Going Back to Work: For Creative and Work-at-Home Mamas
Getting back to the "normal" is hard when you have a new normal. How can you easily transition back to your professional life after adding "mother" to the long list of beautiful and bold things about you? Jennifer Mayer, owner of Baby Caravan is sharing with us some tips to go back to work as a working mom. Today, she's speaking to creatives and mamas who work from home. Next week, she'll talk to those going back to a more traditional office.
Jennifer is the mother of two year old Oliver and has been a practicing doula for over 12 years. In 2013 she founded Baby Caravan, a group doula practice and online community focused on education and compassionate support, that guides women on the life-changing journey of motherhood. Follow her and the Caravan to answer all your questions on pregnancy, birth, new motherhood and the return to work at www.babycaravan.com, @babycaravan on IG and here on FB.
Working from home is amazing and allows for flexibility that working at an office doesn’t… but it comes with it’s own set of challenges. Specifically, where does work end and being at home begin? If you’re like many people who work from home, the distinction between work and being at home can be a blurry line. Yet, with a newborn at home, that flexibility can be just what us mamas need.
At Baby Caravan, we have experience helping new mothers transition back to work after maternity leave through 1:1 and group coaching supporting moms as they transition back to work after maternity leave. For mamas working from home, this transition is going to look differently than mothers who work outside of the home. Here are 5 key areas we like to focus on:
Schedule: By working from home you can start and stop pretty much as your day ebbs and flows. One thing we’ve found helpful for our new moms is to make a loose schedule. If your baby is home with you, this can be structured around their feeding and napping schedule. If your baby goes to day care, then you’ll want to structure your schedule around your pick up and drop offs. Also you’ll want to determine how many nights a week you’re okay signing back online after your baby’s bed time, and how many nights a week are sacred time with your partner or catching up on sleep.
Feeding and pumping: For breastfeeding mothers, feeding and pumping depends on if your baby is home with you during the day, or if they are at daycare. For moms who have their baby home with them, you can feed on demand if you’d like, or stick to a feeding schedule- whichever style you’re drawn toward. Also you shouldn’t need to pump outside of securing your emergency stash if you’re home during the day. For meetings when you’re out and away from your baby, stick a hand pump in your purse for easy pumping on the go. For moms who’s baby isn’t home during the day, then you’ll need to make a pumping schedule.
Childcare: Working from home gives you some childcare flexibility, depending on your work demands. For some moms, it will work out well to have their baby home with them - but I’ve got to say, for any mom working from home, hiring a baby sitter, even part time is a must. It’s pretty impossible to both work and take care of your baby without sacrificing one or the other. Having determined childcare hours will give you the scheduling security for important meetings and phone calls that need to be distraction and baby free.
Isolation: Working from home can be isolating enough - add new motherhood to it, and you can feel more alone than ever. One challenge I noticed as a work from home mom, was that my friends and peers didn’t view me as a working mom, they saw me as a stay-at-home mom. I found so challenging because there’s no way you can be both. It was hard to always decline play dates and lunch dates because I had to “work”. I found scheduling a friend or mama meet up once a week allowed me to be social, but not in an overwhelming way. During new parenthood, social circles tend to shrink as you adjust to your new lifestyle- it’s important to remember it won’t always be this way, and your little one won’t always need you so acutely as they do now.
Another way to combat isolation is to sign up for a co-working space. There’s a new company is NYC called Co-Hatchery, they offer a co-working space with onsite childcare. How cool is that? If you have regular childcare, you may want to look into a co-working space in your neighborhood to shake up your day, get out of the house, and focus your energy and productivity.
Create a Uniform: One thing that is certain about working from home- it’s super comfortable because you can work in leggings and sweatpants- and no one needs to know! But going from PJs to sweatpants day after day gets old, not to mention boring. I highly recommend creating an easy, go to “uniform” that you can dress into each morning without much thought. The “without much thought” part is so key for us sleep deprived parents! Trust me - if your “work” uniform is as easy to put on as your yoga pants- you’ll do it and you’ll feel better for it. If you’re breastfeeding or pumping, having a uniform that’s easy to feed in is even better. (That’s one reason why we love Mitera!)
Working from home is strategically very savvy for new moms- babies require a lot of care an attention. Having the option to take a nap in the afternoon can be so restorative. Even just completing your work on your own timetable of the day can take away some pressure and stress. Work from home moms, we salute you!