All mothers are working mothers; to say otherwise is to devalue what mothers do. If a mother needs or wants to return to work outside the home, she can still make her child her priority and be as present as possible.
The key to being a present working mom is to embrace compromise not as an obligation, but as freedom. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. It is also important to be honest with your employer and your colleagues with your limitations and priorities.
Here are some tips to help mothers who try to balance working with raising a young child—
1. Remove distractions from the time you return home until the time your baby goes to sleep.
This includes all phones and technology.
2. Being there for as many transitions—waking, sleeping, leaving the home and returning—as you can is key.
3. Leave at least 2 hours between your return home and your baby’s bedtime, if possible.
If your baby has not seen you all day and you try to put her to bed as soon as you return, she will fight sleep.
4. Be flexible about schedules, particularly around bedtime.
It’s OK to sit in your child’s room with him until he falls asleep. You can calm and relax your child with soothing repetition, “It’s sleepy time and mommy is here.” This can be your time to relax and even meditate.
5. If you have been gone all day, expect your child to need you more at night and to wake more often.
6. Keep your work life separate from your home life.
Be clear with your work when you will respond to after-hours emails or calls. If you have to work at home at night or on a weekend, wait until your child is asleep or napping.
7. Do your best to keep regular hours.
Even a very young baby will develop a sense of when their mother will be home, and get upset when she doesn’t arrive.
8. If your budget allows, outsource as much housework and food preparation as possible, or try to clean and prepare meals when the baby is asleep.
9. Ask for help whenever you need it!
Whether you stay home with your child or work outside the home, small changes in the way you manage your time, remove distractions, and handle transitions can make all the difference to the relationship with your child.