(dedicated to all the women I know who are here. This is JUST for you.)
Dear Friend Who Just Went Back To Work,
You know who you are. Your kiddos are getting older and you’ve just started back to work! I’m so proud of you. This is a big time for all of you and there’s a lot to think about.
I remember when this day came for me and I thought I’d give you a few tips. You know, things nobody told me. They might help. Or you might be so tired, since this is the first week and all, that you fall asleep reading the list. That’s OK. You need your rest.
- You cannot keep doing things the way you did before. You’ll be tempted, I know. Tempted to continue volunteering at church, making amazingly healthy school lunches, and getting a hot dinner on the table 7 nights (or heck, even 5) a week. You cannot. I don’t care how well you manage your time or how many times you visit your favorite storage and organization store for tips (and I hope you do;). There are still only 24 hours in every day and only one, you so accept that things are going to change. Decide what’s negotiable and what’s not. For me? I could live with more take-out. Lots more take-out. And the kids bought lunch from 1st grade on. Nobody died.
- Your friends won’t really get it and they don’t have to. You don’t have to make lots of excuses for why you can’t commit or show up like you used to. You can’t because you’re tired. So don’t over-explain. A simple “I’m sorry, I’m unable to do that” is sufficient. And oddly empowering. No excuse needed. This was really always true but is especially essential now.
- Don’t feel bad when your spouse has to step it up a bit and do more. Divide, delegate, PARTNER. Because if you’re not OK, nobody will be OK. Nobody likes being around a martyr and the resentment building up isn’t healthy for anyone. I know, I know, your spouse is already a huge help! Let them do MORE.
- GIVE YOURSELF TIME. Yes, it’s going to take time. It took me six full months. New normals aren’t born overnight. You’re going to try and fail, and try and fail, and try and fail again. But eventually you will find a rhythm that works for you.
- Don’t give up things you love. You need to continue to exercise, see your friends, and make time for YOU. Notice I said MAKE TIME. It won’t come until you make it. Period. Figure it out however you can; enlist the help of your spouse, your in-laws, you neighbors. There were far too many years where my family sacrificed nothing because of my work. But boy, I sure did. Let’s all sacrifice a little and then we can all get mostly what we need, OK?
- Lastly, you can do this. There will be days on the drive to work, or on the way home, or both, especially at first, when you will cry and think you’ve made a horrible mistake. You haven’t. Your family will adjust and so will you. It’s going to be OK.
So now, go make some tea or pour a glass of wine and just breathe. You got this.
A Working Mom Who Remembers