March 24 Mama Blogger: Ashley Green
Ashley moved to Regina from Yellowknife three years ago with her significant other, AJ, and their three fur babies. They have a one and a half year old daughter, Inara. She’s not too sure what free time is between working full time, parenting and being a competitive athlete, as well as making cakes on the side, but she tries to let her artistic side out in various forms when she can.
Finding Balance After Maternity Leave
There’s a delicate balancing act we must play as mothers. It’s not something I think we can ever truly master as life, and our tiny humans, continually change and throw us curveballs, but we do the best we can.
The adjustment from the working world to maternity leave is emotional and can be a struggle for many women, but for me it couldn’t come soon enough (especially as my due date was pushed back two weeks and my daughter was another week late on top of that – I felt like I’d been pregnant forever). However, I think we can all agree that it’s got nothing on the challenge of going back to work at the end of your leave! That, my friends, is a game changer.
I was lucky enough to take 14 months at home with our daughter and I am so grateful for that time, but the return to work… man, that was a real struggle!
Let’s get back track a bit…
Our daughter was and continues to be an incredible nurser – right from the first minute of life. The downside to this was that she absolutely, 100% refused to take a bottle from anybody, ever. She is also a huge momma’s girl, and went through an extended period of extreme separation anxiety where even her dad holding her made her lose her mind. It was physically and emotionally exhausting for all of us. There were times I wished I could have just gotten away for a while to have some me time.
Despite this, I was nowhere near ready to go back to work and leave her in someone else’s care. But the decision wasn’t up to me… financially it was necessary. So back to work I went and, surprisingly, the tiny human loved her day home! That was a huge relief.
After a month of half days, I went back full time and that’s when I realized how bad my balancing act had become. As working mothers, not only are we expected to complete our duties at work 40+ hours a week, we also have to tend to our children’s needs when we’re home, feed everyone breakfast, pack lunches, plan and prepare dinner, give baths, get the kids to bed… not to mention somehow fitting in the housework, grocery shopping, organizing play dates, activities, appointments, etc. On top of all that, I was back to competitive curling and had practices and spiels on weekends. So when are we supposed to sleep?! Thankfully, husbands/partners, family and friends can often help out so we get to keep some level of sanity.
But I think we can all agree that momming and working is beyond having two full time jobs. So how on Earth are we to supposed to balance it all? I’m pretty sure whoever came up with the “work-life balance” term wasn’t a mom… Balance? Yeah, right. But we’ve got to try, and after several months of trial and error I think I’m getting it figured out. So here are my top five tips for attempting to balance work, parenthood and any other activities you’re crazy enough to dedicate a significant portion of your life to:
- Set aside one night per week that’s your night off
My partner and I figured out pretty early on that if we didn’t have time off, away from the house, we’d probably destroy our sanity – or our relationship… So we decided that we’d each have one night weekly where we could go do something we did pre-parenthood. He takes Wednesdays and usually goes to pub trivia or a movie. I have Thursdays and go curling. There are additional evenings we may take once in a while, but no matter what, these are our designated nights off. We respect these and turn down any offers to go out or make plans on the other person’s night.
- Monthly date night
We don’t have a lot of extra spending money to go out often nor to pay a babysitter regularly, so we ask my SIL to babysit once a month so we can enjoy some time as a couple. If you don’t have family or child-free friends nearby who would be willing to help out once in a while, ask some other parents if you can trade off babysitting for each other – it’s a win-win for both families!
- Ask for help when you’re feeling overwhelmed (or just in general)
You’re not Wonder Woman. Well, maybe we all are, but we still need help sometimes! Ask for it and your stress level will significantly subside. Besides, dads are just as capable of cleaning or putting a meal on the table or giving the tiny humans a bath. We don’t have to do it all.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff
If the housework doesn’t get done one weekend, don’t worry about it. Life is too short and our kids are only this small for a short time. So forget the chores once in a while and go splash in some puddles with your kiddo.
- Put a hard stop to your work day
I learned this one from a wonderful boss I once had. When your scheduled work day is coming to a close, don’t say “oh I just need to wrap this up and then I’ll leave.” Just don’t. That work will still be there tomorrow or on Monday. Those extra ten, fifteen, thirty minutes add up and that’s time much better spent at home with your loved ones. Heck, you could even catch up on those chores you didn’t sweat about on the weekend so that you could play with your tiny human. See where I’m going with this?
These are small things that I’ve incorporated into my life to slow down and find balance. I hope some of these tips can help you do the same.
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