I am a working mom to an almost 2 year old, and once I was past the exhaustion and sleep deprivation, and back to work, striking a successful balance between maternal and work concerns turned out to be one of the most difficult juggling acts I’ve faced in my life.
The emotional impact of leaving a young child at home is heart-wrenching, and the constant internal and external pressures of a career can make even quiet, personal time with my baby bittersweet. My problems seemed lame in front of those facing infertility issues, difficulty in feeding, post-partum depression or those whose kids suffer reflux, colic etc, but they were very real to me.
Personally, I think the decision to go back to work early isn’t any harder than deciding to stay at home. In fact, I discovered it was easier to go back to work within the first 6 months itself.
Here’s when I realised the importance of the magic R word – routine. Beginning a bedtime ritual, for instance, lowers your anxiety, because you know you’re working towards closure to the day. Predictable nap times give you a break, so you don’t have to be “on” all the time. But while routines can help parents feel in control, sometimes it’s hard to know when and how to institute them. It’s next to impossible to put a newborn on a nap schedule, and for the first few months, babies need to nurse on demand, so a mealtime routine won’t work. In time, I discovered the four routines that bring my baby a sense of security, and me a sense of peace. Establishing schedules can help a peaceful and effective routine for you and your baby.
It made my life easier to leave my baby with the help, knowing that she will generally be content with or without me due to a routine.
There’s nothing like working with the incentive of coming back to fun downtime with family. My guilt of prioritizing work over family was overcome by the strength my baby displayed all along. She is an absolutely loving, independent, no fuss baby. I also have the added benefit of having an “off” day when I need to. It’s the balance I love.
It’s true what people say, as time goes on and their personalities start to blossom, it does get “easier/better”. Of course every stage has its own challenges, but for me every day it feels less heavy.
Image source: Corbis