One of the hardest decisions I had ever faced in my life was one that I was not expecting. Two years ago, after having my beautiful daughter, the thought of leaving her every day to go to work seemed inconceivable. I knew in my heart, my head, my gut, literally every fiber of my being that I needed to be a stay-at-home mom. There was no one in the world that could take care of my daughter the way I can and give her what she needs like I can and the thought of missing a single moment or milestone in her life crushed me.
Unfortunately, like many other women who wait until their 30’s or 40’s to have children, I was well into my career and provided a large portion of the financial well-being to my household. My husband and I had set up our lifestyle based on two incomes, and as much as I wanted to and was ready to leave my career, after looking at the financial impact it would have (and trust me I looked at every angle possible) there was just no feasible way we could financially survive without me going back to work.
The day that I dropped my daughter off for her first day of school I was a mess. I am not sure I have ever cried more in my life as I did the moment I walked out of her classroom and headed to my car to drive off to my first day back at work.
I am going to be honest, I cried every day for a couple months until one day I didn’t. It was hard, but it got better. The more I trusted her school and teachers and the more I got back into my work and was enjoying what I was doing, the more I got into a routine, the easier it got.
I understand that I am in a great situation and feel so lucky that I work for Egencia. Egencia is a company that has a culture focused on work/life balance and truly gives me the opportunity to have both a family and a career and not feel like I must sacrifice one for the other. I don’t have to feel guilty if I need to stay home with my sick baby or need a little flexibility so I can be present at school events. I feel that being surrounded in this culture has made my journey of being a working mom possible.
Overall, I feel that by going back to work I have truly found my balance. Life is busy for sure (more than I ever could have imagined) but I have my professional life where I get my intellectual stimulation and then my time at home with my family, although is not all day long, it is quality time. Because I have had the time away from my daughter during the day, when we are together we cherish that time and I feel like I can be fully engaged and present with her when we are together.
Also, I now see how well my daughter is thriving both socially and intellectually. I feel that my decision to go back to work was not only beneficial for myself but has also been beneficial for my daughter as well. While I still wholeheartedly believe that there was no one in the world that can take care of my daughter the way I can and give her what she needs like I can (because I am her Mom and no one can take that role from me), I also understand that there are things I cannot give her as well. She spends her days in an environment focused on specific activities tailored to her developmental needs at the moment and is working with professionals who have the education and training to provide her with the tools and lessons to push her development.
Going back to work after having a baby is not always the right situation for everyone. Some people know from day one that they want to go back to work and they cannot wait to be back in the office. Others know that working is just not going to be the right situation for their child and family. It is a very personal decision and what is right for one family is not going to be right for another. Although the decision was hard for me (and in the beginning felt wrong) I am happy that I went back to work. I feel that giving myself this balance allows me to be the best Mom and the best role model for my daughter and as parents that is what we are all striving for.
** My Top 3 Tips for going back to work:
Be clear with your Manager and Team on what you need to transition back to work.
Everyone is going to feel different about this decision and need different things and a different level of support. Communicate how you are feeling, where you are struggling and what you think you are going to need to make a successful transition back to the workforce.
Talk to other parents about their experience
Lean on your new parent community and learn what worked (and didn’t work) for them. This will help you not feel alone in your feelings and overall situation. It is especially helpful if you can find a network of parents in your workplace.
It takes time.
Your life situation has changed, drastically! Give yourself time to figure out your new schedule and routine. Give yourself time to catch up on what you missed while you were off and re-learn what you may need to. Give yourself time to know if the decision you made to go back to work was right or not (because it is not right for everyone).