Our newest contributor “The Manager Mom” works at a fast paced consulting firm while also raising two young boys. She lives in the city’s West end and loves discovering new places and flavours with her boys. We’ve asked her some questions here to get to know her better.
How old was your first baby when you went back to work? How did you prepare yourself for the transition from a stay-at-home to working mom?
With my first child, I stayed home for the full one-year maternity leave and went back to work shortly after his first birthday. The first and most important thing to take care of was finding a trusted childcare arrangement. I was waitlisted with several daycare centres from the time my son was born, and researched home based daycares as a back-up plan. We got a spot at a daycare centre that was not my first choice (as I had to take a bus and a subway to get there), but the place was clean and bright, with great food menu and daily walks to High Park, and that helped ease some of my anxiety. As for work, I opted to start two weeks after he started the daycare, to make the transition gradual and to give myself a much-needed time off. I then used the remainder of my accumulated vacation to take Wednesdays off for the next three months, so I was effectively working a 4-day week.
Sounds like you really thought this through! Was the transition easy then? How did you feel when you went back to work?
I wish I could say everything worked out nice and easy, but it was far from that. The first six months or so where extremely hard. My son often cried when I dropped him off and was sick often, my brain felt foggy at work, and the commute was too long (now that I had an extra stop to make for drop off or pick up). I was constantly stressed, and felt like I was failing at everything.
Please tell me it gets better.
Better? Yes. Easy? No. The first six months were definitely rock bottom, and the lifestyle was not sustainable. Once my son turned 18 months, we switched to a different daycare, walking distance from home. My husband started turning down evening shifts so he could do most pick-ups. I approached my manager to work from home two days a week. And I started outsourcing weekend chores (cleaning, meal prep) and shopping online primarily, so I can use my weekends to recharge.
You are now coming to the end of your leave with the second baby. Are you still planning to return to work?
Yes, definitely! But now that I (sort of) know what to expect, I have even more planning and arranging to do. Stay tuned for my blog post on going back to work the second time around!
Do you have any parenting rules or wisdom you can share?
The thing with kids, they keep changing on you! Just when you think you found an approach that works, they grow a new set of challenges. And if you think you can use the same tricks with your second kid during the same stages, you would also be wrong! So I guess my rule is to be observant and flexible and not “stuck” in any given approach. I am planning to do a few blog posts on my favorite parenting books and a roundup of the blogs that I follow, so stay tuned!
Last question, what are The Manager Mom’s most favorite things to do in the Toronto?
Oh, are you kidding me? My favorite thing about Toronto is that there is just SO much to do, you can always find something new to discover… Well, I love the libraries, they have amazing FREE programming for both kids and adults. Then there are the parks and ravines (also FREE by the way), great for strolling and hiking and picnicking. For adult entertainment, I treat myself to National Ballet performances every season, and for kids, I love the Science Centre, which can entertain kids from age one (did you know they have a toddler section?) all the way to visiting grandparents.