Returning to Work: Advice for New Parents
Eight weeks after returning from my maternity leave, I hit my lowest low. I found myself sitting in the empty tub, fully-dressed, sobbing that I just couldn’t balance all my new responsibilities on my own. It was in that moment that I threw my hands up in defeat. And that’s when God spoke to me, saying “Okay Kate, now I can show you how to get through this transition”.
Give Yourself Time
Whether you are starting a new job or going back to the work after time off it is important to allow yourself time to get acclimated to your new situation. I often tell people starting a position that it takes at least six months to learn the ins and outs of a job. The same was true for me when my daughter was born. The learning curve was steep and there were days when things were forgotten both at home and at work. I specifically remember double booking myself and having two clients show up at the same time while I was on the phone with the daycare. In those moments you have to pause, take a deep breath, and give yourself grace. Each day is an opportunity to learn from the last.
Develop A Strong Support System
As my husband and I transitioned into our jobs we have found that balancing work commitments and family can be time consuming and finding community does not come so easily. Since he is in ministry and I do care work, it has been crucial for us to find friendship outside of our work environments. The only way we have been able to build upon our marriage, be our best for our daughter, and care for those we serve is to take time to ask for help. We do this through developing friendships, activities, and even seeking professional help. We are wired for connecting with others. I am an off-the-charts introvert functioning in an extroverted profession and this can be difficult for me. However, I have seen that I am at my best when I am with others where I can be myself, share common experiences or goals, and ask for help in I need to.
Embrace Your Call
In my work as a career counselor I often help people process through their understanding of calling. I feel that this word gets tossed around a lot in Christian circles and that most people begin to feel overwhelmed with the idea of “calling.” One thing that I had to learn through my journey into becoming a working mom was that God had called me to motherhood just as He had called me to be a helper. With the emphasis of calling often times being tied to vocation, it is important for both men and women who have children to accept that we can be called to be a parent just as much as we have been called to our work role. The birth of my daughter was a miracle and a child that we waited a long time for, so it was difficult for me to jump back into my professional role. When I was not with Adleigh I would wonder if I was missing out with her and vice versa at work. I was able to surrender when I welcomed the idea that I could do both well.
Take A Moment for Yourself
Having an outlet is a great way to get through a new experience. I found that having a routine when I got to work was one of the most significant parts to making these last few months manageable. When I arrived at work, I would read a short devotion and then I kept a journal where I wrote a letter to my daughter everyday. Some letters were about her accomplishments, some reflected how I missed her during the day, and others were my own hopes that, one day, she would be proud that I was pursuing something that I loved to do. Those short few moments would be just what I would need to get through the day. Self-care is imperative whether you have been through a recent change or not.
These times of disequilibrium are make-or-break it moments for our faith. I have had many days feeling far from the Lord until I thought about which one of us moved. For as much as I prayed frazzled prayers in my first few days as a mama and my first few days back to work, I knew there needed to be more. My faith journey has always been about God being the only constant in my life and that is even more true to me during seasons of change. As the Lord has constantly told me throughout my time of transition: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.” Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)