I called this post a letter from me to you, but to be completely honest I’m writing it mainly for me. As I write this my baby is 5 months old and I am easing back into work. I am making tough decisions, I’m starting to understand the “juggle” many parents speak of, and I feel like I’m moving into a new world.
Dear new mama, easing back into your business after having a baby…
The thing that I say to myself the most, and want to say to you too, is “be kind to yourself”.
There are so many things to beat yourself up about when you have a baby. Are you doing the right things? Are you selfish for wanting to work? Are you sacrificing your life by not wanting to work? Are your decisions going to negatively impact your baby? And, if we're being honest, we also worry about other people judging our decisions.
These are the questions that have been going round and round my mind lately (especially when I wake for the 3am night feeds)
But what we really need is to be kind to ourselves. Taking care of our babies means taking care of ourselves. (And it’s important to add that I am a massive work-in-progress when it comes to this)
It’s OK to…
- Want to earn more money
- Care about money less after having a baby
- Earn less money than you did before
- Be the breadwinner
- Be taken care of by your partner
- Be taken care of by maternity leave or welfare
- Take more time off than you had planned
- Go back to work sooner than you had planned
- Want to work
- Not want to work
- Want to be away from your baby sometimes
- Never want to be away from your baby sometimes
- Use childcare (in any form)
- Want to use childcare
- Not want to use childcare
- Worry about your decisions
- Not feel guilty at all about your decisions
Be OK with Your Decisions
Some of us have choices when it comes to work and childcare, some of us have fewer choices for financial reasons. But, whatever the situation, we need to own our decisions. We decide what is right for us and our family, and that doesn’t necessarily mirror what’s right for your friend’s family.
Our babies will be OK. We will love them and do the best for them both when we are with them, and when we aren’t. And at the end of the day, we are role models who will show them different ways of working and living.
What Work Looks Like for Me…
Although I am the breadwinner in my family – meaning I really have to work to support all of us – I do believe that working is best for me mentally, and I’d probably do it even if I didn’t have to. But I do not, for a second, judge anybody who feels differently to me, nor do I think that staying at home with a baby full time is easy – and I hope that you won’t judge me either.
Luckily, work for me is very flexible. I run my own business, and I do need a good chunk of time to do this successfully, but I can shift my hours whenever I need to, and am able to work part time (in fact, I think new part time hours will really help my productivity). I am lucky and privileged, I know this. If you’re not in the same situation, then you do whatever you have to do.
And remember, be kind to yourself.