October 10, 2013

Steps to Prepare to Return to Work

The best part of going to work was knowing I was coming home (the countdown began on the train, on the hour . . . of every hour). I remember what it was like almost two months ago (yes, I'm giving you advice on going back to work, and I've only been at work for two months). Trust me ladies, its eternity in our "working mother" worlds.

Side-note, as I give you advice: I've learned that the guilt doesn't go away. It still hasn't. When you get home, you think about all that time you missed... and all the time you could have been there to hold their little, warm and needy bodies. 

The first day of work, I sat down on the train after I rushed to buy my ticket (HMLTN --> NYP), threw it in my colossal purse's one zipper pocket and found a seat. As the train conductor came around, I realized that one of Zakariya's sock was hoisted right in the corner of the pocket, near the train ticket. I balled. Eyeliner a mess. I was so ready to conquer work the moments ahead of that, ready in my suit, feeling polished.... only to face reality once again. My son was home, sock-less (as if I had ALL his socks in my bag and felt guilty). I wondered how he was without me. We cuddled and laughed and coo'd for 4 months since he was born. And one day, I had to leave him. Now, a few weeks into my job, I am confident in saying, while the guilt doesn't dissipate, and you will always think of him- it will get better as the days go by. I'm better now than I was in my first week-albeit I have my emotional moments in the wellness room, looking at his pictures when I should be working, and handling my madela bag that I've grown to love-hate).

So here goes the list. Feel free to add!

  1. Take photos with you, frame them and be proud of your MAMA-ness... videos and all. I also downloaded SKYPE. Some private caretakers are willing to have you skype with your child once or twice a day. I did it for one full week before realizing (a) this was ALL for me, and he was perfectly happy and fine drooling on the iPad without my giddy face- and didn't even know what he was doing (b) I couldn't just keep distracting myself from work and crying/laughing at this chosen path of life. I don't need skype anymore, but I do request the occasional pictures and videos (and make my co-workers watch-- thank Josh). 
  2. Prepare your caretaker of your specific needs and wants so you are all on the same page and everyone is comfortable. Everyone has different styles but keeping up a line of communication is key. I am blessed to have Z be handled by my in-laws. He adored them from the beginning because of early exposure. If you have to put your child in daycare, take them a few times before you start work so its a surrounding they're somewhat (even vaguely) familiar with. You don't want your already crazy first morning to be EVEN more emotional because of the endless crying. I recommend you send the husband to do the job the first week and tell him to LIE to you and say the baby was so happy to be with all the colors and toys and didn't cry a peep-- (white lies are allowed in Islam.. right?).
    1. BF moms: 
    • START your stash early. You don't want to be going day by day and just have enough pumped milk to take you to the following day. Emergencies happen, long work days, train delays-- don't put yourself or your baby in a position without milk or without having the care-taker unnecessarily jump to formula.  Don't forget the ENORMOUS benefits BF has on your child's brain development, level of closeness, protection against many sicknesses. It doesn't matter if your baby is a tiny one- if he poops, plays, sleeps well, HE'S HEALTHY and the Pediatrician even likened my little peanut to "excellent health" while everyone else thinks its "kamzori" or weakness. If only they saw the developments of my little man (hoisting himself up, rolling, crawling and everything else). Alhamdulillah. Do you.  
    • If you purchased a pump, get a handheld manual one for home so you can periodically pump when you don't feel like carrying the whole big pumping back during your commute. I also contacted my insurance and was able to get a free double-pump madela to leave at home for FREE. Feel free to donate one of them when you are done with BF (or save it for when you have more children, God-willing).
    • If you are doing formula, I'd recommend supplementing maybe a week before work. From women that I know, their advice is to get your child used to it instead of doing it cold-turkey and finding out the baby wont accept it. 
  4. BUY A CROCK POT! I will plan on using this all of November/December/January-- This thing makes your fall season one of warmth and joy-- and helps cook amazing delicious meals. It's amazing for working moms-- find a recipe and prepare ingredients at night, wake up a little earlier in the day before work and throw the ingredients in the crock pot and leave it on low all day. You will come home to a house that smells better than anything Yankee Candle can produce and you will love the tenderness and flavor that comes from slow-cooked meals. 
  5. Make sure you find a nice routine for you and your baby to bond at night! My baby and I LOVE to read and "talk." He lays close and sometimes just doing that is enough. He mumbles, garbles and really tries to respond to my questions. He picks up on sounds and words that you say repeatedly. I think it has to do with reading with him since he was very young. Make sure you have some communication time with him instead of just cuddling to sleep-- you want that meaningful interaction. Take them away in a quiet area, hold them tight and relish every second you have him with them. Time FLIES but make the time you have unforgettable.
  6. Make weekend plans! It's for your sanity as the working mom and for the baby's social well-being. It will take "play time" to a whole new level and makes each weekend memorable for you and the baby. Get yourself ready, take the baby out so they have outside play time. If he's home or in daycare all day, nature is important. My father-in-law takes him in the garden, and we take him to the parks on the weekends and he loves looking around and is learning how to act in public at this young age. It's fall time now so it will reduce a bit, but even taking them to the mall and enjoying that fosters a strong social baby and a good healthy relationship for you and your husband to get out of the house and enjoy life. And have your "dates" for the 1.5 hour they nap.
  7. Make sure your baby has time with Dad. At the earlier stages, all the baby needed was mom. But emotionally the dad has a stake to claim and a heart. Letting go of some "cuddling time" to see my husband's happiness when Z smiled and played with him has been amazing.  Seeing your baby and father bond is all worth it. The smiles from both of them are unbeatable. 
  8. GET AMAZON PRIME or AMAZON MOM! I'm sure you realized this during your pregnancy since you ordered all those balms, creams, built your registry after checking reviews, made a wish-list, etc. etc. But it has seriously put me in a very involved situation with my baby. I'm on top of all his needs and baby products (toys/books) for the lowest possible price and a 2-day shipping plan. It's worth the $79/year for the free 2-day shipping. The subscribe and save program gives you 20% off additional too. I have diapers, wipes, nature bars for myself, a cream or two and 1-2 other things that change every other month for me. Everything is at your doorstep and you dont need to spend your weekend shopping and losing time with your baby!
  9. Remember why you worked. Remain passionate about it. In my opinion, if you don't ABSOLUTELY love what you do, life is too short to not be with your baby and hate your days at work. Leave that job, find something you do love, and spend time with your baby during that 'search.' Allah has the plan, and you need to go with your gut. 
  10. DON'T JUDGE OTHER WOMEN BASED ON WHETHER THEY STAY AT HOME OR NOT. There are SO many moms who don't feel any need/want to work. We aren't here to form opinions about each other. We need to support one another in all the decisions we make as moms. Our kids are the next leaders-- and if we don't show our girls that women could choose their life path, and show our boys moms are heroes both ways, we are doing a disservice to their understanding of life. 

1 comment:

  1. Insightful post. I'm in awe of you for finding time to write it, as well as balancing work and motherhood. Well done you! X