It's Back-to-Work Season
It’s Back-to-School season. But for many, after working from home or taking a break from the workforce for the past year and a half, it is also back-to-work season.
I have personally been at home since I was pregnant with my son last year at the height of the pandemic. After he was born, my Postpartum Depression made it difficult for me to be motivated to look for jobs. I was also afraid that if I had gotten the job, that I would have to take too many days off for mental health reasons, or fall behind on deadlines, and I wanted to be at the top of my game. Now that my son is almost a year old, I have been able to put myself out there with confidence, and I landed a dream remote role that gives me all of the flexibility that I need to handle life. I am so fortunate that my husband’s job has been able to support us while I took the time that I needed to recover. I don’t know how I would have been able to do this before I was ready.
While I am so excited to start, there are several things that needed to be in place for me to feel like I was making the right decision in taking this new job. I wonder if any other mothers reading this feel the same way!
1 - Reliable, Affordable and Safe Childcare
I was not going to take this job unless I knew that I had reliable childcare, either at a daycare or with a family member. I have stayed at home with my son for almost an entire year, and I sometimes feel like only I am able to take care of him in the best way. To make working a reality, childcare is one of those things you have to feel comfortable delegating.
The cost is also a major factor. When we were in Chicago, it was $2000 per month for childcare at the daycares by our home. That would have been higher than our mortgage payment! It makes more sense for me to take a full-time job here in South Georgia when full-time daycare is only $150 per week. That makes such a difference in the calculation when deciding whether or not it makes sense to work or stay at home.
2 - Flexible and/or Remote Work
I needed a job that is flexible enough to allow me to work around my child’s schedule. With my current job, the hours I work don’t matter as long as I get the job done. This is awesome because this gives me the freedom to say yes to my family more often and complete my work in the fringe hours (late nights, early mornings), if necessary. I can also be home to take care of my son if he is sick and cannot attend daycare without needing to ask for a whole day off from work.
3 - Self-Care Routine
I know that I need to make time to exercise for me to focus and feel like I am on top of my game. There also needs to be a plan for eating well, getting enough sleep, spending time with friends and family, and having quiet time/bible study. For my mental health and my physical health, this is essential. I was not going to go back to work if I would not be able to block off time for self-care.
4 - Community
This can be a community of mom friends, non-mom friends, family and teachers. We left Chicago and moved down south to be closer to family after realizing how much we needed the support network during the pandemic. It is really hard to take on the stresses of life alone, and it is essential to have people you can depend on for a listening ear or a helping hand.
5 - Having Time to Go to Church Services
In Chicago, it was really tough to make it to church every week. I was a medical student at the time, and I had odd-hour shifts and weekend shifts that were exhausting. Either I could not physically be there because I was at the hospital, or I was too tired to go because of my long hours. I did not want to take a job that was going to drain me to the point where I wouldn’t be able to nurture my spiritual health.
I came up with this list of non-negotiables because I did a lot of self-evaluation and decided where my boundaries are. Your boundaries may be different, and that’s okay. It is just important to have mental fences around the things that are most important to you, so that you can accept opportunities without compromising your core values.
I realize that a lot of these are luxuries that many moms are not able to have access to, especially the flexible or remote working opportunities. However, having a good support network in place will make the transition so much smoother. Now for the hardest part of back-to-work season: the first day. I am probably going to cry when I drop my son off at daycare, but I know he will be fine and working full time is the best thing I can do for my family right now.