A couple of months ago, I dropped my children off for their first day of preschool. I had all the feels: the guilt, the relief, and the overwhelm caused by feeling so many things all at once.
I slowly began transitioning back into the workplace. I gradually increased my hours until I began working full time. Last week was my first week as a full time working mom.
It was the right choice for my family. I adore my children, but with my MBA program coming to an end, I wasn’t feeling intellectually stimulated anymore. I needed something different. And so did they. I wanted them to have social interaction and experiences that I wasn’t creative enough to offer.
The first year after the triplets were born, I did the working mom thing all wrong. I worked too much too soon and was left with very little emotional capacity for my new family. As soon as I was able, I quit my job and focused most of my energy on staying at home and caring for my children. During that time, I healed all the broken parts leftover from the traumatic birth, long NICU stay and utter exhaustion of the first year.
I knew when I returned to the working world, I wanted to do it differently this time. Here are the five things that I focused on when choosing a job to make this time around work better for myself and my family.
- Think outside of the box. The job you choose doesn’t have to be a traditional 9-5. It doesn’t even have to be outside of the home. Maybe now is the time to start that business that has been brewing inside of you for years. I think it is the default setting of mothers to see their growing families as an obstacle. I’m going to challenge that notion and suggest that instead of viewing them as a barrier, you think of them as a reason. The motivation you need to be your best, most productive self at work.
- Consider all of the costs. The most obvious cost is childcare. And not just whether or not you can afford it, but whether or not you can find a place to send your children that makes you feel good. You must also consider less obvious costs such as gas and (if your body totally changed like mine did after pregnancy) a new work wardrobe. And, of course, don’t forget about opportunity cost. Is this job going to take you away from your family so much that you resent it? Are you going to be able to create margin in your life for self-care? Think about all of the non-monetary things that will change when you take a new job.
- Take time to consider your strengths and passions. This is TOTALLY worth the time and energy. There are a couple of books that really helped me to sort this out. My favorite “figure out your life book” is Essentialism by Greg McKeown. You also can’t go wrong with the most recent version of the classic job-hunting and soul-searching book, What Color Is Your Parachute by Dick Bolles.
- Don’t settle. When I was job-hunting, there were lots of opportunities that seemed like they might work out. And I have to admit that when I received job offers with sign-on bonuses and higher incomes, I was tempted. But there was always something about them that didn’t feel quite right, so I waited. It turned out to be the right choice. Now I’m at a job that may not make the most money, but it offers me the flexibility and lifestyle that I was really craving.
- Talk to other working moms. Figure out what they’re doing to make it all work out. An excellent book for learning some alternative scheduling and ideas for blending family life with work life is I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam. She is a productivity expert who closely examined the schedules of more than 100 women with 6-figure salaries to figure out what they are doing to succeed both at home and at work. If you’re thinking about pursuing a business at home, an excellent book just came out called Money Making Mom by Crystal Paine. She is the brain behind the blog Money Saving Mom and designer of the super popular and effective course Make Over Your Mornings.
Remember, this doesn’t have to be permanent. Whatever decision you make now doesn’t have to be forever. If it turns out to be a poor fit, you can always reset, reimagine, and make other plans for yourself. Best of luck on your journey.
Hello there! I’m Krysta. If you’re new to The Thoughtful Mom, welcome! And thank you for stopping by.
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