A fellow adoptive Mama (and online friend) is going back to work soon. She is wondering what kind of advice us working moms have for her... Which made me think about my own life and how Lil M and I have adjusted after TWO YEARS of being home together! :D ::big.huge.grin::
First, I can hardly believe it's been two years already! And I mean that. It has gone by with lightning speed!! Of course, when we first got home, I wasn't sure how anything would go, and I certainly couldn't imagine two years down the road! LOL.
So, here's my advice for any new Mom going back to work...
1. Let the guilt go. Really. I'm the queen of feeling guilty over every little thing. Gotta let that go. If you want to work, or need to work, it is OK. Look at the positive, they will learn all kinds of neat things, make friends and know that you are Mommy regardless. You aren't going to do yourself or your son or daughter any good feeling guilty all the time. It will show. So, take a deep breath and shake it off.
2. For any new parent, but especially adoptive parents, take the first entire year (yes, I said year) to focus on your child and your/their attachment. Go home and hold them. Carry them around. Wear them in a sling. Cherish them. This will alleviate any guilt you have, too, because if you are making an effort to really cherish the time you have together you will be able to let yourself do other things. And, it is OK to do other things sometime! Work being one of them.
3. Take at least 15 minutes each day for yourself. I'd say an hour, but let's be realistic. Go grab that cup of coffee. Savor it. Go sit on the porch. Savor it. Go listen to the birds or run or walk or do whatever it is that it important for you to unwind. Prayer is always good. Just sit. Allow yourself that few minutes to unwind.
4. Don't worry about every little thing... cleanliness is next to Godliness for sure, but if something doesn't get done, don't sweat it. The laundry can wait until the weekend. It will not kill you to not vacuum every single day. There will be toys. There will be messes. Who cares? The first year you will be focusing on your child, remember? And what is more important really? They are. :)
5. Ok, so the truth be told, it is hard for most of us not to feel guilty going back to work. That probably doesn't even depend on your child's age. But if you're like me, you might go crazy at home all day by yourself!! But it will get easier. Especially, if you are in a good work environment. So, if you're not... try to find somewhere that you can feel good about yourself, your family and your job. That really is important. I didn't have that when I went back to work, and I'm SO glad I have that now. It just makes my life so much better. And a happy Mama is a good Mama. Remember that. :)
6. Some additional thoughts that help me: I try to make dinners ahead, plan meals, stock up on things that I know I will eventually need so I don't have to run out to get something when I am feeling stressed or tired from working all day. Freeze milk. Have that extra pack of diapers on hand, or have some cloth ones, too. I used both, that way if I was ever low on packaged ones I could use them as backup. I also just liked cloth, but that's me. :) Oh, and when you take them to daycare/school - drop and run! Don't dawdle. Tell them you love them and will be back!! Ksses and hugs and LEAVE. Otherwise, it just makes it too hard for both of you. IMO.
7. You NEED a support system. If you don't have one, be on the lookout for one. :) One of my dearest friends is someone I met after I went back to work. Other moms in similar situations are invaluable!!! So is your family and friends. Do not be afraid to ask for help. (if you're like me, that's very hard, but you need to do it sometimes!!)
8. Trust your instincts. When you become a parent, I think that you second guess yourself a lot more than before... it's new... especially when you go back to work. Should I be at work? Should I be at home? Will they love me less? Is their daycare/school OK? What about their day provider? If you don't trust your daycare provider, that's not good. Find someone you trust. If it doesn't feel right, or something feels off... trust your instincts. This goes for food and sleeping and holding and everything else. We don't get a book on how to do all this... it is OK to trust yourself.
9. Get enough sleep. Now, I know this seems impossible sometimes. But get sleep when you can. It is extremely important to get enough rest. The first year of daycare/school is going to be tough because they bring home lots of germs. We were sick on and off the whole first year!! It sucked. But it would have been even worse if I hadn't taken the time to get some rest.
10. Love your children. That's what it comes down to really. Isn't that always the case? Regardless of how you became a parent...when or why... you're a parent now. So, if you really focus on love, the rest will come. :) Trust me, time flies...