For many new moms, transitioning from a full-time, successful career to staying home with a baby can be a bit of a shock. Maybe you spent years climbing up the corporate ladder. And perhaps you’ve achieved great professional success.
So, what happens now?
It’s easy to feel like you’ve lost a piece of your identity when you have a new baby, and you’re used to working a full-time job. The most important thing you can do is decide what you want to do and who you want to be after your child is born.
Maybe you’ll eventually want to go back to work. Or, maybe you’ll go back to work right away after maternity leave. Some women choose to leave work completely and become a stay-at-home-mom.
Whatever you decide, there are things you can do to make the title transition easier.
Allowing Flexibility in Your Career Path
For some moms, there is the option of being your own boss. It can be scary because there are obvious pros to working for a company. But the benefit of working for yourself is that you can set your own hours and have greater flexibility to be there for your family, on your own terms.
If you put in years of work to find success in your career, you may be struggling with the idea of leaving your job or changing career paths. If it’s a decision you have to make soon, there are some important things to consider.
For starters, don’t be afraid to put yourself first. That might seem selfish after having a baby, but it’s not. If you won’t be truly happy without your career, you’re doing yourself and your family an injustice.
Picture all options: What would it look like if you went back to work after your child was born? What would it look like if you stayed home? And what would it look like to be your own boss? Consider each scenario and decide which one you think would make you truly happy.
Embrace Going Back to Work
Of course, there are plenty of other reasons some moms choose to go back to work after having their kids. One of the biggest reasons is the financial burden. Many households need two incomes to afford living expenses. If your job has quality health insurance and other benefits, that can also help your whole family.
Also, think about your career goals. Some women get out of a career for a few years while their children are young, jumping back into it when they reach school age. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to pick up where you left off. This is especially true in the corporate world. Things change rapidly, and you should consider the advancements you could be giving up if you take a few years off
Practice Being Fully Present
Having children will certainly realign priorities. You may feel awkward or guilty that you would rather be at home with your little one than in a business meeting or at the office. Or you may find the company culture you have enjoyed for so long is not as family friendly as you thought.
Some moms also find their mind wandering back to the office when they are with their baby and feel guilty about not being fully present. The key here is to practice being fully present where you are at the moment. If you are at work, be fully present at work. If you are at home, be fully present at home.
To Trade Or Not to Trade
If you’re still on the fence about whether you should go back to work or stay at home with your new baby, that’s okay! Understand that there are pros and cons to both options, and there is no one “correct” choice.
To trade your title from “executive” to “mom” takes a lot of mental strength. You maybe missing out on work that motivates you, adult conversation, mental stimulation, and much more. Furthermore, taking care of a baby by yourself all day can be emotionally and mentally taxing. For many women, choosing to stay home can actually motivate them even more, since it’s a new “type” of work that changes a little bit each day.
On the other hand, there are many benefits to trading in your briefcase for a diaper bag. You’ll always be there for your child, have a consistent routine, and see life from a different perspective.
Remind yourself that raising children is only a handful of years out of your life and career and that being a mom is only part of who you are as a person - you are more complex than one single identity.
Right now, in the moment, your identity as mom may be the most important and the responsibilities endless, but all things eventually end. Finding the balance to tend to those things most important first while having bandwidth to build the other areas of your identity is key. And it also can take trial and error to find it. But when you find it, you will know.
Struggling on whether you should go back to work or stay home? Or, are you worried you’ll lose your career-driven identity once your baby is born? Together, we can talk more about your options and how to transition from a busy career to the never-ending job of motherhood. To learn more about how counseling can help you make sense of your new role as a mother, please click here.
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COMING SOON! A workshop for couples who are thinking about or planning to have a baby, who are expecting a baby or who have children already. Based on years of research and experience and developed by the Gottman Institute, this 12 hour workshop is designed to repair communication skills and jump start your relationship with your partner. For more information, please click here.
Jennifer Perera is a mom, spouse and Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has over a decade’s worth of experience in mental health. She has a private practice in New Jersey, with locations in Cranford and Princeton. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual, group and couples counseling. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with a pregnancy loss or infertility. Her other passion is travelling to different parts of the world and her goal is to vacation in a different locale every time. She also has a great fondness for cats!