For several years, I’ve been working a 9-5 desk job. If I were to sum up the first 29 years of my life, it was being in school for many years, joining the workforce, then building my career.
This world drastically changed earlier this year when I gave birth to my son and started my maternity leave. I know I’m not the only one. Many women go from working full-time to staying at home full-time (at least for a certain period of time) to be with and take care of their new baby.
This post is not about how you can start a business at home so you can stay with your babies and not have to go back to your job. There are a ton of amazing blogs like that. Besides, I won’t really be in this stay-at-home-mom gig forever. My maternity leave allows for 18 months of break from my office job and time with my new baby — yes, we’re extremely lucky here in Canada where our options for maternity leave are 12 or 18 months!
Anyway, this post is more for mamas who are thinking what this transition looks like and how can one best manage or cope with it?
How might the transition look like?
For me personally, it was a rough start. Initially, I missed being at work. I missed the life that I used to have. Whenever I thought about the fact that my career is paused for the next 18 months, it didn’t sit well with me.
It felt disorienting because I stopped doing what I’ve known to do for a long time. And then all of a sudden I’m faced with the seemingly impossible task of taking care of a newborn. Everything was new. There was a lot to do but it seemed like there was no starting point. The change is so drastic that it’s easy to feel lost.
Then comes the guilty feeling — guilt for missing what life was previously when I should or I’m expected to feel happy with my baby.
How can one best manage and cope with the change?
Mothering is far different from any job you could think of. Transitioning is tough but I am now at a place where I can say I’m no longer transitioning. I feel like I’ve adjusted to the life of a stay-at-home. Here are some tips:
1) Surround yourself with and talk to adults.
Once you step into the world of mothering, it could easily feel isolating. It helps to share your thoughts and feelings with people who understand and would like to support you such as your partner and family members. Have grown up conversations about the news, places to visit, etc.
Talk to other moms such as your mom friends. If all your friends are single and have no kids, it helps to join mom groups so you could talk to adults who are most likely to relate to what you are going through.
2) Make lists.
I’m a fan of to-do lists as a student and as a working woman. It helps me keep organized and feel accomplished. Mothering is in and of itself a tough job so I figured why not have to-do lists for household chores and taking-care-of-baby tasks as well. It helps me remember the things I’ve to do because let’s face it, mom brain is real.
With motherhood, the days get so busy. But ironically it could easily feel like you don’t accomplish much on your day-to-day because you don’t have deadlines, projects, team meetings, or a boss who reminds you of your tasks. Lists help make me feel accomplished especially once I’m able to check off all or even some of my to-do’s.
3) Practice self-care.
Take a break and take care of yourself. When you’re a mom, this is easier said than done, I know. But it’s extremely important and if you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’d know that I’m a big advocate of mama self-care.
Remember that practicing self-care isn’t being selfish. In my opinion, it’s actually quite the opposite. When we care for ourselves, we get to take care of our babies much better than if we were not physically and mentally well.
4) Get back to or start a hobby.
What I realized being a first-time mom, it’s extremely important to have a hobby outside of mothering. While I enjoy being a mom a lot, the transition is disorienting as I mentioned above. It’s like as if you’re living a new life. This is why getting back to your hobbies pre-kid(s) or starting a new one is a great way to take your mind off things. It clears your head and lets you start afresh!
How was your “career woman to stay-at-home mom” transition? Do you have any proven tips in coping with it?