Working Mama: Tips for Making Working Work

Working full-time is hard. Period. End of statement. The end.

Well, not really the end. Because now, not only are you working full-time but you’re a mom!

Being a mom is hard. Period. End of statement… You get it.

Working is hard, and being a mom is hard. That means that being a working mom is very hard. It’s hard physically; it’s hard emotionally; it’s hard to be away; it’s hard to be home. It’s just plain hard.

Well, as one working mama to another, I’m here to share with you some tips that have helped me (or would have helped me if I had thought of them sooner…) survive my life as a working mama.

Enjoy it!

Yes, I said it. And, I’ll say it again: ENJOY WORK!

It may sound crazy, but work is going to be your escape. Take it from someone who is a self-proclaimed home-body. Going to work feels good some days.

Why is that?

Because at work, I’m me. I’m not Norah’s mom. I’m not hubby’s wife. I’m just me. And while I may be stressed and busy and away from my sanctuary (my couch), it’s the only place that I get to just be me. Yes, I still miss Norah. And yes, I can’t wait to go home at the end of the day. But, while I’m there, I let myself enjoy it. I joke with my co-workers. I focus on my job. I talk about things that aren’t baby-centric.

It’s nice. So, if anything else, think of work as an escape. It makes leaving your little bundle of joy a little easier.

Make a list, check it twice. And then check it again.

To do lists will become your best friend.

I’ve always been a list person. There’s something about writing everything out and crossing things off one-by-one that satisfies my type-A soul more than anything else in the world possibly can.

But, it wasn’t until I had a baby that I learned just how valuable lists could be. What changed? What made me suddenly realize that lists were more than just a way for me to hyper-organize my day?

Sleep. Actually, let me rephrase that: LACK OF SLEEP.

Even if you are an organized person by nature, your brain will suddenly start betraying you due to the added stress of having a baby. You’re tired. You’re worried about your little one. You’re thinking about the million things you have to do when you leave work. Suddenly, you forgot to do that one thing, or you can’t remember so-and-so’s name.

It happens to the best of us. Be prepared for it by writing everything down! And I mean everything!

Prioritize cleaning

Okay, I know that not everyone out there is as crazy about cleaning as I am. I might take it a little over board (at least, I’m sure my husband would probably say so).

Even still, no one likes to live in a mess. Having a baby makes everything chaotic to begin with. Chores get pushed to the back burner, laundry piles up, dishes gather in the sink. Add a full-time job to that, and things start to spiral.

Taking 15-20 minutes a day to pick up around the house isn’t a question of tidiness. Honestly. It’s about sanity. If you keep that part of your life in check, you’ll feel better. You’ll come home after a long day of work and not be bombarded with a million things to do. Little by little, it’ll all get done.

It’s hard to juggle everything. I get it. That’s why if you make a schedule, get into a routine, and do something little every day, it won’t overwhelm you. And it’ll feel so good when you’re able to slump back into the couch at the end of the day, baby in bed, house picked up, and the only thing on your mind is “who’s going to pour me a glass a wine?”

Freezer meals!

I’ve talked about these before. A lot. And, I’m going to keep talking about them–thank you very much.

Honestly, freezer meals have saved me so much time and stress. They’ve also saved my husband from the wrath of a hungry wife. So, you know, it’s a win-win.

It takes me an entire day. I pick out the meals, make my shopping list, go to the store, then prep everything. Even though I pretty much lose an entire Saturday, it’s so worth it! Busy week night? Just pop the chicken in the crock pot. Easy peasy!

I pick meals that are yummy and nutritious. Some more nutritious than others, to be honest. But, I want to make sure that we get a good meal. That’s part of the reason I’m doing this. If it weren’t a question of being healthy, we’d just go to McDonald’s or something else “fast and cheap.”

Freezer meals help us save time and maintain a good diet. They’re life savers for working parents!

Prep Prep Prep

Not only do I plan meals for dinner. I also prep lunches, as well. Again, it takes a lot of time during the weekend. But, it helps me maintain my sanity during the week.

Sundays I usually make and package all my lunches for the week. Mind you, I’m breastfeeding. This means I’m extra hungry. So, I make two lunches. Yes, you read that right. Two lunches. For each day!

I try to make things that are quick, easy, and not completely void of nutritional value. Usually I’ll make a chicken meal and some kind of pasta salad. I also do things like put grapes in little baggies or pre-portion out other snack-type things.

While it does save me so much time doing this, I’m not saying that you have to. What I do want to say, though, is that it’s good to plan, prep, and schedule. Make sure you have a routine that allows you to make sure that you’re taking care of you, too.

These tips are for the breastfeeding mamas out there

Working and breastfeeding can be difficult. It’s not impossible, though! Here are some of my tips to help you be successful.

Practice with that pump!

Pumping is awkward. Just the concept of it is strange. Even pumping in your own home the first few times is uncomfortable.

I went through a time when I had to pump every two hours. It was in the midst of our whole breastfeeding conundrum and oh-so-stressful! What made it worse was that I had to “hide” to pump. I didn’t want my husband to see me. He said he didn’t care. But, I did.

Any mom that has pumped knows that feeling uncomfortable can effect your milk production.

The only way to get around this is to get practice. It’ll still be weird at first. But, if you stick with it, you’ll get through it!

Bring all the adorable baby pictures!

One thing that can help your pumping struggle is having pictures of your baby on hand. You can look at them on your phone, watch videos, lose yourself in all that adorable baby squish!

While having the pictures on your phone is great, I love having a couple printed out and in frames on my desk. It makes me smile to look up and have her there, smiling back at me. It really does make being away from her a little bit easier. It reminds me why I’m there. I’m working for her. For our family. And that makes it worth it.

Talk to your employer before you go back to work

Are you going to pump at work? Breastfeed? Where? When? What are your workplace policies?

It’s good to get answers to these questions ahead of time. In a lot of cases, being given time and a place to pump/ feed your baby is the law. It can be a state or an employer based thing. Make sure you know what your rights are!

Get in lots of bottle practice before you go back to work

Learn from my mistakes! Don’t just try the bottle a couple times, think, “oh, yeah, we got this,” and then stop.

At one point, for about a week, Norah took a bottle. My hubby fed her at night while I pumped. We did this maybe five times? She took to it right away. She enjoyed it. No problem!

So, we stopped. This was probably a couple weeks before I went back to work. We never expected the total meltdown that ensued when my husband tried to feed her that first day. We’re talking the meltdown of all meltdowns over here.

He didn’t give up, though. He tried again the next day. And the next. I think it was after the first week when we decided enough was enough. We live close enough to where I work. It’s no problem for him to bring her to me. Problem solved! I mean, kind of.

The thing is, not many people have that option. Not a lot of moms are able to feed their babies at work. That’s why you need to get in practice (consistent practice) before your maternity leave ends.

It’ll save you, your baby, and your baby sitter a lot of trouble in the long run!

Remember: Your time is your time!

Don’t feel bad taking time to pump. Don’t feel guilty about stepping out to feed your baby. You are a mom first and foremost. Your baby needs you. Don’t give up on breastfeeding because you’re afraid to ask for the time you need at work.

When I first went back to work, I pumped. I tried to work while I was pumping because I felt guilty about taking the time away. That worked for a little bit. But then, my hubby started bringing our little girl to me.

Now, I’ve gotten pretty good at breastfeeding. But, I still haven’t found a way to type, file, etc. etc. while feeding my baby. So, there’s absolutely no way I’ll be getting anything done while I feed her. Not to mention, I had to be moved to a room that doesn’t even have a computer. Oh well!

Honestly, though. I did feel guilty at first. But then, I had to remind myself that I fought for this. I had to fight so hard to get breastfeeding to work. And I wasn’t going to jeopardize that. Not for anything.

Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about doing what you need to for your baby. Don’t let you make you feel bad, either!

Say it with me: You are Supermom! You got this!

Whether you’re working part time, full time, or just a couple hours a week, you are doing a great thing. You are providing for your baby. And, you are amazing!

Being a working mom is hard. Being away from your baby is hard. Remembering to take care of yourself is hard.

It’s not going to get easy overnight. But, with time, it gets better. You will find a routine and system eventually. Give it time. Be patient with yourself and you will find a way to make working work.

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