Wednesday, November 14, 2012

20 Coping Strategies for Working Moms



I recently went back to work as a part-time teacher this August.  My daughter was eight month old at the time and it was really rough going from seeing her all day everyday to spending large chunks of time without her (usually 11 hours from the time I leave in the morning until I got back home).  I've been discussing this recently with my blogger friend, Jamie (from For Love of Cupcakes), who recently went back to work as well.  We've been helping each other come up with coping strategies and thought there might be other moms out there interested in them as well.  After you read my ten ideas, make sure you hop over to Jamie's blog to check out ten more.


1. Set aside a special mommy-child time every day (even if it's only 5 minutes).   It is so important (for both you and your sweet pea) to have a few moments to connect one-on-one without any distractions.  This time can take different forms for different families: reading a book together at bedtime, breakfast together before work, a walk right after you get home, etc.  Some days will be harder than others, and it's nice to look forward to the special time you'll soon have with your little love.

2. Exchange lovies with your little one. Give her something special from you (a teddy bear, blankie, etc.) so that a little piece of you is with her all day. Take something special of hers (could also be a stuffed animal, or something else sentimental or cute, like a baby shoe or barrette) and put it on your desk where you can glance at it throughout the day.

3. Leave work at work.  Easier said than done, I know, but it's really important that when you are home with your baby, you are present.  In order to do this, it may mean that you stay a little longer at work to get everything done and/or you have a de-stress routine (hot shower, cup of tea, 15 minutes to read a book, whatever) when you get home before you spend time with your little one. 

4. Find support from other working moms.  Just like any challenging situation, it's helpful to have others who know what you are going through.  Try finding a working mom group in your area through Meetup.com or start your own!  Also a possibility (especially for super busy mamas): find an online forum or group for working moms.   

5. Have a goodbye routine. Often the hardest part of being a working mom is saying goodby to your child when you leave for work. If you are just going back to work, it takes a little while for him to realize you'll be coming back. Start a goodbye routine that will help him remember that every time mommy sings this special song (or says this little phrase or whatever), she comes back later.

6. Create a method of communication with your child's caregiver.  Many daycares give parents a daily sheet with a rundown of the basics: when and how much your little one ate, diaper changes, a few things he did each day.  If your daycare provider doesn't do this, find another way of learning about your child's day.  It not only makes the transition from daycare to home more smooth, it also lets you be a part of your child's everyday activities.

7. Set your priorities.  When you think of your to-do list, sort it into two categories: things that need to be done now and things that can wait.  Focus on the first category and allow those in the second category to be put off until later.  Something that is always on the needs to be done list: cuddling and kissing your sweet pea.

8. Keep a video or audio of your child.  Especially one that captures her giggles.  Steal a quick minute away from work to watch/listen when you are missing her or when you are stressed.

9. Don't compare.  Comparing yourself to other mothers, especially stay-at-home moms, is never a good idea.  You may have less time than a stay-at-home mom to make the house spotless, cook dinner from scratch or make homemade Halloween costumes, but that's okay. These things aren't nearly as important as the love, time, and attention only you can give your child.

10. Be gentle with yourself.  Your child does not need a perfect mother.  He needs a loving, caring mother.  Working outside the home does not prevent you from being able to love and care for your child.    Forgive yourself when you are struggling.  See the good you are doing.  Let go, move on, and love that baby! 


For ten more coping strategies, 
see the partner post at For Love of Cupcakes.


You might also be interested in my Prayer for Working Mothers.

8 comments:

  1. I love the idea of exchanging lovies! So sweet!! <3 You're right - leaving work at work is tricky but definitely something that needs to be done. I'm currently working on this...

    Jamie

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  2. I definitely need to work on not comparing. When I was a SAHM, I was so jealous of working moms! And now that I'm a working mom, I wish desperately to be back at home with my Toddleboy. I need to knock that off and remember that nobody wins when I am envious of someone else. Thanks for this post!

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  3. www.gracelovesiggy.comNovember 15, 2012 at 2:55 AM

    I'm thinking about going back to work soon, and this was great!

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  4. I like these ideas- they sound helpful for those mothers who work outside the home. However, I really do believe the term "working mother" is a misnomer- all mothers work, whether or not they receive a paycheck for it.

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  5. Thanks, Elizabeth. Of course all moms work! I'm not a huge fan of the phrase either, but it seemed a bit to wordy to write "20 Coping Strategies for Moms Who Work Outside of the Home". I think most people will understand what I meant by it.

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  6. Comparison is terrible in all situations, not just mothering! I really struggle with it too!

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  7. As a teacher, it's almost impossible for me to leave work at work. There is always something to be done - papers to be graded, lesson plans to write - and that's not even touching on the emotional baggage teachers bring home!

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