It's Working Project

My biggest source of support has been fellow working moms.

What is one piece of advice you wish you could offer your former expectant self?

I would tell my expectant self that the daily grind, between the daycare drop off/pick up, commute and work, is really hard and to find every way possible to simplify it. If that means changing jobs, paying/paying more for certain things, or shifting responsibilities, do it. Lower your expectations for what you are able to accomplish day to day, slow down and breathe so
that you enjoy the best moments of being a mom.

What was your primary motivation for deciding to return (or not) to work? How early did you tell your employer?

I had always planned to return to work, partly because I have worked really hard to get to where I am in my career, but also because we count on my income because of lifestyle choices we have made. I told my employer before I left on maternity leave that I would be returning to work, and at the same time, negotiated so that I would have a slow transition
back to work (four months in total).

FOR MOMS: If you breastfed, was there a place for you to pump that met your needs and was conducive to your success? If you breastfed, how did you decide to continue? FOR DADS: What, if any, adjustments did you (or your workplace) make to your schedule after having a baby? Was it specific to your manager or larger, whole work culture?

Fortunately, I worked at a hospital at the time that was very supportive of breastfeeding, so the breastfeeding/mother’s room that I pumped in was beautiful! I felt very supported in continuing to breastfeed while transitioning back to work. That said, it was still inconvenient because of my busy schedule. In hindsight, because I worked in a place that was so
supportive of breastfeeding, I wish I would have taken more advantage of that and continued to breastfeed longer than I did. It’s hard! But I was sad when I stopped and probably could have gone longer.

How much leave did you take, and how comfortable were you taking it?

I took four months total maternity leave and felt comfortable taking it because I was protected under FMLA and had sick leave, short-term disability and vacation time. However, I went back to work right when my baby’s four-month sleep regression hit and it was brutal. I wish I could have taken five months, but we would have had to dip into more savings than we were comfortable doing. Fortunately, in Oregon, we have the Oregon Family Leave Act which works like FMLA, and adds an additional 12 weeks of bonding time (unpaid, and supervisor approval needed, however).

How easy was it to put a childcare arrangement together and did it work for your family?

It was relatively easy to get our child in daycare (close to our home) because we put our names on several waiting lists as soon as I found out I was pregnant. It was stressful though because even though we were on several waiting lists, we didn’t find out until after the baby was born which daycare we would be accepted to. So far, it has worked really well. I love the
teachers at the daycare and so does my son! That has made it so much easier. The only down side to daycare has been the cost!

When did the “new normal” set in for you?

The new normal set in for me around 8 months, and that was when I realized that my job at the time was not conducive to my changing need for flexibility. I became overwhelmed with the daily grind of leaving the house early and getting home late due to a difficult commute and inflexible work schedule. It was around that time that I began exploring my options for
more flexibility, and ultimately decided to leave that job for another job that I am currently at. The new normal is much better now!

What was your biggest challenge going back to work?

My biggest challenge in returning to work was the daily routine with the kiddo, which started at 6am and ended at 7pm. I had a very challenging commute because I was not able to drive to work, which ended up taking at least 1.5 hours out of my day that could have been spent with my baby. I constantly felt rushed to pick him up from daycare because he was there for
10 hours a day. I also felt guilty about him being in daycare too long. In order to ease my commute time, I asked for more flexibility with my job and ultimately my request was denied for a variety of reasons (some understandable, some not). In the end, while I really loved my job, I decided that I needed to find a job that would offer more work/life balance and ease
the day-to- day grind. It was very difficult and disappointing, but I am happy to report that I found a job that is much better for our family on many levels (on week 3 in the new job!)

Who was your biggest source of support in returning to work? What was your biggest pregnancy indulgence?

My biggest source of support has been fellow working moms. While I had a lot of mom friends, many of them lived all over the country due to a cross-country move several years ago. So, I started a Facebook support group with my mom friends called Online Mom Tribe and we now have almost 600 members! I was able to reconnect with fellow working
moms, one in particular (you know who you are!) who helped me to ask for what I needed and ultimately helped me find an even better job that is a perfect fit for me. I am much happier because I had the courage to quit my job and found an even better one as a result.

My biggest pregnancy indulgence was La Croix water and frozen yogurt! I also got a lot of pedicures and massages.

Fill in the blanks: As a working parent, I never expected ____ would be so hard and ____ would be so much easier!

As a working parent, I never expected that the day-to- day grind and not having work flexibility would be so hard and getting my baby to sleep through the night would be so much easier!

As a working parent, a bad day is when _____ and a good day is when _______.

As a working parent, a bad day is when I feel guilty about how long my baby is in daycare each day and a good day is when I can pick up him up early from daycare, make dinner and have time to play with him at the end of the day.