I stared out the window after my counselor said those three words: “Nothing is permanent.” Somehow, those words comforted me. If anyone would have told me I’d have such a hard time transitioning back into my career after having my son, I would not have believed it. I love my job.
But, here I am. I feel intense guilt and depression about being away from my son so much. It is an isolating, debilitating feeling. He deserves more time with me, he deserves the world and so much more…..and I feel as if I cannot give that to him.
It does help to know that nothing is permanent. If for some reason it doesn’t work out to stay on my career path, I have options. I can start my own business, go back to school, or research other ways to supplement income. The possibilities are there, and they help when mom guilt creeps in….which is pretty much every day.
Going back to work is insanely difficult postpartum, and there are no easy answers for how to make it better. I still struggle with depression as a result of losing so much time with my son during the work week, but I have at least found some ways to cope and make the most of the time we have together.
Here are the four ways I’ve discovered to make things better:
1. Make morning rituals a meaningful experience. Talk to your baby and tell them how much you love them, talk to them about how much fun they will have today, and really be present for every smile and coo. It has made a difference for me when I do this with my son each morning.
2. Make quality time a priority as soon as you get home from work. Put down your phone, turn off the television and hold your baby, play with them, give them your undivided attention for at least 30 minutes after arriving home. It’s an acknowledgement of the importance of quality time and makes both of you feel better. My son always wants me to hold him when he comes home, and it helps both of us to have that bonding time as soon as we are able to do so at the end of the day. If it’s not possible to sit down with baby for 30 minutes, keep baby in their bouncy seat in the kitchen while cooking dinner, talk to baby about what you are doing – and do not watch television.
3. Plan weekends around quality family time. No matter what needs to get done over the weekend, make quality family time the top priority. Even if you stay home and play and read to your baby on a rainy day, that counts. In fact, that has been one of the best ideas for quality time in our house.
4. Plan a vacation day to spend with your baby. Even if all you do is walk around the mall with baby in the stroller or go to a local park, it doesn’t matter as long as it is quality time with baby. It isn’t always an option to take a day off, but I find that doing it whenever I can is a great way to increase quality time and decrease depression.
What are some ways you have navigated through the mom guilt of returning to work? Please share in the comments below!
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