Tuesday, July 20, 2010

5 Survival Tips for the Working Momma

Before I went back to work, we went through various iterations of what our 'working life' would look like and when the time came we slowly found a routine that worked our little family.  Our routine and our system is continually evolving and in some moments it feels as if it is failing us, but we keep trucking forward and do the best that we can.  Every mommas experience is going to be different, but here are my top 5 tips to survive life as a working momma.

1.      Have confidence in your caregivers
You have to trust.  You have to believe that your child is safe and happy.  You have to.  With family its easy, but with daycare, with someone completely new, it's a little harder. 
The boy goes to daycare two days a week; our daycare provider L and I hit it off right away and I was confident that if we could connect this easily, the boy could too.

We did gradual entry and even though he only goes a couple days a week he stopped crying EVERY day when I dropped him off after less than a month.  When I pick the boy up, he's consistently happy, well-fed and well-napped and I trust that L will contact me if I was needed.  Because I trust, I can do my job, without being plagued by the dreaded mommy guilt (at least not too much).

You may not be so lucky as to find a caregiver that feels 'right' on your first encounter, but its worth the effort to find someone that is a match for your family.  Seriously, find someone you can trust. 

2.      Maximize the time you DO have with your child
The boys waking hours allow for about an hour and forty-five minutes between when we get home and when he goes for his bath.  The boys play while I cook and then after dinner, the hubs cleans up a bit while the boy and I play.  Sometimes we all go for a walk and I don't make lunches or do chores unless the boys go out on a bike ride.  I do my chores after the boy is in bed, because I want every second with that little man that I can squeeze in.
On his daycare days, the boy and I commute together; I opted to find childcare in the vicinity of my work instead of my home.  Having the boy right there close by makes me comfortable, I can get to him if he needs me. It also means that I get close to an hour of time with the boy that he would otherwise be spent at daycare.  Granted it’s not the highest quality time, but we manage to entertain ourselves.  I can't wait until he starts talking so he can tell me of his adventures.  Try and find a way to make the time you do have work for your family, let the things that you can afford to, slide.

3.      Love your job (or at least aspects of your job)
I am lucky.  I went to University and studied Environmental Studies and Biology and I work in Environmental Services for my Provincial Government.  I work to ensure that both the needs of our public and the needs of our environment are considered during infrastructure development.  I believe in the work that I do and I am proud to be a part of it.

And despite all of that it was still hard to leave my child and go to work.  The first day, I kept telling myself, 'thank goodness I love my job'.  And it was true, if I didn't it would have been such a struggle. 
I'm not so naive as to think that everyone has a job they love and I know finding a new job is often not an option, but I urge you, try and find one aspect of your job that you are passionate about.  

What made you take that job in the first place? What about your job makes you happy? Or leaves you feeling satisfied? Or like your making a difference?  Find that small positive grain in your work life and embrace it.  When you feel purpose at work, the days pass faster, which means your little one will be back in your arms in the blink of an eye.
4.      Establish a baseline routine
I am all about the routine, having a regular sequence of events within a particular timeframe.  With so many balls in the air, working momma's need to have a plan if they ever want to accomplish anything.  I get up before the boy (if he's awake he plays in his bed) to shower, dress and make breakfast.  The hubs cleans up the kitchen while I dress the boy and get the food and diaper bag together.  We're all out the door in just over an hour from when I got up.

The point is that in order to enjoy the time you have together, it helps to feel confident everything will get done.  Find a routine that works for your family's needs and don't be afraid to do it all the time.  The routine and the order of things, might get changed by circumstances occasionally or over time and thats ok, when you have a baseline routine, you have a tried and true system to revert back to in times of chaos.

5.      Embrace the help you have
In the early days the hubs wasn't always sure how best to help me, or the boy; when he didnt feel that he could help us, he helped with the chores.  He regularly does laundry and dishes, he sweeps and cleans and hes done all sorts of home improvement projects including making our backyard safer for the boy.  

Now that Im back at work and the boy is older, our parental roles have evolved, the boys have their time together and although we both have chores that we do more frequently, we help each other out where we can and do our best to acknowledge that we are both working hard to have the best for our family.  We still fling blame around sometimes, but I try to embrace the help the hubs has to give without judgement and I hope he does the same.  I truly believe it’s a perspective thing, try and see the glass as half full ladies optimism can go a long way in improving your outlook and your experience.

Are you a working Momma? 
What are your tips for surviving as a working momma?

This post was inspired by Day 2 of the Problogger challenge, my elevator pitches post from yesterday and Exploits of a Military Mamas Dear Working Mama's post.


  1. This is such an excellent tips, I will pass it to my friend who just join the working mom force! :D

  2. Great Post! I would add "Take Care of Yourself a bit" :)

  3. Great post, found you through BlogFrog & ProBlogger challenger :) I couldn't agree with you more about loving your job. Unfortunately, I no longer loved mine and couldn't go through working with my 2nd like I did with my first and recently became a SAHM - something I never imagined I would do.

    Stop by and visit my blog. I have 2 youngs boys!

  4. "Love your job" -- That's the one I'm working on! That's the main motivator behind my blog actually.
    Thanks for posting!
    Our babies are the same age :)
    Come and visit!

  5. Note: your comments feature does not allow for bloggers to post their URL outside of the few listed... Could be a turn off for many. I had to select Google but I'm not on Blogger, so you won't find my blog there!
    I'm at www.francoamericandream.com

  6. Great tips! I'm a working mama too. The routine part is SO key- I had to make a checklist of things to do the night before just so I wouldn't forget (and because it changes each day due to my part-time schedule, kids in different places, etc).

    P.S. I'm not a Blogger blogger so here's my URL if you'd like to stop by: http://www.adventuroo.com :-)

  7. Awesome post. Visiting from the pro blogger challenge. You did a great job with this.

  8. I run a home daycare and I agree with number one. Nothing is worse than feeling like a parent is skeptical of leaving their child with me. I have three kids, I've been doing this a long time, just TRY to trust me on this one! It makes the whole back to work thing more comfortable for everyone...not to mention the kids totally pick up on the hesitation and tension from their parents!

  9. Great Post! I have struggle with the battle between family and career for years. I wish back in the day that there were blogs like these that offer such great advice.

  10. Thanks for all the comments ladies.

    Maureen - thanks for sharing and tweeting!
    Amanda - I didn't include 'take care of yourself' as I think of that as advice for EVERY (new) mom, though your right its even more applicable when you work too.
    Itrocks2bmom - good for you to find the right fit for your family, my mom stayed home with us and I was always thankful to have her there when we got home from school
    Maryline - I will for sure try and stop by your blog, thanks for the comments on posting - I might change to discus or something like that.
    Melissa - our routine changes daily too, but the basline routine helps.
    Sheri - thanks for stopping by!! Look forward to checking out your stuff too!
    amber :)

  11. Mama Kat - great points, I hadn't even thought about how difficult it must be for the caregiver when the parent doesn't trust. And kids absolutley pick up on their parents emotions.

    One girl - THANK YOU.

  12. So, so, so true! Great job!

  13. All great points.

    #2 is my favorite. These are the things that I remember years later and hug in my mind.

  14. Just stopping by from SITS and the ProBlogger Challenge. What a great list post. I've just recently returned to work after mat leave and I was also unsure of how my new life as a working mom would be. It's taken me a couple months to get to where you are now, but this list will be very helpful for anyone going back to work to help them prepare mentally for the huge change. Thanks for writing on this topic.


  15. Excellent advice. I'm a stay at home mom, but I know many women who work outside the home, and feel torn because of it.

    SITS challenge visiting. Great job on your list post! Peace. ;)

  16. Very nice. Now I'm a SAHM but for years I worked outside of the home. Wish I had your helpful tips then! :) You should have seen my frenzied morning routine back then.

  17. Going back to work was the most stressful aspect of having a baby for me. Even though I have great child care, it's still tough.

    Great list. Enjoy the challenge.


  18. Great post! Visiting from the SITS challenge. I am about to head back to work after the summer off as a teacher. We are on day 2 of a new daycare, and some pretty loud screams! I really appreciated #1 on your list - I just need to trust that he is well cared for and happy.

    Thanks for sharing!


  19. Stop by from SITS....great post! It is so hard to balance work life and home life - and to trust someone else caring for your children!

  20. I'm all over #4. It is our routine that makes our lives so much easier every single day and maximizes our QUALITY time together.

  21. I'm stopping over from the #31DBBB challenge. I work from home and I think your tips are so relevant. I especially love the establish a baseline routine. Could not agree more, a routine will keep you sane.

  22. Amber you are the best and i love you...Happy Birthday Girl..your momma

  23. I think this is a fantastic list post. I am a working mom and these are the things that really make it all work. Great post. Thanks for doing it. PS - I'm at www.thefamilytrifecta.com and coming over from 31DBBB


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