Navigating the Business World as a Younger Mom

Re-entering the workforce as a 25 year-old mom, I act differently and I am perceived differently than when I left. I’m assuming I’m not alone in this, so I’m writing about my experience with the hope that it will help others succeed with strength and grace. 

Observation #1: As a younger mom, almost everyone will assume you don’t have kids. When people do find out you have kids, they will be surprised. Some won’t know what to say, others might say something rude. Don’t be offended. 

Observation #2: When I’m at home, I have to be sure of myself to either convince my daughter everything is ok or that I won’t budge when I say something is off limits. This has translated into me being much more assertive and demanding at work. Many times, I have had to take a step back before sending an email or talking with a colleague to make sure I’m not coming off in a way that would offend someone, especially considering my level of expertise. 

Taking all of this into mind, I think it’s very important to stay positive and aware. People around you will read, and feed off of, the energy you present. Remind yourself to be patient. (Especially when the 10th person comments on “how young you are” and “they never realized you had kids”) Keep your chin up – people assume things about the people around them all the time. It’s the way the brain can make sense of things. 

I believe it’s possible to be a great mom and a great employee. It won’t come right away, or maybe for a long time. I’m definitely still working at it but I can say approaching each day with an open mind and the will to be positive has helped me feel like I’m headed in the right direction. 

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Unexpected Things That Made Going Back to Work Easier

I’ve been a working mom for almost a month now. I’ll be the first to admit it has been really hard leaving my 14 month old baby, Sadie, and my puppy, Wally, after being their main caretaker for so long. Here are a few unexpected things I found that made the transition easier:

1. It’s a lot easier to be away when you have a caretaker you trust.

We lucked out with our nanny. Everyone warned me I wouldn’t be able to find a good nanny right away so I was nervous about it. Our nanny is also a mom, a grandmother, and used to be a kindergarten teacher. She was the only nanny I interviewed that Sadie smiled at and she was the only one who got on the ground to play with Sadie. At first she was a little timid with Wally, but after a few days of shadowing I saw she could handle him and he started to calm down around her.

*If you decide to return to work and keep your baby and puppy at home (as opposed to day care), it’s important that your care taker can handle both the baby and the puppy. This way you come home to a happy nanny and happy little ones.

Since our nanny started full-time, Sadie and Wally both have transitioned well to me working. Each day, the nanny gives me a sheet describing how the day went. She’s overall such a nice person and I’ve had little to no problems with how she runs the house when I’m gone.

2. You get your routine down.

The first week or so the mornings were a mess because I wasn’t used to getting ready and taking care of Sadie in such a short time. My husband and I re-adjusted our responsibilities until we found something that worked. Now that we’ve done it consistently, everything runs a lot smoother. Plus, Sadie and Wally have become accustomed to the new morning routine.

3. The crying stops.

The first two weeks Sadie cried as I was leaving. To make it worse, one or two times I forgot something, so I had to go back inside and hear her really crying. That was awful and broke my heart. Driving away on those days was one of the harder things I’ve done.

Then, the nanny had a great idea to let Sadie watch my husband and I walk outside through the window and have us wave at each other. This let her say goodbye again and see us get into our cars which she somehow finds comforting. I forgot something another time after we started this routine (Mrs. Forgetful over here) and Sadie was happily playing with the nanny – no crying.

4. The hugs.

Ever since I started work, both Sadie and Wally have been a lot more loving. In the morning, right when Sadie wakes up she likes to cuddle for 10-15 minutes in her rocking chair. She always hugs me goodbye before I leave for work and when I get home from work, she runs up to me with the biggest smile that melts my heart and gives me a big hug. Wally is also so excited when I come home he can barely contain himself. He’s really sweet to me at night and will lay on my feet or come put his head on the couch to say hello. I really didn’t expect this one and it makes me so happy.

Although going back to work is still tough when you leave little ones at home, I promise you’ll find good things too! Feel free to share anything you or your friends have found in the comments section. 🙂

Jobs

I recently had to make a tough decision a lot of new moms make: Do I go back to work?

Since our family started when we were in our early 20’s, we don’t have much in the way of savings. My husband and I were also accustomed to 2 incomes so subtracting 1 income and then adding 2 new members to our family made it so we always felt strapped for cash. In addition, my husband and I are planning to buy a home in the next couple years so we can (a) have more space for Sadie and Wally to play and (b) not have to tip toe around at night. And, I missed working and seeing adults. These were the reasons I decided it would be best for me and my family if I got a job. (Despite my heart feeling very anchored at home with my little ones.)

DSC00721Once I started my search, there were 3 important qualifications I had to have to justify leaving home:

-The salary had to cover the cost for a nanny with money leftover
-Relatively close location
-Flexible work hours

I will be the first to admit, it is HARD to motivate yourself to apply for jobs after taking care of a baby and a puppy all day. I set a manageable goal of 1 job per night (I wrote cover letters for each application) and would apply right after Sadie fell asleep so I could have “me time” after I submitted my application. I was also able to network with some family friends which helped me at least get interviews instead of continually adding my resume to the stack.

When I was asked to interview, I always coordinated with my mom’s schedule (who lives in-town) to respond with times I was available. This way, my mom could watch Sadie during the interview so I could focus and be professional. Typically, I would bring Sadie to my mom’s so Wally would stay home in his crate. I kept rotating the toys in his crate so he would have something new to chew while we were away. Only one time did this go terribly wrong (see below) because we were gone for a long time and I didn’t padlock his crate. Lesson learned.

After about 5 months of searching, I accepted an offer! At first, I was very excited. And then my emotions can be summarized extremely well by this excerpt from What to Expect: “Guilt that you’re leaving your baby. Relief to be away from your baby. Guilt that you’re feeling relieved to be away from your baby. Missing your baby [already].” Luckily for me, I have a few weeks before my start date to spend a little more time with Sadie (and Wally) and find them a nanny we’re all comfortable with to help make the transition easier.

 

Have you recently started a job search while being a stay-at-home mom? Did you go back to work after staying home? Please share your stories and any tips in the comments section!