How would you best describe yourself?
I am the proud mother of a little boy who turned 2 last week. I enjoy cooking, travelling and when I can working out. Work was my life but now my little boy is :D
How has becoming a parent changed your perception of work and career and what surprised you the most?
Being a parent was an amazing experience but prior to having my son, I had a completely different perception on how having a baby would affect my career. My initial thought was I was going to have bubs, then put him into care at 6 months then get back into my career. But after having bubs, this all changed...I tried putting him into care and the mum guilt was monumentally difficult to handle. I had to wait another 3 months and then I started working 1 day a week so I could ease back into the workforce. It wasn't until his first birthday, I went back 3 days a week without feeling anxious I was not around him. Thankfully, my workplace has flexible hours and I really appreciate that.
I think the biggest surprise of going back to work for me was mum guilt! Leaving bubs at childcare was the worst feeling and it got to a point where I had my husband do drop off as I could not handle it. I was emotional when I got to work but thankfully my amazing team helped me ease back into things.
What advice would you give your younger self about starting a family?
Self care is the most important aspect of becoming a mother. You need to make sure that you make some time for yourself to either get pampered, exercise or spending time with friends on a regular basis. It will make you a better mother, spouse and friend if you take time to care for yourself.
What has been your biggest challenge so far across the stages of pregnancy / leave / returning to work? How have you overcome this?
My biggest challenge so far has been my mental health. I had put very high expectations on myself to have the perfect child who sleeps, eats, is happy and when I didn't get this I began questioning my maternal instincts. Negative thoughts can sometimes get the better of you and isolation when bubs is so little can be difficult too deal with. But talking about your thoughts with your spouse, other mothers, maternal health nurse or GP really do help. Bottling up your thoughts is the worst thing to do but if other are aware that you are struggling they can help you out. Remember it takes a village to raise a child not just mum!
My strategy to juggle being a working mumma and family is to always meal plan. My 2 days off is obviously looking after bubs, housework but also preparing meals for the week. Because once you get home you just warm up the food instead of starting from scratch. My son loves cooking so we enjoy this time cutting up vegetables and making things together. Therefore the weekends are left for spending time with my husband and son to make family memories.