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Let’s Be Honest About Returning To Work After Having A Baby

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Sep. 19 2019, Published 4:30 a.m. ET

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The statement that “it takes a village to raise a child” is indeed true. It also takes a village to run and grow a business.

Yet many of us never have honest conversations within our community about what life will look like after our babies are born. No one talks about the hormone shifts that cause postpartum depression, or healing from an unplanned C-section, and the nights when you’re so exhausted, you accidentally spill the breastmilk that you worked so hard for all over the kitchen floor.

I’ve always been the type of person that believed — where there is a will; there is a way. Running my event company FIT&FEAST was challenging, but never impossible. I’ve always said to my clients, “I can make it happen.”

I was realistic about the challenges of owning my own business. Without full-time employees, I knew I would not be able to take on new clients for a few months around my due date. I also prepared to have a presence online so that I could enjoy the first few months of motherhood. I outsourced the management of my social media and website. I also prepared clients that were booked later in the year by giving them tasks to work on while I was out.

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However, after I had my son, things really changed. Being a first-time mom and not knowing what to expect, I truly felt I would be able to jump back in to work within six to eight weeks. Not full-time, but at least checking emails and doing quick check-ins with my team… Well, I was in for a big surprise.

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I ended up going back to work full-time when my son was seven months old. I had a couple small projects. However, the real deep dive back in took a bit longer. Looking back, I wish I had told myself to take a full three to four months off, and then reevaluate next steps. I feel this would have alleviated unnecessary stress and anxiety that was brought on when I wasn’t able to return as quickly as I had thought. I needed time, and frankly still need time to figure out the balance between motherhood and running a business.

Prior to motherhood I had more time, which allowed me to do more on my own. Between pumping, washing bottles, making baby food, and most importantly, playtime, it was hard to fit in the growth of my business. I had an intuitive sense that I needed to find other mothers like me — other ambitious, goal-oriented ladies. I am fortunate to live in a family-oriented neighborhood with many new parents, and I now have an incredible group of new mom friends that have become my support system. Turns outs, our babies were born within days of each other, and we are navigating motherhood together. I have turned to them for help; I bounce ideas off of them; and we recently turned a Friday playdate into a photo shoot of our babies to use for the promotion of my business. One of my friends happens to be a photographer, so we all rallied together to support each other.

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It takes a village. It also takes childcare assistance. Looking back, I wish I had planned to have more help prior to having my baby. Having assistance with childcare is crucial. For me, learning to trust someone I barely knew with my most prized possession, and managing the emotions around going back to work, was difficult, but without help, I wouldn’t be able to rest or focus so that I can be the best version of myself for my clients.

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There are many classes to prepare you for childbirth and motherhood, however, a class for working moms and what to expect would go a long way.

New mothers go through a lot mentally and physically, and it takes a long time to get back on track after pregnancy. I cannot imagine what it would be like to walk back into a corporate office 12 weeks after giving birth.

It would be great if leaders and organizations would show a better understanding for the transition back to work from maternity leave. Let new moms show off pictures of their baby for a day or two without judgment. Provide nursing rooms that are comfortable and not only for moms that are pumping, but also for moms that just need to sit in peace and quiet, or maybe cry, or FaceTime home. We understand life and work has to continue — however, an easier transition for new mothers will go a long way.

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As my son and my friends’ children began to reach their milestones, we all had questions, and I realized I had a platform to provide a space for us to build community and talk about the realness of becoming of a mother. Moms are not meant to look perfect and have it all figured out. Motherhood is messy, but we can come together to laugh about it and find support. This was the mission for creating FIT&FEAST the Mini Series — to put the fun back in fundamentals of raising our children. We need more events for parents that aren’t feeding the fear that you’ve failed if you don’t have all the answers or simply need help. We all do. It takes a village.

THIS PIECE WAS WRITTEN BY TRACIE SIMON AND ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON THRIVE GLOBAL.

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