# 1 Self-care is mandatory.
- An empty cup cannot serve. Taking time for ourselves is crucial to maintain our mental, physical, & spiritual health.
- To stay healthy, we need exercise, a good diet & adequate sleep. That is some tall order when you are running around chasing children & a job! However, we must know (or learn) our limits. We much take time to sleep, rest & relax.
- Alone time is an important part of self-care, especially for those of us who are introverts. Since I am an extrovert, I will admit that it took me a long time to learn to sit still & just be.
- Self-care means trying to decompress throughout the day. You know your limits, mama. When you are overdone & have met those limits, you must pull back & breathe.
- Try to identify what you love. It helps to maintain happiness by loving our pets, doing our hobbies, listening to music, & engaging in outside interests.
- Other things that nourish us include adequate sex with our spouse or partner. It feels good, & intimacy releases all kinds of positive hormones & neurotransmitters.
- Meditation, yoga, & massage are powerful ways to care for yourself. You are entitled to some me time. Self-care is good for you. And will positively affect all aspects of your life!
#2 Maternal guilt is real; all working mothers have it.
- Maternal guilt seems to come from our American cultural notion of being a good (sometimes, a perfect) mother.
- Most of us experience guilt once our first maternity leave ends & we return to work. Time away from your baby can be distressing. It is our first realization that we have allowed someone else to care for our baby. We are quite simply not there.
- Maternal guilt is that pervasive feeling of not doing enough as a parent, or not doing things correctly, or being absent from your child too much.
- Most of our working mother friends feel maternal guilt, too. It is helpful to share these thoughts & feelings as we support each other.
- Working mothers are required to make trade-offs – ones that we did not anticipate. A major trade-off is missing milestones in your child’s life. You will struggle with schedules & work assignments to be there for most of the important events in our child’s life, usually school & sporting events.
- The more children you have the more you will struggle to make accommodations. Accept that many of their milestones may be missed.
- Sharing participation at school & sporting events with your spouse is mandatory. You may need to delineate which events you each will cover.
#3 All working mother struggle with childcare accommodations.
- Struggling with childcare accommodations can feel like the bane of our existence.
- We cannot go to work, do work, accomplish things with infants & children underfoot (except in a pandemic).
- Our job security comes from our child’s caregiver, whether she is your mother-in-law, your own mother, a nanny, a babysitter, a day care center, or a preschool.
- No matter what type of caregiver, she is not you. She will do things differently from you. You must breathe, accept this fact, & allow her to help you (provided you have given her clear instructions). And then, she might still do things differently.
- If you struggled to pick the best daycare center or preschool, you must trust that they also want what is best for your child. They will send your sick child home from school for a reason.
- I was fortunate to afford to full-time nannies over the years (each worked for our family three to four years). When the kids were older, we had several part-time nannies. Each was different, but each did her best to help me.
- Two of my partners had husbands who were stay-at-home dads. Now, they were lucky & they totally felt secure. My husband would never give up medicine to stay at home with children. Would yours?
#4 Always engage your husband or partner with family & childcare responsibilities.
- It helps to make lists & compare your list to your partner’s. Write it all down – everything.
- Many of us working mothers are good at organization. We keep things in order, neat & tidy. The play dates, the sleepovers, the sports events, the teacher gifts, the orthodontist appointment (just to name a few). Some of these will not even register on his list. Beware of becoming a helicopter parent.
- If you are contributing more than 60% of all the household jobs & activities, you will self-combust. Prior to the flames, you may begin to resent your husband, or spouse.
- Again, make lists & compare lists. Try to divide jobs & activities fairly. You will be surprised at what your spouse can accomplish. But beware. He will not do things the way you like; but he will do the things you ask & he agrees to do. You must accept this.
#5 Sometimes, while occupied with all our busyness & working, we grow unhappy & unfulfilled.
- Either the job is not right, or your co-workers are not right, or your location is not right, or your marriage is out of whack.
- Sometimes you become so busy, so consumed with work, that you lose yourself. You forget to take time to refresh & renew.
- Your job can overtake who you are personally & cause you to leave behind your best mothering intentions, your children, your marriage, & other activities outside of work.
- Or your job prompts you to grow critical or mean-spirited; you find that something at work is always wrong. You may stop eating & lose weight or begin eating too much. You may stop sleeping from all your worries. You may find yourself unable to focus or make decisions.
- Or you may find yourself wanting to give up. These sorts of feelings indicate depression, & for that you will need professional help. You must talk to someone.
- Your husband will need to understand what is going on. He can be a great help in your search for health & happiness. Let him be that & let him support you in your recovery.