Finding Happiness at Work Post Maternity Leave

From the time that I was pregnant with Livie, I was already anxiously anticipating my return to work. I could not imagine leaving her and I hadn’t even held her in my arms yet. Just the idea of someone other than me caring for her for most hours in the day was unfathomable to me and seemed so wrong.

For months, I agonized about my return to work and did my best to mentally prepare myself for what was inevitably going to occur at some point.

Well, the day came as I knew it would. Livie is in daycare full-time and I am back at work full-time. And to my surprise, it feels so good!

I know that so many new mom’s anticipate the return to work after maternity leave in a similar way as I did and it made me want to share my reasons for why getting back in the game wasn’t so bad in hopes that I can help appease another mommy’s anxieties. So here I go:

1. I get to use the washroom alone! Several times per day even. No more baby on my lap and pulling up my pants with one hand or dragging in the baby swing into the bathroom. Nope! No need to employ any creative method to secure baby while I use the toilet. I just GO! I had forgotten what that was like.

2. A lunch break. I get one! I get to eat a meal from start to finish with no interruption (most days at least). I actually get to eat my meal warm from start to finish. What a treat!

3. Getting dressed and ready for work. Let’s face it, when you look good, you feel good. For me, there is something to be said for putting some makeup on and dressing professionally. It’s a nice change from t-shirt and sweatpants.

4. For 8 hours per day, the only person’s schedule I need to worry about is my own. I don’t need to think about diaper changes, bottles, snacks, meal times or nap times. I’m in total control (again, most days at least).

5. Seeing other adults and having adult conversations. Oh, how I needed this! I like people and I like having intellectually stimulating conversations. While I enjoy every minute I spend interacting with my Livie, let’s just say that the depth of intellectual stimulation is just not the same and I think we mommy’s can agree that the goo-goo ga-gas can make us go a little coo-coo in the coconut some days. So this is a nice change. I feel like there is a nice balance now.

6. Reconnecting with the professional side of myself. After all, it was the role that took the most space in my life before Livie entered into it and was and still is a big part of my identity. It was nice to reconnect with that part of myself that I completely disconnected from over the past year.

7. Being able to focus on a task from start to finish. This feels like such a luxury! Being someone who is sort of obsessed with being productive, this feels great. Giving my full attention to a task from beginning to end without interruption seldom happens on the home front anymore. At work, I can focus on work that I enjoy for as long as I need to.

 

Before I had Livie, I remember having colleagues with children who would tell me that coming to work was a break for them. I have to admit, I didn’t get it. How could work possibly be a break? Work is so demanding! But I completely get it now.  It’s not a question of harder vs. easier or more vs. less. The work is just different. The demands of each job are equally demanding but simply different. Work is a break from the demands of parenting, and parenting is a break from the demands of work. It’s just about balance.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are definitely challenges to being a mom and working full-time. It is a huge adaptation for the entire family and requires a whole new level of planning and organizing for things to run smoothly all the well keeping our sanity (perhaps a topic for another blog post?). But for the most part, the return to work has been a positive experience and a nice change of pace. And there is no better way to end a hard day of work than coming home to Livie!

 

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