At the Office:
- Do NOT use being a parent as an excuse at work/don't play the parent card at the office. If you're late to work because of something kid related, apologize for being late, but don't make being a parent the excuse. Don't say, "I'm sorry I'm late. Things were just crazy at home today." because anyone without kids can have a crazy morning. It's just life. If you need to vent about the morning, go find a colleague who has kids.
- Communicate with your team. If your hours will vary compared to the schedules of other team members, talk to those people and let them know your hours and how you're going to make it work that your different schedule will not create more work for them. Maybe you need to be available from home early in the morning and after you put your kids to bed. If that's the price of always being home to put your children to bed, it's worth it.
- Remind yourself regularly that you don't have anything to prove, you just need to do your job and do your best to do it well. No one is rooting against you. No one assumes you can't be a mom and do your job. It's in your head, but I know it feels real.
- Don't shy away from projects and assignments because the more you are engaged at work, the more satisfied you will likely feel. And that translates to a little less mommy guilt about not being at home.
- When you're first returning to work from maternity leave, remember that your baby probably is asleep for half the time you're away at work. So while you may feel like you're missing a full day with your baby, you're probably only missing four awake hours and instead of doing laundry and chores around the house, you're actually eating lunch. With utensils. While sitting down.
- Be kind to yourself. Doing the best you can doesn't translate to feeling good about everything you do everyday. One day you're doing the best you can at getting your house in order before heading to work. One day you're doing the best you can at being on time for every call and meeting. One day you're doing your best at just not falling apart. Be kind to yourself.
- Do as much shopping as you possibly can online. And I mean as MUCH as you can. Take advantage of being able to order anything you need without having to sacrifice precious mommy time running errands. Whether it's diapers, clothing, gifts, groceries or takeout, find it online. Many companies now offer free returns and all you need to do is download a pre-paid return shipping label for anything you don't want to keep which removes some added costs of online shopping. Seasonally I will order several styles of pants in two sizes each to try on my son at home. If I took him to a store to try on clothes, not only would it take forever, there would be a lot of negotiating and bargaining. No fun. Shipping fees are worth it. And you'll probably find that many companies - diapers.com in particular - seem designed for the absent minded parent who needs diapers/products in a hurry as they deliver on a regular 1-2 day schedule. So when you're wondering how you ran out of diapers without knowing, you're not alone. There wouldn't be an entire online company that ships immediately if there weren't a lot of us ordering at the last minute.
- Find shortcuts to things. Along the lines of online shopping, batch cook meals on Sundays to make meal time less stressful. Designate a night for takeout so you don't feel guilty for not making dinner or like a failure because you didn't get around to shopping to be able to make dinner. Instead, make it part of the "be kind to yourself" routine.
- Find a sitter and book weekends even if you don't have plans. Friday and Saturday night sitters are hard to find so lock in the nights when they are available and build plans around those dates. And don't forget that having a sitter come in the middle of your day on a weekend might also feel heavenly. While kids take a mid-day nap or have chill time, you can run to the movies, brunch with friends, or a lunch date.
- Buddy up with another couple for "Monitor sitting." Simple and genius and a lot less expensive than a sitter. If you have friends with kids, plan nights when you put your own kids to sleep and have a friend just come "monitor sit" while you go out. This way you're not paying a sitter to just hangout in your home while kids are asleep and there's nothing to do. Alternate weekends with your friends and you just scored yourself free babysitting.