Earlier this year, I went back to work after spending 15 months at home with my daughter and a handful of various foster babies. After more than a year out of the work force, I finally felt like my brain was ready to tackle more than diapers and bottles. Once I got a job, there were so many things I thought I had to do before going back to work after having my baby. It turns out, only half of them were truly necessary (or even possible).
After more than a year away from my work writing and blogging, I craved using my brain for more than just creating baby schedules. Both my partner and I felt our daughter was ready for the socialization of daycare. I took this awesome job writing part-time, and picked up another part-time role working with ELL students at a local school teaching and tutoring English. Life was about to get super busy very quickly, and I knew I had to get all of us prepared. My list was long and ambitious for the short period of time before I had to start working and my daughter had to start daycare. From rearranging our household duties to weaning her from her pacifier, some of the things we needed to do were more realistic than others. For instance, creating more hours in the day might have been a little aspirational, to say the least.
What I've learned, however, is that no matter how much of your to-do list you manage to check off before you start work, there's still going to be a transition period. So, for all you moms heading back to work soon, here's what I thought I had to do before I started again that you are, in no way, obligated to finish before that big day. In the end, you do what you can do, and leave the rest to work itself out.
Squeeze My Daughter A Million Times
My daughter was about to go from being with me every hour of every day, to spending six hours every day at a little local daycare. I felt like I had to squeeze her every single second I possibly could, before we were both deprived of those hours together. So, I did.
Truth is, though, it didn't matter. I still missed her during the hours she was away, but I still got plenty of time with her every morning and in the evening.
Wean My Daughter From Her Pacifier
I'm not much of a germaphobe, but I just couldn't kick the image of that pacifier getting robbed by another kid and tested out in his or her mouth without a daycare provider noticing. Plus, 15 months is more than old enough to lose it. We went cold turkey and, while it was painful for a few days, I was much more relaxed sending her to daycare.
Get My Daughter Completely Settled At Daycare
Before I started work, I did want my daughter to get settled into daycare. I didn't want to be starting two new roles while also worrying about whether she was settling in or dropping a screaming child in the morning and crying in my car before heading to work. In reality, she was about half-settled before I started work, and there was a little crying in the car for about a week. I was glad we started her early to get settled, but we could have used another week.
Practice Our New Routine
I couldn't remember the last time I had to get myself looking extra presentable and have my daughter packed and out of the house on time. Literally every Sunday we are late for church by at least 20 minutes. I thought we had to practice getting ready for the mad dash out of the house, and we absolutely did. We've only been late a handful of times, so I'm just going to count this one as a success.
Become A Master At Meal Planning
I have always been absolutely terrible at meal planning, mostly because I'm never sure what I want to eat until that day. Most of our meals involve throwing something together with whatever meat and vegetables are in the fridge. Despite my best efforts at planning meals, that's still what we've got. There's still a last minute throw-together meal for dinner on most nights. If you are a better meal planner, I definitely envy you.
Be Totally OK With Going Back To Work
I thought I had to be totally OK with going back to work before I actually went back to work. I'm not, though, and I'm not sure I ever will be. Some days I love working, and some days it's just a drag and I wish I could whisk my daughter away and take her to the park or give her a snuggle.
I think that's normal. I've given in to the fact that I'm not going to be 100 percent OK with being apart from her, although I'm holding out hope for years to come.
Make A Chore Chart
I thought I had to make a plan to redistribute some of the household tasks I'd been doing for the last year while my husband was working outside of the house. Then, well, I just forgot.
I probably shouldn't have, as I think it would have saved us the giant meltdown on week three, when I realized I couldn't do everything I was doing before in addition to working full-time. We adjusted, though, and I feel much more human now.
Label All My Kid's Clothes
I thought I had to put labels on all my daughter's clothes before she headed to daycare. Turns out, that doesn't seem to be necessary. Sippy cups, definitely, but so far we haven't lost an unlabeled thing.
Create More Hours In The Day
I wish I had managed to accomplish this one, if not just because it would have made me a millionaire. But man, some days I just wish I could have an extra few hours, even if those hours were for sleeping. Life as a working mom is non-stop and just a few extra hours each day would be the key to totally dominating both roles.
In the meantime, and before science catches up with my needs, I've just got to keep reminding myself that good enough is more than enough.