Juggling work and being a new mom

April 1, 2010 9:58:22 AM PDT
Recent studies show that more than 60 percent of women with children under the age of three are now dividing their time between home and the work place.

This brings with it special challenges.

Before baby, life was certainly less chaotic and definitely more predictable, but not nearly as wonderful. So after more than three months of sharing almost every minute with my daughter, Sienna, the thought of spending hours away from her triggered a lot of anxiety and a lot of questions.

Sometimes it's easy to forget what life was like before the little one arrived.

So how will I juggle being a mom, a wife and a reporter? My colleague, Tamala Edwards says she needs to remind herself that societal pressures can make difficult decisions even harder.

"Being a parent, especially a mother means you have to be comfortable with guilt, whatever choice you make there is going to be someone who says you made the wrong choice," Tamala said.

Director of the Penn Center for Women's Behavioral Wellness, Dr. Neill Epperson says it's a normal part of motherhood to question whether or not you are doing the right thing, and added, if a women decides to return to the workforce for financial reasons or personal reasons, being a professional and a mother can go hand in hand.

"Quite frankly, you'll probably be a better parent if you do in your work life something that fulfills you rather than staying at home and resenting that you're home," Dr. Epperson said.

Epperson warned that even with the majority of mothers now in the workforce, many of our mothers weren't.

"I think I put pressure on myself, I remember all the little things she did, she was active in my classroom, bringing my lunch to school on the days I forgot it, coming home and my room was clean and there were fresh bake cookies downstairs," Tamala said.

"They have to sit back and really assess what their expectations are and realize that they can't do it all. No one can do everything one hundred percent all the time," Epperson said.

That means talking with your partner about sharing responsibilities of the baby and your home.

"When I was with them, I gave them 100 percent of my attention. I wasn't folding laundry or doing all these other activities," Cecily Tynan said.

But I've found the most difficult struggle is leaving home without the baby. I've felt everything from guilt to sadness to fear about leaving Sienna in someone else's care.

Epperson suggested I set a time to call everyday and check in on Sienna to ease some of that anxiety. She also said it is helpful to take a few minutes to talk to the caregiver about Sienna's day, to help me feel in tune with my child's life, even when I'm not physically with her.

Most importantly, remember life is in a perpetual state of reevaluation. Talk to your partner about how your family is benefitting or not benefitting from both parents working outside the home.

"If you do decide after a few months of going back that you really would prefer to stay at home that's ok, you can certainly change your mind, nothing is permanent," Epperson said.

Another good idea is to ask for advice from other working moms. How do they manage to juggle everything? But it's important to remember, everyone is different, listen to others but make sure you design a routine that works best for you.