It feels so long ago now, but I was right there with you; I had just finished my maternity leave and I was getting ready to re-enter the workforce. I remember feeling worried about being able to manage my family and a career, wondering how I would manage to maintain a home, a marriage, be a good mother, and how I could possibly manage or even attempt to carve out some time to grow and flourish professionally. Well, like all women placed in this situation, I survived it. Was is always easy? Heck no! Did I sometimes question my choices? YES! Would I do it all over again? Of course, I would! However, knowing what I know today, I would offer myself some sage advice. Here’s what I would tell my younger self-starting off as a new mother while re-entering the workforce:
1. Ask for help: This is a big one. As much as we want to be superwoman to everyone we are not, and we are fooling ourselves and damaging our heath trying to be her. You wear many hats, so don’t be afraid to ask for help from colleagues, parents, your spouse, friends, and neighbors. People are generally very good and enjoy lending a hand – give them that chance.
2. Leave perfectionism at the door: Perfectionism is a major energy waster and increases your daily stress quota, not to mention that it royally irritates people around you! Avoid it at all costs because it will only drag you down and waste your precious energy. So, the next time you feel the urge to handcraft those birthday cards or sew your child’s Halloween costume stop and look for alternative ways to get the job done (unless of course you love doing those things and they release stress)!
3. Save your energy by 20%: This is a good practice to get into and a way to be more mindful of where you invest your time and energy. Again, by avoiding perfectionism and by being strategic in the way you plan your day, you may be able to save even more than 20% of your daily energy reserve. Two good ways of doing this are: asking for help and delegating menial tasks. Don’t be afraid to turn a blind eye to those dust bunnies in the corner!
4. Never compromise on sleep: Although being a new mother can be hard on your sleep cycle (been there!), make sure to establish a good sleep routine prior to going to bed. This becomes a calming and relaxing nightly ritual aimed at helping you make the most of your shut-eye. Some popular recommendations for bedtime rituals are: diffusing lavender essential oils in your bedroom, turning off all technology at least one hour prior to going to bed, sipping on a decaffeinated tea, listening to calming music, meditating, journaling, being grateful, or doing some light reading. Try a few out to determine what works best for you.
5. Focus on your life and your reality: Although you will be tempted, forget what’s happening on Facebook with other mothers and their offspring! “Facebook envy” will only increase pressure for you to one-up other mommies. Because, who cares if your friend’s daughter has just won the science fair, or another friend’s child has read her first novel at the age of 5, or that another one’s six-year-old can play Beethoven’s Moonlight sonata? Instead, remember that people only post what is most impressive and forgo the realistic and the mundane. Instead of wasting time feeling bad or resentful, focus on you, your situation, and your progress.
6. Carve out time every day to cultivate yourself: This is critical if you are going to remain sane. You need some personal headspace during the day. You may need to get creative for this, but take the time! This can be 30- 60 minutes early in the morning, during your lunch break, or when the kids are in bed. Find what works for you and spend that time journaling, reading, or doing something that feeds your mind and allows you to grow and flourish. This does not include sitting in front of the TV!
7. Exercise: No need to go to a fancy gym for this one! All you need is to make sure you are getting some steps in every day and are moving. Walking (preferably with a pedometer) is the best way to stay active and fit. It does not take a lot of time and can easily be coupled with other great activities, like listening to a great audiobook! The endorphins will start flowing and you will feel empowered!
8. Connect with like-minded women: Find a support group where you feel comfortable discussing issues and situations. These groups can often offer valuable insight and support when you need it most. If you can’t find a group in your area, consider creating one. Even a virtual private group on Facebook can do the trick!
9. Eat well: It goes without saying that a proper diet is the key to maintaining your health and energy level. To help in this department, you need to plan, plan, plan! Junk food is so readily available everywhere that you need to have healthy foods nearby to help ward off unwanted calories and artificial additives. Prepare dinner, lunches, and snacks on the weekend. That way, when Monday morning rolls around, you are ready to go with nothing but healthy, nutritious meals.
10. Stop and smell the roses: Although you may feel like you are on a perpetual roller-coaster, stop and give yourself the opportunity to relax. Have coffee with your spouse, go out to dinner with some friends, play and have fun! Not only will this be good for your mood, stress level, and health, it will also improve your creativity and problem-solving skills! So, the next time you feel the urge to take that laptop to bed, don’t. Watch a fun movie with your spouse or play around with your little one. Everyone will be happier in the end!
There you have it! Although there are lots of other bits of advice I could tell my younger self, these 10 points have stuck with me over the years. I hope that you take what you need from this post and create that balance you seek to live a happy and healthy life as a new mom in today’s workforce!
What advice would you give yourself knowing what you know today as you re-enter the workforce? What tips and strategies have worked for you? Please feel free to share a comment in the reply box below!
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