This past weekend, I attended a baby shower for a friend who is expecting her first child. Like most of these events, it was filled with talk about how the mother-to-be is feeling, and the baby's room décor. The guest list was a mixture of existing and expectant moms.
I noticed the reactions of the present and future moms while my friend opened her gifts. While the expectant moms excitedly squealed at the teeny socks and rompers, the present-day moms, currently raising littles ones and working full-time, were more collected. They know first-hand that the cutest onesie in the world isn't going to solve the many moments of new mom "now what?" that our expectant friend will soon experience.
Birth of mom and dad
When baby enters the world, inquiries about how Mom and Dad are adjusting are scarce; the focus is on baby. But for new moms and dads learning to navigate the strange new world of balancing work and family, it can be a bumpy transition.
Just as your infant is embarking on a new life, so are you and your spouse. Regularly check in with each other and keep the lines of communication open and honest. Be supportive partners and remember that just as you slowly adjusted to life away from your parents, this new journey as a parent yourself may take some getting used to.
The truth about being a new parent
Below is my gift of truth for all new working moms and dads that no one will offer at the baby shower -- but should!
It's OK to think "this sucks!" sometimes
The women's movement was a great coup for career-oriented gals, but it also introduced a lot more complexity for families balancing kids and two working parents. Getting your babies and yourself out of bed, ready for the day and into the car every morning at the crack of dawn to get to daycare and work on time is exhausting and does suck! It's OK to admit it!
Absence of a paycheck doesn't make it less of a job
Parenting is rewarding in a way money could never replace, but done correctly, child-rearing is a demanding and constant job! (And of course, as a working mom, you've already got plenty on your plate)! Allow yourself a little break every now and then to be "you" before your name was changed to "Mom" or "Dad."
Remember to prioritize
Learning to identify major issues from minor hiccups takes time in your professional life, and the skill is just as important to hone as a parent. A little dirty laundry doesn't matter; taking time to bond with your child and share time together, does. Identify where your efforts will fulfill your life as a working mom the most, and structure your life accordingly.
The modern woman is redefining what it means to have a successful career. Rather than feeling torn between climbing the corporate ladder and having a happy family life, many women are choosing to merge the two and transition careers from a traditional role to a more flexible one.
Working Mom 3.0 is reinventing the definition of "working mom," as office hours are held at home and revolve around nap times.
This column begins by chronicling the experiences of Stephanie Taylor Christensen, a former marketing professional turned self-employed stay-at-home mom, writer and yoga instructor, as she strives to redefine "having it all" on her own time and terms.
More tips for working moms
Working Mom 3.0: Shifting career gears after baby
Working Mom 3.0: Use guilt for good
Working Mom 3.0: Lead by example