They continued:“Here's my different experience to have positive stories out in the conversation--I started easing back into my job after 10 weeks, and at 3 months, my son has just started full time daycare. I'm extremely excited to be back at work and owning a lot of exciting projects that are happening. I exclusively formula feed by choice without guilt, so the only daily challenge is washing all the bottles and mixing up a new batch each night, which my husband can help with. We started sleep training at 2 months as recommended by our pediatrician, so he sleeps every night from 8 pm - 7 am. It's challenging to get up and get myself ready for work before 7 when I wake him up to start getting him ready, but it's manageable.
Anyone else out there feeling happy to be back at work? I'm having a hard time finding kindred spirits when current parenting trends seem to me to be built on mom guilt, and so much of the conversation at this phase is understandably about the logistics of pumping.”
Here are the replies:
“I was in such a similar place! I was so worried about going back to work because I had heard so much about how everyone disliked it. The first few weeks were tough to get into a groove/to leave my little one, but now I am liking it. I've been back almost 5 months, and I really feel like a new person, it helps that my identity doesn't only have to be tied to being a mom (which of course is still my #1 job). Happy to chat about being a working mom anytime!”
“I’m with you! Thank you for starting this convo.
I went through some post-partum depression dealing with some deep thoughts surrounding the “who am i now?” question. I LOVE being a mom but going back to work was seriously important for my well being, my creativity and my relationship with my husband and son. I really needed to get back a part of my life separate from being a wife and mother.
I went back to work at four months, did pumping until eight months, then switched to formula and solids (which has been really fun!) i love our daycare and feel that he is getting so much from his teachers and being with other kids. Our nights, weekends, snow days and holidays when we are all together are so special, engaged and fun. We did mild sleep training and he mostly sleeps 7-7. My husband and i are also big believers in the importance of time with friends and alone time. We take turns supporting each other in those realms as well.
Again, no judgement to anyone else’s lifestyle but this is just mine and it makes me happy:)
Looking forward to hearing more points of view and ideas!”
"My kids are 5 and 7 at this point, but I was thrilled to go back to the office, particularly after my first. I was losing my mind being home all day and felt really lonely and usually pretty bored. It didn't help that she was born in early October so the days were getting shorter and colder while I was home alone.
We were extremely lucky to find a fantastic nanny (who is still with us) who I felt 100% comfortable with, and really felt like I was leaving my child with a third primary caregiver who she was lucky to have in her life. I hate the narrative of "Of course the mother is the best caregiver, but if that's not an option there are other choices". I feel pretty confidant that my nanny was at least as good with my daughter at that point as I was. I am also lucky to have a job that I love. It was such a great balance to be able to go to work and talk to my colleagues and use my professional skills, and then be able to come home at night to spend quality time with my daughter. I really never felt guilty or sad at all.
For what it's worth, we didn't sleep train my daughter and she didn't sleep through the night until she was 7 months (I went back to work at 3) and I exclusively breastfed her until weaning at 14 months. I still think it's easier to do a desk job than care for a baby when you are exhausted. Also, getting to read on the subway each day was such a treat.
At this point I've seen so many colleagues have different experiences - some hate going back to work and either deal with it until it gets easier or find a way to leave the workforce, some are thrilled to be in the office, and some feel both at the same time. There's no right way to do this thing and certainly no right way to feel. But I agree that what you usually hear assumes that mothers are going to be sad or guilty, so I always try to be vocal that my experience was not like that. We certainly don't need to feel guilty about not feeling guilty!"
"I am a kindred spirit! I also returned to work after about 3 months, and I find my job as an educator rewarding and exciting to go to each day. Of course, I relish in my evenings, weekends, and school vacations. Our daughter is with a wonderful nanny during the day, and I know she is being well taken care of and having a lot of fun with activities and play dates. Likewise, she is formula-fed and sleeps through the night from about 7:30-6:30, so I get to see her in the morning before I head off to work, which is awesome.
Sometimes I also worry- should I feel more guilty? But then I realize, I think I am lucky to have a great combination of positive factors. While I certainly feel for our peer moms who are struggling with the woes of pumping (and I wish breast feeding had worked out better for me), it can be hard to relate.
So in summary- I totally hear you, sister! Feel free to reach out if you ever need support or just want touch base further."
"You are definitely not alone. While I am way past the early stages of going back to work - I felt exactly as you do when I did. I went back at 14 weeks with my oldest and then at 11 weeks (due to some org changes that i had to deal with) with my twins. While I love my children desperately - I also love that they are not the only thing in my life. I love having adult conversation, projects that motivate me, and a cup of coffee without kids jumping on me (and wanting a taste). Working full time also makes me love the time I get to spend with them even more and honestly - i think makes me a better parent and role model to my kids. I have a TON of respect for people who stay home with their kids - I am simply not cut out to do it."
I'm with you on this. I've been back to work for around 7 months now, and I love being back at work. Of course I miss my son, but I also feel the need to say that because of the societal pressure to make sure everyone knows that I love my son more than I love my work (duh).
Some things I enjoyed (and still enjoy) when I went back to work:
Talking to other adults about non-baby things
Wearing real clothes/make up
Doing something I know I'm good at (rather than feeling like I'm failing at something that is new to me)
Being able to check my email
Being able to read a book on my commute."
"I also love being back at work. There are definitely many challenges, and some weeks run more smoothly than others (ie this week dealing with hard core 8 month sleep regression). Overall, I am really happy to be at work. I had a great maternity leave, but I missed adult conversations and using my brain on a daily basis.
Before I had my daughter, I was convinced I would want to quit my job and stay home. So I was super surprised when I found myself craving work again. I definitely miss my daughter during the day, but I don't feel guilty about working.
So I definitely don't think you're alone! We were people before we had babies, sometimes it seems like society forgets we are still people after!"
I returned to work over a month ago and I am happy too! I’m also happy to breastfeed my 5mo old son and see him thriving and happy. I miss him but I know he’s getting great care.
The logistics of pumping are a bit annoying at first, but it’s doable and worth it, if a working mom chooses to breastfeed (and has a good environment to do it). It takes organization, time, and commitment. But, what doesn’t? And with all the great tips you get in this group, I am able to keep it up.
I don’t think parenting should be about guilt, but some of us have less flexibility than others. And it takes time to find the right balance. I think I also have the benefit of being an older mom; there is little guilt about anything once you hit 40 ;)
It’s important to share positive stories!"
"I went back to work after three months of our son coming into the world. We had a nanny-share and later daycare, and I was pumping three or four times a day. Ooof!
Let me just say, it was SO hard for me the first six months, maybe eight (!). I was not sleeping, making errors in my data and research because I was so deprived of sleep, (also apologizing to my boss who was sympathetic, thank goodness). But I was determined to stick through it because I too was enjoying work and excited to be back. At first I was very demanding of myself, which just made me upset I was not performing like I wanted. Mostly the "guilt" was about adhering to the new life of schedules when I was not previously the planning type.
It was a little later, into the fifth or sixth month mark of being back, that I started giving myself more breaks, went back to the gym, started sleeping more..and started enjoying the wild ride of being a working parent. I love the NYC-lifetstyle and pace, and am happy to be back in it, and I recently got a great promotion so that is very affirming to me! It took me a while to get on track, I admit, maybe longer than some moms--wow!
So I am celebrating with you all, happy working moms!!"
"I hate the negativity that seems to come with the conversations around mothering plus work. My kids are 9 and 11 and I would not have it any other way. Everyone in the family is out living up to their potential. The family is better of financially. Kids' are inspired by mom's work. I think this group does go down a spiral of negativity that is not needed. Of course we do not live in perfect times (#metoo). But there has never been a better time to be a woman in America and I for one am thankful for all the women who helped us get here. And hopefully these debates will be nonsensical by the time my daughter grows up."
"Agree with everything people have said. When I went back to work I was very happy to have another purpose in my life, although I did find myself wishing I could work shorter days. One thing I definitely noticed is that I felt like a better mom after returning to work- the time I spent with my daughter was much more meaningful and I was much more 'in the moment'. I've also come to appreciate the fact that since my husband and I both work we get to spoil our daughter in ways we wouldn't if one of us stayed home. So many rules are about making life run smoother, but since we don't spend all day with her we can bend those rules more easily (eg, letting her eat in the living, pulling all of her clothes out of drawers, etc)."
Yes to all of this! I went back to work when my little dude was 13 weeks and it was really hard at first but now I’m so happy to be back. I’ve worked really hard to get where I am in my career and most days love what I do and find it fulfilling. And it’s nice to have somewhere to go that is about me using my brain and challenging myself in a different way. I’ve also been lucky to find a great day care than he loves.
The one thing I am still struggling with is that I feel like I should be doing more with him on weekends - library, museums, whatever, but so much stuff (singalongs, movement classes, storytimes) are during weekdays. I think once he gets a little older and can interact more with things/people it will be easier to do some of that stuff."
"It's nice to see a work-affirming thread. I love my job, I love my career choice, and my kid has loved daycare/school. I don't get paid much as I am in a Fellowship, but I love what I do and this is part of my career training and it's got to be done (and the light at the end of the tunnel is already visible!). It was hard not because I felt guilty, but because pumping and commuting while being efficient at work is tough and it took me about 4 months to get a rhythm.
I want to address the economic angle of a working parent. We did not have much (read: any) money when I was growing up, and my mother worked, as hers did too. Being financially independent and solvent is a big factor for me. I will support my daughter's choice if she doesn't want to work one day, but I will tell her that financial freedom is crucial. Of course, if you stay home because you have a big chunk of savings you squirreled away then more power to you!
For what it's worth, I exclusively breast fed for 9 months without being sanctimonious :), I enjoyed the bonding time with my kid, and continued to BF until my daughter weaned herself at 14 months. As soon as BFing became a chore I added formula. I am just not interested in feeling bad about my choices! I feel that you can and should do whatever feels right for your family. While I sympathize with fellow parents on lots of different levels, I find the debate around guilt useless. If you work because you need money - don't be guilty, you are providing. If you work because you love it, then even better - kids are happier around more fulfilled parents.
Yay for work, yay for happy mamas, and yay for QT with kiddos. And yay for the Audible app on the commute :)."
"I too love my job and also find that spending time away from my son, now almost 2, makes me a better parent. For me, working part time has been the right choice. After spending 5 months at home after my baby was born, I found being a stay at home parent was tremendously challenging and I missed my job and the people I worked with. Everyone is different and has different strengths and weaknesses and it's so important to be accepting of yourself and practice self-compassion. It's so sad that it's almost funny that working moms feel bad about not feeling guilty enough... definitely a paradigm that needs to shift! Life is short and hard enough without feeling guilty about just doing the best you can!"
"I really appreciate this post. I work full time and some weekends and love my job most of the time. I am however hoping that future mothers get More consistent paid time off for maternity leave. I had six months off with my first child and I am currently pregnant and will not get that same amount of time partly due to the nature of my job but also because we cannot afford a prolonged unpaid salary. I hope that this changes in the future and I think policy changes will help retain more American women in the workforce. In addition, I hope that there will be better more affordable options for childcare because I know that’s also a limiting factor for some parents to return to work."
"I've been enjoying watching this thread grow for the past day and really enjoying hearing everyone's experiences.
I have been back at work since July when my son was 4 months old. I had quit my former position when I was about 3 months pregnant (I'm a pastry chef and being on call to the restaurant 24-7 was not something I wanted to continue with while pregnant much less once the baby arrived. I tried to work out some sort of solution that would not make me the sole person responsible for covering call outs and other emergencies but the owners weren't on board with making that happen.) So when I went back to work it was entirely new position and it was as a chef-instructor, a corner of the industry that was brand new to me. It was a blessing having the challenge of adapting to entirely new position because I had no time to dwell on being separated from my son. Also, the hours are great compared to restaurant life and I really relish the time I do get to spend with him.
That said, if I had not gone back to work and remained his primary caregiver I am certain I would have lost my mind pretty quickly. I am not the kind of person who is great at entertaining kids and I would not enjoy doing it full time, even with my own. Luckily we found a great daycare pretty close to home that is staffed with people who have the skills that I lack and he's doing great there. I had a relatively easy time breastfeeding, so I'm still pumping breastmilk, though barely any at this point and I'll probably phase that out in the next couple months.
I applaud people who have what it takes to be full time caregivers to small children, but I think I would feel trapped. I like having my own life at work that offers me personal challenges and a sense of having accomplished something of my own.
Keep up the great work."
"I just wanted to say thank you for all these posts! I am expecting my first in April and everyone keeps being super negative about going back to work and pushing their opinions/giving me grief on how I'm going to feel afterwards and essentially making me feel like I'm going to be a bad mother for to go back to work.
I love that there is finally a positive spin about this! Thank you again."
"Adding another voice to this thread. I started my own photo and video business to ultimately have the freedom to work on a documentary project, which meant leaving a great full time gig when I was 3 months pregnant. I knew it was nuts, but I also knew it would be the better fit for me to have flexible work with a lot less travel than the full time gig. I spent a couple more months focusing on being a mom than I had originally intended, and now at 1.5yrs old, my work and my daughter are both thriving.
It's not easy, but neither is being a FTM. I took a huge risk, dipped into my savings to pay for a nanny share in order to build my business, but now I work for myself and I'm building my client base slowly, and TRULY happy with it all. I've recently photographed a few births, which allows me to give back to this amazing community and feel like I'm doing indirect acts of feminism, too.
I realize that I'm fortunate to have the help of an awesome nanny (which is about the same $$ as daycare), and the savings (but not much). A huge part of this, though, is knowing that my daughter is better off with a mama who is proud of her work. Unfortunately, until our culture values motherhood in different ways, this is my reality. My purpose is both a mother and a storyteller."
Just to jump in and say how much I appreciate this thread too. I have definitely gotten some subtle (and some very not-so-subtle) hints that I am not doing the right thing by working full-time, or at all, and it’s really nice to have the support of this community to help with that.
While there are hard aspects of course, I also definitely appreciate my “adult” time, reading on the commute and just having activities that are not 100% kid-centric. I feel like I am a happier, more focused parent when I am home as a result of working, and my daughter just absolutely loves her daycare and they’re really able to engage her in so many activities there (they bring in a regular music teacher, have a big outdoor playspace, etc.), plus the financial aspects as others have pointed out, that it’s hard for me to not see it as a positive for us.
I just wish there were a little less judgment of mothers’ choices these days. I feel like it’s a “damned if you do” situation – whether you choose to work from home or go back to work. It can be an agonizing decision no matter what you do, and you should be able to do what’s right for your family without the judgment that’s only making everything harder."