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the mommyhood memos: back to work: how to prepare for the transition after maternity leave

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

back to work: how to prepare for the transition after maternity leave

By Cameron, author of Ingenue Mom

{This post is part of the Moms Who Work series.}

{cameron and her little angel, isis}

As a first time mom, I’ve felt really lucky to get to stay home these first 7 1/2 months with my daughter, Isis, and really set up our life together. It’s a luxury I won’t have with any future children. I’m a college student studying to be an elementary education teacher. Isis was born in January & I had to postpone my student teaching to the fall. I’m about to start & I’ve found myself a little overwhelmed with the seemingly daunting task of being a working mom. I’ve been doing the best I can to prepare for this new venture & I’m thrilled that Adriel thought some of my ideas may be helpful to other working moms!

First, you must know, I am someone who works best under a schedule. I am not a fly by the seat of your pants kind of girl. Before becoming a mother, I was in school full time & working full time & trying to balance personal relationships & recreational time. It was a tough gig, but it somehow worked. Becoming a mother has definitely thrown me for a loop, but at the same time some of the things that have helped me get through these first few months with some semblance of sanity have been planning ahead & having a routine.

While a true balance between work & home is probably impossible seeing how home will always come first, I believe these strategies will help me get through these coming months with confidence & maybe a little grace.

1 - Look at your time in the week
When are you at work? What regular activities do you have? For me I’ve got student teaching, breastfeeding, a night class on Monday nights, church on Saturday nights & a weekly date night with Lewis on Friday nights. We scheduled in that date night a long time ago when I was working & doing school full time. If you haven’t scheduled a weekly date night, I highly suggest it! We don’t always go out, sometimes it’s just renting a movie to watch together with a glass of wine, but it’s a set part of my week. The trick here is not thinking about all the time you don’t have. Just take a look at your own schedule and focus on the time you do have. Even if it’s just 15 minutes a day - you first have to know what you’ve got to work with.

2 - Think about what you have to do
For me this is housework, feeding Isis, making baby food, cleaning up, writing Lesson Plans, doing a devotional, laundry, grocery, writing blog posts, commenting on other blogs, interacting on Twitter, responding to comments and hanging out with friends or family. Wow this list could look so different for each of us! I just know that if I already have an idea of the regular things I have to do every week, I can think about where I can fit those things into the available time that I have. Things will always come up unexpectedly, but having an initial idea will help you know what to expect from your week.

3 - Prioritize
Certain tasks are more important. Certain things must be done first and certain things just need to be done instead of others. If a lot of stuff comes up & it’s down to either spending an hour with my husband or an hour blogging, then sorry blog friends, but he comes first. But I also know that I want to plan in time for blogging, so I’ve got to prioritize those tasks as well. I find that prioritizing my free time both specifically each day/night & then in a bigger picture throughout the week is helpful. For example, I make Isis’ baby food for the week ahead on Saturdays or Sundays. I know that this has to be done first or she won’t have food for the week. So I do this before I blog or do anything else. Then each day, I need time to do lesson plans, time to blog & time to hang out with Lewis. The time hanging out with Lewis is a big priority, but for us it comes at the end of the evening - usually the last hour before bed. This just works best for both of us. So with the rest of my time, I know that I need to get lesson plans done before blog stuff because while blogging would be a dream career, teaching is a current career plan & I need to make sure I’m doing the best I can! Whatever your tasks are, just prioritize for the week or the day. If you only have 10 minutes one night, what is the most important thing that day that you can do in those 10 minutes?

4 - Make a plan
Once I’ve determined what time I have, what I need to do & what needs to be done first, then I make a plan. For me, this turns into household chores before dinner, then blogging, lesson planning & time with Lewis after Isis is in bed. I could write specific posts about each one of these things. I basically break down cleaning & household chores into what needs to be done daily & can take about 10 minutes & then with the rest of my time (usually an hour), I can do one weekly task per day. Like Tuesday I change the sheets on the beds, Wednesday I wipe down & clean all the sinks, Thursday I dust, Friday I take out the trash, etc. This way I’m not overwhelmed with one big day of cleaning. Then with blogging, I prioritize those things. I want to write posts, comment on other blogs, read posts in my Google Reader, respond to comments, etc. Assigning different tasks to different days makes this seem much less overwhelming as well. For example: Sunday - write posts, Monday - reply to comments, Tuesday - comment on other blogs, etc. I try to do Twitter & read things in my Google Reader everyday on my phone. No matter what this may look like for you, making a plan to where you aren’t doing everything every day will make life a lot easier.

5 - MAKE LISTS!
This just goes as an overall rule for me. Even as I was crafting this post, I think I made 3 different lists. I find it’s helpful to make a list for the week & then post it somewhere you’ll see it regularly like the fridge & then check things off as you get them done. I tend to make my lists pretty specific so that I’m marking things off all the time. Even marking one thing off makes me feel like I really accomplished something!!

Overall, be realistic. I’ve decided that with blogging, I’ve got to cut out a few of the social media things I was trying & rather just focus on the basics. Writing posts, reading posts & commenting. Twitter will probably be low in my priority list because I just don’t have a ton of time. With cleaning, I can’t keep my house spotless. I need to do the best I can & be okay with asking for help or letting some things go. Hopefully I’ll be able to maneuver this fairly well, but I’ll definitely need some encouragement - as we all do whether we are working or staying home! Check back with me in a couple months & we’ll see how this goes when it’s all in action!

Bio: Cameron is the author of Ingenue Mom. She is wife to Lewis, mom to Isis, and currently doing her student teaching in order to become a kindergarden teacher. If she's not hanging out in the classroom, you can find her blogging, reading the Twilight series, or watching Vampire Diaries or the Big Bang Theory.


For further reading in this series:



Dear mommy-friends, these are not only great tips for transitioning moms... they are great for any mom wanting to get more organized! Which one of Cameron's points have you found most helpful? Are you making the transition back to work soon? If so, what are you doing to get ready? Or have you already made that transition? If so, what advice would you give new moms--or any moms--that are getting ready to transition?

hoping to someday be as organized as cameron,



P.S. Don't forget to visit Ingenue Mom if you haven't already!


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adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
do not reproduce without written permission

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8 Comments:

At September 14, 2010 at 1:51 AM , Blogger Livy said...

I have to go back to work soon :(

I am probably going to rely on lists to get anything done. How I am actually going to leave Laney is going to be another thing altogether.

 
At September 14, 2010 at 2:43 AM , Blogger Casey Martinez said...

It is SOOOOO hard and emotionally draining to go back to work and leave a little one is someone elses care. I pretty much had to mentally prepare myself for the worst way in advance so that I could better handle the whirlwind. It was just about as hard as I thought it would be but, then in some ways it was easier which was refreshing. Every day is a tough one but, somehow we do it and do it well..even when we are exhausted. These are really great tips!!

 
At September 14, 2010 at 4:29 AM , Blogger flyrish said...

I'm really impressed by how organized you are. I need to follow your advice, especially in regards to housework. Thanks for sharing, Cameron!

 
At September 14, 2010 at 5:27 AM , Anonymous Lindsey said...

I am definitely a list and chart person ever since becoming a mom of three. Thanks for sharing your secrets to staying sane Cameron LOL

 
At September 14, 2010 at 6:57 AM , Anonymous Jessica said...

Really great post! I love seeing other working moms sharing how they make it all happen. Thanks for your tips!

 
At September 14, 2010 at 7:47 AM , Blogger Greta said...

I cried SO hard my first day back to work. It was a completely unproductive day. I think it's important for a mom to know that's ok. These are great tips for a first time back to worker!

 
At September 14, 2010 at 1:49 PM , Blogger vanita said...

This is a great post. Cameron's definitely changed my way of thinking with this. I'll try it and also hope to one day be as organized as her, cause she definitely gets a lot done.

 
At September 15, 2010 at 8:30 AM , Blogger Jill said...

Cameron, you're a doll! Mommyhood Memos is lucky to have you guest post :)

 

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