So, you’re a working mom. And it’s tough. Really. Tough. While I was still on maternity leave, every time I thought about going back to work, I’d bawl, especially when that dreaded day continued to get closer and closer. Don’t get me wrong, I actually do love my job. I just love being a mom more.
When not crying over having to return to work, I was stressing over how I’d manage to do it all: mom, work, clean, wife. So, finally I embraced the inevitable and did what I do best: plan.
I am naturally a very organized, everything-must-be-in-its-place-or-I’m-going-to-go-crazy person. People would tell me before the baby that I would have to embrace the fact that this may no longer happen once the baby came. I beg to differ. It is possible to balance it all. With that being said, do things happen as soon as they would have before he entered our world? Depends on the day, but usually not, and that’s ok.
So, what am I doing in my attempt to win at ‘momming’ and working? For starters, lots of trial and error. You have to discover what works best for you and your family and go from there. Then, help. There’s no way I’d be able to get everything done if I didn’t have my husband there to help me out. Lastly, get organized. Super organized. The kind of organized that makes people secretly scoff at you.
After the first week back at work or so, we started to get into a routine. If you don’t have an established routine for your baby, get one. Routines are life and sanity savers. Put in the rough couple of days to establish one; you won’t be sorry you did in the long run. Take a look at our typical workday schedule below:
- 5:30 a.m. – I get up and get ready for the day.
- 6:30 a.m. – Make breakfast, finish packing lunches, unload and reload the dishwasher
- 6:55 a.m. – Wake baby up, feed him, dress him, glean as many smiles as I can from him, eat my breakfast while he eats his
- 7:25 a.m. – Finish last minute details (adding a sweater or jewelry to my outfit, brush my teeth, put baby in car seat, pack work bag)
- 7:30 a.m. – Leave for daycare and work
- 8:00 a.m. – Work until 5:00, taking lunch at noon
- 5:15 p.m. – Pick up baby from daycare
- 5:45 p.m. – Make supper, following the lifesaving 28 day menu I’ve previously created (for more info on this, see How to Meal Plan), start laundry if needed, feed baby while supper cooks
- 6:30 p.m. – Eat supper, clean up supper, package leftovers in individual containers with serving size portions for lunches, pack next day lunches
- 7:15 p.m. – Start bedtime routine:
- Organize swaddle blankets and pajamas (here’s a video on how to super swaddle)
- Run bath
- Undress baby and make beeline to ready bath (it’s a race against the clock to see if we can make it before he pees. Sometimes I wrap him a towel. Sometimes I don’t bother until after the bath.)
- Have fun playing during bath time
- Lotion, dress, and swaddle baby
- Give vitamin D drops/medicine if needed
- Feed baby
- Baby falls asleep at the boob
- Transfer baby to crib
- Tiptoe out of the room, noting every possible sound there is that could wake him. Pray baby doesn’t wake up.
- 8:30? p.m. – Depending on how successful numbers 9 and 10 are, I’m typically done by 8:30 or a little earlier. After that I finish any dishes or tasks not completed from earlier, switch over laundry (it’s kind of a miracle if the laundry gets folded the same day it’s washed…unfortunately, this isn’t a new reality for us either. I hate laundry with a passion.) I also do a quick walk through the house, putting things back in their place/doing a quick floor sweep if needed/etc.
- 8:45 p.m. – Special time with husband. Even though I work at the place he goes to school, we are on very different schedules. Then the evening craziness ensues (often with a fussy, tired baby). So, this is a special time we’ve decided to set aside and just catch up on each others’ day and do a devotion together.
- 9:15? p.m. – (Contingent on how long our devotional time goes.) Bedtime!
For me, I’ve found that getting up earlier in the morning before anyone (even the dog) is up is when I have time to do random chores. Sometimes I’ll start laundry that morning so it can be dried later when we get home in the evening. These are usually the days when laundry might actually be folded and put away later that night instead of the next day…or, you know, three days later…
It’s next to impossible to really clean the house during week days, but that’s what the weekends are for! (See Finding Time to Clean During Your Busy Mom Life for more info on that.)
I think having a set routine is what makes going to work more bearable for us all. I stay busy (not allowing my mind to wander and think of how much I’d rather be a stay-at-home mom), and baby knows what to expect each day. Obviously, some days don’t go as planned, but it’s surprising how the majority of them do.
Having my morning and evening time (and weekends for cleaning) is really helpful, keeping us afloat. When we get home, we’re coming home to a relatively clean and organized house, which also makes it easier to leave for work every morning. I don’t have major to-do lists running through my head. And, I have my dedicated time for work every day.
Can I be honest? Being a working mom really isn’t that bad. In my situation, I’ve dreamed my whole life of someday being a mom and getting to stay home to take care of the kids. Unfortunately, that’s not our reality right now, and I’ve learned to accept it. Also speaking honestly, if I didn’t have an 8-5 job, I doubt we’d be on a routine yet and I probably wouldn’t be enjoying my time at home with him as much either. Someday, once my husband is out of school and working, we hope that I can stay home with the kids, and I’ll be really glad I’ve experienced being a working mom. I’ve learned so many valuable lessons from my experiences.
Lastly, there’s absolutely, positively no way I would be able to do this without the help of my amazing husband. Many times he’ll take our son back to his office with him and study while I make dinner, and often times he’ll take care of the supper dishes after we eat – both major helps. It’s really hard to try and cook while there is a baby around, especially if he’s needing to be held. On days when I don’t have my husband’s help for various reasons, I’ll just make sure to feed the baby before I even attempt to do anything else. He’s usually pretty cheery once his little tummy is full, and then he’ll join me in the kitchen sitting in his Bumbo chair, talking back to me as I chatter about my day and what I’m making. He’s the sweetest, just like his daddy.
So, hang in there, mama! It’s tough to work and ‘mom,’ but it can be done. Your days will be jam-packed and it will take perseverance to make it through some of them. But, I can honestly say that I love our life right now, and I hope you do, too!