Let me cut to the chase here. I'd LOVE to write a post for you about what we've figured out about making working full time "work" for our family, but that would be a relatively short post because the truth is we're three weeks in and everyday still feels chaotic and like we're making it up as we go. Still, I want to check in here even though I don't have much advice and talk about some things I've noticed during our big transition. Feel free to leave me a comment if you have any suggestions or just want to say "I feel ya."
1.) Everything Takes Longer!
If getting out the door for work pre-kid used to be a "production," now it's a Hollywood action movie in which I star as the comic relief. Everyday I pack my school bag (planner, class folders, and all the stuff that would be in one's purse), my pump bag (with pump, pump parts, and bottles), a cooler (with Willa's milk and my lunch/snacks), my water bottle (I'm SO thirsty, send all the water), and the diaper bag (cause you never know, and that thing has back ups for everything I should remember but probably didn't). Add to that my American Lit II book which weighs so much, and you can see why I don't even know where anything is.
2.) What Was I Saying?
I used to consider myself highly capable at multitasking and remembering everything. Now...wait, what are we talking about? I just need to write things down.
3.) Pumping Ain't Easy
It takes forever. It isn't nearly as effective as nursing. It's a necessary but not fun part of my day. Sometimes, to fit it in, I have to do it in the car while someone stalks my parking spot. At least we have electric pumps.
4.) You Can't Schedule a Baby
I stop by to nurse Willa, but sometimes she's sleeping, and I have to move to plan B (see car pumping). At home, she pretty reliably nursed every 2 hours, but daycare is a different story. You know that saying "expectations are the root of unhappiness"? I'm trying very hard to let go a little and realize that I don't have that much control over the schedule. Not knowing if I'll be able to nurse makes packing bottles and knowing how much to bring tough (especially since I don't want milk to go to waste). While I'd love to say we have a system in place, there's a lot of guesswork, calling the daycare, and sometimes miscommunication involved. I definitely stress about the feeding schedule, especially since Willa seems to hold out until we're together, and full bottles are being sent back home. She has started waking up in the middle of the night again to nurse, and it's often hard for me to fall back asleep.
5.) General anxiety: I got it.
There's what you intellectually know (that your baby is okay) and what you instinctually feel (that it's tough to be apart). One of the biggest hurdles of the last couple of weeks is just getting used to feeling a little anxious. I hope that the "fake it until you make it" rule works. I notice that the busier I am, the better I do.
6.) I'm Probably My Own Toughest Critic
As one of my friends said give yourself some grace. I really should start focusing on everything I DO get done in a day and not be hard on myself over where I fell short. Also, when I'm tired, everything feels more stressful and confusing than it probably should.
7.) I Value Our Time Together SO MUCH
Before I had Willa, I assumed I'd be fine leaving my kid in daycare so I could run errands or workout or whatever. The truth is, I don't like to be apart from her for any time longer than necessary. Brendan feels the same way, and usually one of us can get her by 2PM.
8.) 9PM is the new 11PM.
I can barely keep my eyes open any later.
9.) Leftovers are KEY
After a day at work and an evening taking care of a baby, cooking falls low on the priority list. We've been using our weekends to cook big meals (stuffed peppers, lasagna, quesadillas, chili, pasta sauce) and freezing our leftovers. This helps us keep variation in what we eat each night without having to cook during the week.
10.) I will be LUCKY if I can squeeze in 3 workouts a week.
I can probably get to the YMCA on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Other than that, stroller walks and lugging my ten bags around campus will serve as my exercise.
11.) Put a bouncy chair in your bathroom. This is the best idea ever. You can dance and keep your baby entertained while brushing your teeth. I don't know how you'd get ready otherwise.
12.) Keep a burp cloth in ALL YOUR BAGS. Save your work clothes.
One thing that does help me is reminding myself that each phase is fleeting. I will enjoy the good parts and remind myself that she won't be a baby forever when it all feels overwhelming. Being apart from Willa is tough, but when I teach, I'm in my element. Most days, the time goes by quickly, and I love getting her back in my arms.
When did you make the big transition back to work and how did you survive?