Alice came to me concerned about how she was going to keep breastfeeding once she returned to her full-time career. In her workplace, there is no such thing as 9-5. Everyone is expected to put in long days. I talked to her about asking for what she needed and setting some limits. We also talked about creative ways to meet her baby’s needs. She took my suggestions and ran with them—developing her own, unique style. Many thanks to Alice for sharing how she has managed to maintain her breastfeeding relationship and continue her fast-paced work life.
Christian is a big, healthy boy who is now enjoying solid foods in addition to mommy’s milk. Here is her success story:
I asked for what I needed: leaving at 5. I told my boss when I got back from leave that I couldn’t stay till 7 anymore. I leave the office promptly at 5 (most days). I’m home by 5:20 and have 2.5 solid hours with my son. We read and play. I serve him dinner, give him a bath if it’s bath night, then put him to bed. This solid block of time in the evenings is what makes the separation okay for me. Once he goes to sleep, I get back online and work for as long as I need to.
I maximize the mornings. I don’t have to leave for work till about 9. Christian gets up about 7 and I get him from his crib. We nurse, then I take him into our bed and we all cuddle and play. It’s precious time. I shower the night before, after my son goes to sleep, so I have as much time as possible in the morning with him.
I maximize the evenings. After Christian goes to sleep, I do a lot- get back online and work, call friends, paperwork, cook, etc. My son is a good sleeper and I take advantage of that. I tell everyone: I live a lifetime in the evenings.
I maximize the weekends. Saturday is our activity day. I see a friend with a baby or take him shopping. Sunday is our church / home day. One day a week (when I have no obligations), we go to church and then stay home all day.
I work from home when I can. On slow days around holidays, bad weather days, or sometimes just because, I work from home. Though I can’t interact with my son 100%, I am still “in the home” and therefore present. Plus we take nursing breaks together. I try to work from home once every 3 weeks or so to steal a day at home.
I stay in charge. One of the problems for me being apart from Christian was a concern he would get off his schedule or things wouldn’t be done how I like them to be done. I have a great babysitter who does everything I ask- she even keeps a log of the day. We stay in touch some days via text and I will tell her when to wake Christian up from naps, how much extra food to give him, etc. Every morning, I leave his bottles and pre-make his lunch dish. It makes me happy knowing things are still being done for my child the way I want them done.
I have the hospital grade pump at work. I pump 3 times a day at work. I have a rental pump in my office. I put a little “do not disturb” sign on my door, lock it and get to pumping. I keep a small cooler in the office and bring 2 ice packs with me everyday. I use my Flexible Spending Account to pay for the pump rental each month. The pump at work makes pumping fast and easy. It’s so quiet, I can pump right in my office.
I have help with everyday housework. We have a babysitter about 15 hours a week. My husband takes care of Christian the rest of the time. I have her do my son’s laundry or vacuum or straighten up the kitchen sometimes. Though small, this saves me up to 20 minutes a day, which is actually huge.
I have a cleaning lady. This is a must. Every 3 weeks my house is cleaned from top to bottom- I almost never have to clean.
I put him to bed every night. Every night of my son’s life, with the exception of maybe 2 or 3, I have been the one who puts him to sleep. It’s a constant: him and me in his dimly lit room nursing. I sing to him. I can count on this time everyday.
I have a strong partner. My husband is an amazing, hands-on father. He is with Christian mornings and all day Wednesday. We share everything: child care, house work, etc. He is much of the reason I’m such a happy working mom.
I feel I have enough time with my son and I also feel validated because I’ve maintained my own sense of “self” by going to work everyday. The funny thing is, every evening when I get home, I change into sweats, pull my hair back, and switch to baby talk. Instantly, I am “mommy”- it’s like I never left the house. It’s pretty amazing. For me, keeping my career is important. Doing all of the above has made being a working mom very manageable for me. I feel incredibly lucky and blessed.
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Alice discovered what works for her and her family. What has worked for you? Do you have “tricks” to share that help you juggle your home/baby life with work and career goals? Please feel free to comment and share your story! Or, if you need help to create a personalized, back-to-work plan, contact Renee for a phone consultation.