I’ve navigated these waters- in no particular order.

#1. Make It Worth It

My mother stayed home with us 7 children, and the memory of the few months that she decided to work was burned in my mind. I hated her being away, and never knew why she did it. It had never crossed my mind that my mother’s purpose was anything but caring for me. Perhaps I was old enough that I was accustomed to her being home with us, but I noticed the difference. Although her working afforded a birthday party at school that included a Happy Meal for my entire class, its celebration didn’t make up for how life at home felt less. We ate my father’s creative concoctions like peanut butter chicken (disgusting, in case you’re curious) instead of our favorite meals. We had to clean up that peanut butter chicken and all the dishes it ensnared instead of going straight to play. My homework was a beast I now had to wrestle alone, instead of with my brilliant and creative mother who always came up with wonderful project ideas. I had to keep all of my issues with school and friends and siblings on hold until she came home. We could do whatever we wanted while mother was gone, but that meant we had more fights and harsher punishments because someone else was in charge. When Mom decided to come back to staying home with us, I realized how she sacrificed to be home with my monster siblings and I. That noble role was all I wanted growing up.
Being at home with my children is still a great desire I have. In a strange turn of events, I’ve become a proponent of working out of the home if it’s worth it. I worked all through high school and college, and working through motherhood just seemed like a natural step. It became financially necessary for me to work because we decided that if my husband focused on finishing school without the time commitment of providing for our family, he could finish faster. If he finished faster, I could be home faster. There is a time and season for everything, and for us my working outside of the home would someday end and allow us to be together- and that made it worth it. Etching the purpose of your hard work on your heart and mind will carry you through the defeating moments.

#2. Pray, a lot

I had (and have) no idea what I’m doing and could use all the help I can get. I did cry, a lot- especially during her first year when I suffered from working-mom-guilt, was exhausted beyond what I thought was possible, and had no idea what to expect of motherhood. I am a firm believer and example of how God makes up for where we lack; we just have to ask. People will come into your life that you need when you need them. Opportunities will open up. Hurdles and hardship will become stepping stones. If you pray you’ll recognize all of these, and gratitude and happiness will blossom in your life.

#3. Get Awesome Childcare

Our daughter was born a month prematurely right before winter and RSV season, so we decided that daycare was not an option because she had to be handled delicately and was too likely to contract a life-threatening illness. I had no familial support in caring for my daughter since everyone was far away, and they knew nothing about handling premature babies. We were first-time parents who hadn’t a clue, and having an experienced and loving caretaker for our baby would be worth every cent we put into it. I never felt alone or without support, and most of my worries were melted away by our sweet nanny who cared for her during her infancy. I came home for all of my lunch breaks to pump milk and hold my daughter, but when I wasn’t able to be there I knew that she was doing what I would do and perhaps even better because she was amazing. When my daughter grew old enough to be in day care, we found a wonderful and affordable preschool where she fit right in. They worked with us through her stages of biting and always told me stories of the funny things she said or did that day. She knew all the teachers’ and kids’ names, and she loved them.

#4. Create Special Moments

Because I work, family time and one-on-one time is given high priority. I find that I do things I otherwise might not do. I have succumbed to many a random bubble bath or tea party because I feel that even though this is not a good time, it’s way better than never. We have our special things we do together- she is involved in deciding what she will wear and how her hair is done, and Mommy taking the time to do her hair or paint her nails is a big deal that occurs regularly. We have our special traditions together like getting pizza after swimming at the rec center- all year long. Lily sleeps in our bed- simply because our moments together are precious, she feels for us in the middle of the night to make sure we’re there, and we love to hold her between us and fall asleep together. We go on many outings together, and she helps me with chores and errands like any other family. I have been there for all of her milestones- her first tooth, her first step, her first word, her first friend, the first time she got in trouble, her first hospital stay, her first haircut. Make time for these moments, and you’ll never regret it.

#5. The Highest Priority

I still hand-make her Halloween costumes that she comes up with. I still read her bed-time stories every night and go to the library with her every month. I still stay up all night with her when she’s sick, and stay home with her the day after. We go on family dates to the movies or the zoo or hiking more often. She goes running with me. We watch Doc McStuffins together and she tells me all about her friends and what she’s learned at school. She holds my hand and gives me kisses and makes me laugh, and I tell you all of this so you know that we are extremely close, despite my working outside the home. She occupies every corner of my heart, from my cubicle at work to the “Lily Date Ideas” list in my phone to the last thought that comes before I fall asleep.

When we first found out we were pregnant and decided that we would both work, my husband told me that I could work as long as our children knew who their Mom was—that work could never be more important than our relationship as mother and child. I have a hard time not bringing home the stresses of work, and sometimes I would go straight to bed from exhaustion and tension. Time is precious and fleeting, and my child deserves my best self—not what’s left over. Try to pace yourself and remember to care for yourself so that you can be there for your child.

#6. Sleep On It

There are difficult days—days where I’m dropping her off and she clings to me and asks if I can take her to work with me, or if we can just go home together so she can hold me. Yes, she did actually say those things to me. But those days may be the same kind of days that others wish they could get out of the house and have a break from being a Mom. Some days I do think about quitting my job and being a full-time Mom and how fun that would be, but the grass is always greener on the other side and these matters can be full of emotion so I decided to never make a big decision without sleeping on it, and by the time I pick her up she’s so happy to see me and tell me about the fun she had with her friends and her teachers at school, and I think I can go another day.

#7. Keep a Connection

Stay connected with your kid. My little girl was having such a hard time being dropped off, and I was, too, after reading her teacher’s note about how Lily has been extra loving this week telling her friends and teachers she loves them. I’ve found that it helps our drop-off if I do something special for her every day. Last week she told me that her clothes were too tight, so I decided to get her some new underwear. Of course, I knew that she would love them even more if they had princesses on them, and I was right! She seems to think that I will leave her and not come back. I tried to assure her that I always come back and I love her always. Today I didn’t have time to do anything food-wise, so I ended up giving her my bracelet in the cafeteria and asking her to keep it safe for me because I will need to come back for her and for it. That cheered her right up and she seemed ready to be separated. As I left I saw her just holding onto it and stroking it so lovingly, and I felt the connection to her on my wrist where the bracelet was missing. I can’t wait to pick her up today!

Stay connected with people that will lift and inspire you. When I wanted to give up, I turned to my other working-mom friends or Moms who used to be working-moms and now stayed at home who had made it! They were a great shoulder to lean on, full of good advice, and ready with encouragement.

You can do it, rock on!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *