Taking the Plunge from Stay at Home Mom to Working Mom

by Claire Minnaar

I have never been a stay at home Mom, but I did take some leave when my first son was born. I worked when I could, but the rest of the time was adjusting to this new person in my life and the lack of sleep which I found rather exhausting! I stayed home until Ethan was 5 months old and then I returned to work where I had him and his nanny (we worked from a house) so I could be close. Well, that was just really difficult and eventually, nanny and baby landed at home and I had to face every morning leaving him with the nanny so I could go work.

I know lots of Moms go through this. I had the “luxury” of being at home with my son until he was 5 months. Some Moms have to return to work at 3 / 4 months of even earlier….and, for many – this is really hard!

I’ve put this blog post together to try and help you make your life a tad bit easier when you make the transition back. Whether you are a new Mom returning to work or you are a Mom who has been at home for a while, you will most likely go through some form of thought pattern of whether you’re doing the right thing.

So, here are my tips on dealing with the fact that you have to leave your kids and go to work:

  1. Don’t feel guilty!
    • Many of you return to work for financial reasons – you are doing what you have to in order to survive and provide for your child. I think a lot of Moms forget that this is not something that should be overlooked and you shouldn’t feel guilty for trying to provide for your children.
    • Those of you who return to work because you are passionate about what you do – remember that you ARE ALLOWED to still be an individual who is allowed time for yourself. As much as your children are a MAJOR priority, you are allowed to still enjoy things you are passionate about.
  2. Always remember that your children will NOT stop loving you or love you less because you aren’t around. As they get older, you may be faced with more challenges where they act out because you aren’t around, but you deal with it.
  3. Make sure you have a caregiver (nanny, au pair or even faithful old Granny!) that you TRUST! I couldn’t imagine going to work every day and leaving my kids with someone I don’t trust. Having someone you are comfortable with look after your kids will make the transition a whole lot easier!
  4. Use some form of a diary and make sure to schedule time with your kids after work or before work. My special time with my boys is from 5pm onwards, but my most precious time with my oldest son now that he is a bit older is the hour before bed time where we cuddle in bed together and I read him a book and we talk about the day, sing rhymes or songs and he just tells me stuff in his head which totally makes me laugh! For my husband, his special time with our eldest is something completely different – their precious times are working together in the garden or washing the car. Make sure to make times for those special moments.
  5. Someone told me this in the last week, so I thought it was a good tip worth sharing. If your kids are of suitable age i.e. before the teenage years and you are around in the afternoon or early evening, take the time to bath your kids. This is a great time for bonding – splashing, toys and “trapped” in a room together is a great bonding experience and at the end of the day, your kids will remember these times.
  6. Speak to your boss about possibilities of working at home if this is an option. Some bosses won’t like this option and each will have their own reasons. But, it’s always worth a try, but if you choose to go this route and your boss says, OK – make sure you don’t get distracted at home otherwise it will be short-lived. If the boss says no, then make sure to understand where they are coming from (I know, it’s hard and it sucks). One tip about this if you want to propose this option to your boss, I suggest having the answers ready for some of the questions below so you are prepared from every angle. Going to your boss and not knowing how it’s going to be a possible solution ain’t gonna work, girlfriend – that I can guarantee! No “umming” and “aahing” permitted on this tip, I’m afraid (didn’t say it would be easy). Here are the questions to consider BEFORE approaching your boss:
    • How many hours / days you want to work from home?
    • How you will work from home efficiently – know what technologies you will be using to make sure you can do the work that you did at work e.g. Remote desktop, internet emails, VOIP phones, a camera so they can see you are working, etc.
    • How you will overcome situations where you need input from a colleague, etc.
    • Any other questions that could possibly be asked.
  7. Expect there to be bad days – some days will be harder than others for different reasons. Some days, you may have extreme mother’s guilt and other days, it won’t even cross your mind that it’s a big deal. Some days, your kids will make it really hard to leave the house and will plead with you not to leave – be prepared for these days as they will happen.
  8. Respect yourself and don’t doubt yourself – I often find myself doubting my mother skills and whether I’m a good Mom. My kids are normal (to me at least!) and they love me, want me and are happy and healthy – all I could ever ask for! You will have these days, so don’t worry about it – acknowledge you’ve had these thoughts and say to that little voice “thanks for sharing” and move on. And, then pat yourself on the back for me and tell yourself, you’re a GREAT MOM!
  9. Look after yourself – just because you aren’t home all day and must give your kids attention doesn’t mean you must neglect yourself. Make sure to take “time outs” for your whether it be during your lunch breaks at work or a Saturday morning (yes, get a baby sitter / granny / nanny) and take time out – some ideas could be a spa treatment, window shopping at the mall (buying stuff definitely an option too!), a walk with the hubby, a quick date with a friend at a coffee shop down the road, etc.
  10. Remember you aren’t alone and reach out to friends / family or other Moms. There are loads of other Moms in the same boat who will help you through a difficult time. Knowing other people doesn’t necessarily help you, but getting advice and support is important and can help. Email me even if you need someone to listen or give advice on how to handle stuff. Find yourself a good forum to chat to other Moms and reach out or have a get together on weekends or times when you aren’t working and share how you feel. One thing I have learnt about the Mommy community is that most love support, sharing how they feel and getting assistance. Regardless of where you get the support just make sure you get it!

Right, so I hope this helps you a bit or gets you thinking. If anything, I’ve highlighted that it won’t necessarily be a walk in the park, but it can be done with a little thought, planning and support!

If you have some additional tips, please leave in the comments below.

Image Credit: Metronews.ca

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