Dear Millennial Mom: You. Got. This.
Can We Have It All?
The simple answer to this question is, Yes.
What to expect as a working mom:
Throughout the different stages of creating and raising a child, your career may take some hits —but it does get easier as your children get older. Keeping mental health in mind, a child's needs are forever changing, and the time needed to spend with them varies at each developmental stage. It is very possible to have a successful career and a family, however, it will come with a cost. The extra time you put in at work to advance your career, will result in the loss of time spent with your family. Likewise, the extra time it takes to create and raise a family will result in loss of time spent advancing your career. Either options are bittersweet to say the least.
Here’s a brief breakdown of what to expect—at different stages—as a working mom:
Working While Pregnant
Every pregnancy is different, however, generally speaking, for the first 3 months, you are going to be TIRED! Although, you may have less energy than usual in the beginning, most likely, you will still be able to carry on with work as usual with little impact on your job - if all is well.
The Last 6 Months of Pregnancy - In a Nutshell
Save your sick time and vacation days because you may need them. Doctor visits increase during the last 2 trimesters of pregnancy, which may cause you to miss many days at work. It is important to have an employer who is understanding, and won’t make you jump extra hoops to take unexpected days off, which can cause added stress. Aslo, your body will be going through many changes. Even though, mentally you may feel up to certain tasks, your body may feel otherwise. Listen to your body and slow down/rest when needed. Don’t try to over exert yourself trying to keep up with your work life pre-pregnancy.
Pregnancy shouldn’t be used as an excuse to get out of doing work, but, the effects of physical and emotional stress on your body and baby are very real. Advocate your needs and work with your employer to implement a comfortable work environment. With that said, your career will most likely be transitioning to the back seat, as you prepare to welcome and raise new life.
How much time off you need from work after the baby is born is up to you, but typically, employers give 3 months for moms and about 2 weeks for dads. With all the time that will be spent away from work, it’s important to talk to your employer about sick days, medical appointments and maternity leave earlier on in your pregnancy. This will help to avoid any conflict and unexpected financial hardships. During this time, your career may be the furthest thing from your mind as you get to know your new baby and recover from giving birth.
Unfortunately, 3 months goes by very quickly and whether you are prepared or not, you will need to start thinking about transitioning back into work. What does that would even look like? Here are some things to consider; Childcare - start with family if you can, not only will you save, but often times, family can be flexible with pickup and drop off times, giving you extra time to stay at work or run errands if needed. If you are breastfeeding, consider when and where it will happen, can your employer accommodate the space to do so? If not, call your employer and work out a plan prior to returning. You may also need to consider new work hours - including transition times; How long will drop offs and pick-ups take?
Returning to Work Postpartum
Now that you are back at work, you will most likely need more time off for scheduled and unscheduled doctors appointments, but hopefully you were able to work out a plan prior to returning to work. The first 3 years of a child's life are vital to a child's development. This is the time where they need the most nurturance. As a new mom, you may have the urge to be with your child at every moment so you don’t miss a milestone. In my opinion, the internal conflict of having a career or raising a healthy child will begin to set in at this time. From age 3 months - 5 years old, most parents have to decide whether they want to work full time and put their child through daycare for 8 hours or more a day, work part-time, or stay at home - given you have a choice.
It is very possible to achieve success in your career and have a family but it may also mean that your child is spending more time with another caregiver and less time with you. As your child ages it may get easier to focus more on your career, especially as your child reaches school age and gets involved in extra-curricular activities. So stay encouraged, ask for help and remember you are not alone in this process.
Sophir is a Freelance Blogger, Momprenuer, and Co-Founder of CESF, a non-profit organization that promotes academic success and career development for under-served students and young adults.
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