I went back to work full-time 10 weeks after my daughter was born. This arrangement had been my plan all along, but that first day was still tougher than I ever imagined. Despite sobbing in the parking lot, I survived that first day, and the next, and the next. My daughter is almost two now and it’s taken me that long to get into a work-mommy groove.
Here are 10 lessons I learned the hard way:
1. Spit up happens. It just does. It took me a few days, but I quit freaking out and just changed clothes (mine and the baby’s) and moved on. Poo happens too.
2. If I need to wear nice clothes for a special work event, I get the baby and myself ready while still wearing my pajamas. Once she’s loaded in the car seat, then I quickly change into my good clothes.
3. Meal planning gets old, but it is the only way I know to guarantee I always drive home from work knowing what’s for dinner and what I need to do to get in on the table by 6:00.
4. The crock-pot is my friend. It’s amazing. Seriously, I put ingredients in it in the morning, turn it on, set the timer, and viola! Dinner is ready when I get home.
5. Tickle time takes priority over house cleaning time. I would much rather hear my girl laugh than have a spotless house. My light fixtures need dusting and there is always laundry that needs folded, but we get in our tickles.
6. Some mornings, everything takes twice as long as it should. I don’t know if it’s due to the full moon or my lack of planning, but occasionally my hair won’t cooperate, I’ll have to change clothes (see #1), the baby will have to be changed (again, see #1), she’ll take twice as long to eat, I’ll drop the mascara wand on my face and shirt and have to change again and wash my face, and I’ll realize after we’ve driven three miles down the road that I forgot the diapers. Yup, mornings like that happen.
7. I work with a great group of people, but as wonderful as I think my daughter is, I know they don’t want to hear about her all the time. Nope, they don’t care that she adorably stumbles her way through her ABCs or was up three times in the night and now I’m exhausted; they just care that I get my work done.
8. I now run after-work errands according to the child restraints involved. For example, running to the grocery store is fairly do-able because the baby can be put in the shopping cart seat. Going to the bank however is much, more difficult. The bank has no shopping carts and no way to contain a curious toddler. Bank trips now happen on my lunch break.
9. My supportive, encouraging husband is worth his weight in gold. He works hard every day. He comes home with a kiss and a hug for each of his girls. He eats what I put on his dinner plate, even when it looks questionable, and he is usually ready with a compliment. He never complains about the chores that have to be done and looks for ways to make things easier for me.
10. I like things done a certain way and I prefer order and routine to randomness and chaos, but that’s not always the way things happen. I’ve learned that being flexible and just rolling with the waves is the best way to not go crazy.