In the 11 years that I’ve been a Mom I have worked part-time, no-time and now full-time. I only know one thing, that they are ALL hard. Every single last one of them! I would even lean on saying that staying home full-time might be the hardest. This post isn’t about which is better or worse but about my last 5 months thrust back into hard core corporate America, how I managed and any funny pieces of advice I can share.
Back in January of this year I found myself at a crossroads thinking if I wanted to have a rewarding and fulfilling career when my children are grown and in college then I better start thinking about going back to work soon. I had been really nervous up until January, but like some things in life I had this little voice in my head telling me it was something I had to try. Sometimes you can’t knock it until to try it.
The interview process at big companies is long, painful and excruciating. It’s funny, during the interview process I was so worried about having to defend my last four years at home doing “nothing” that I had all my reasons carefully scripted in my head ready to fire. The surprising thing about my interviews was that staying home was not something I ever had to defend. Everyone that interviewed me got it. So don’t listen to the negative people that tell you will never be about to reenter the workforce if you take some time off for your family. Those negative nellies don’t know what they are talking about.
Like many of my life changes I try to tackle it with humor and support from my girlfriends. One of my successful career minded girlfriends told me to expect the worst and don’t be surprised if I was bone tired the first few months. Like so tired I stayed in pjs all weekend and drank straight from the milk cartoon kind of tired. Kerri had just completed her first year back to teaching full-time with three kids at home and she told me that she thinks she got through the year on pure adrenaline alone. She told me the hours at work weren’t the problem, but the hours before and after that were the most challenging. Boy that’s so true. And one of best pieces of advice I got was from a very close friend that told me “Yes, there will be some very long and very challenging days, but you can absolutely do it. I have full faith in you that you can rise to that challenge”. That piece of advice stuck and I went for it.
Some of my funny and heartfelt pieces of advice when contemplating such a change or endeavor would be:
Hire good care and a lot of it – I joke that I had to hire three people to take my place at home but honestly I think three might not be enough. I had to hire someone to take care of Eve (daycare), someone to pick up the boys after school and someone to even take care of the dog. Some days I feel like my phone is like command central checking in on all of them. I looked for the best care I could possibly find and I have to say the care I have has been spot on. They are such great people and super reliable. If they weren’t so wonderful I truthfully would not have ever made it. Believe it or not I found them on care.com. It may not always be that way but I’m very thankful it has been so far. I even have some coworkers that use services such as Blue Apron and Home Chef three or four nights a week to help with dinner. This may be my fourth “person” soon.
Plan easy outfits and know what you are wearing the night before – I know people think how does she look put together and stylish with everything she has on her plate, but for me it’s the only thing I can really control. Lord knows the children aren’t easily controlled. I feel like I perform better and think better if I look presentable. I have about thirty minutes to get ready after I get out of the shower so I have no time to decide what to wear. I lean towards sheath dresses, necklaces and a blazer. Dresses are so much easier to throw on than thinking about a top and bottom outfit. I bought three or four sheath dresses and necklaces that I liked. I just switch everything up for small changes.
Find your preferred method to reduce stress and plan on having to do it A LOT –I struggled, and I mean struggled with this in the beginning. It was not easy going from being home all the time to smack dab the middle of a highly professional department with all of the different things I had to learn early on. About 85% of my Department are ex-military and more than half have their MBAs. One of those two things alone can be super intimidating. Navigating new systems with a million things coming at me at the same time left me clenching my jaw and with stress headaches daily. I had to take deep breaths, listen to spa music, pour wine at night and even as much as I hate to admit this, pop a chill pill one night to come down. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. After 5 months, stress management is much better but the stress was almost debilitating in the beginning.
Stay in some sort of lane, it doesn’t have to be the “fast lane” – I feel very lucky to have gotten a job at one of the most prestigious financial institutions at an Associate or AVP level but it was because even though I wasn’t on the fast track in my career I did work part-time for 7 years therefore placing in some sort of lane. I joke that even the slow lane is a lane. My experience with Nerium and direct sales was even helpful helping me land the new gig.
Aim to be great but not perfect – This is my favorite motto because it’s so true. If you try to be perfect you will always be disappointed. I just try to get up and shoot to do a great job and not worry about perfection. Perfection is impossible and overrated.
It’s been exhausting, challenging , hairy and non-stop busy going back to work but the crazy thing is that I don’t want to quit. I like interacting with people and learning something new every day. Some moms say working makes them happier at home. I certainly understand that feeling. Being happy, I think, makes me funnier too. A happy Mom is great Mom, but a funny Mom is the BEST kind of Mom.