I strive to make ThriveAP a well-rounded resource for nurse practitioners and physician assistants and 6 months ago motherhood suddenly became a game-changing part of my life. So, I thought I would share a little bit about my experience. The transition has actually been much easier than I anticipated but new challenges do crop up with each new phase of my son’s life. So, if you’re a new mom or parent-to-be, here are a few takeaways from my experience so far that I hope will help you dive in to life as a working parent.
Owning my own business, I didn’t really get to take a maternity leave. So, I immediately started the process of integrating my working life, my social life, my personal needs and motherhood all into a schedule that worked logistically, mentally and emotionally. The biggest surprise for me? Time. I though that since newborns slept constantly, I wouldn’t need to make many schedule adjustments. What I didn’t anticipate was that I would spend so much time just looking at and holding the new little guy.
Lesson: Schedule your time in a realistic manner. If you’re planning your day, write ‘feeding’ or ‘time with baby’ into your planner so that you have accurate expectations about the amount of time you can spend on non-parenting activities.
I really didn’t want to be one of those crazy first-time moms, so I tried to stay pretty laid back when my son arrived. This meant not making small things more important than they should have been and continuing to say ‘yes’ rather than reverting to ‘no’, using my infant as an excuse (unless warranted). So, my husband and I went out to dinner, car seat in tow. We got babysitters and went to Christmas parties. Although some days this seemed a little overwhelming, I’m glad that I made time for myself, my family, my job, my friends and my marriage in addition to my new baby.
Lesson: Just go for it. There were times where I felt a biological pull to sit on my living room couch all day to be with my son. But, whenever I tore myself away and took the time to go for a jog or meet a friend for lunch, I came back refreshed, clear-headed, and glad to have had a reason to be active, blow dry my hair or engage in some other form of self care. Spend tons of time with your new baby. But I also suggest pushing yourself to get back into other aspects of your life to retain your identity and avoid the baby blues.
With somewhat of a schedule and feeling of being settled, my husband and I started reclaiming our old selves. Or, maybe it’s better said that we decided to start pursuing some of our pre-parenthood activities again. So, we got our three month old an expedited passport and booked a trip to Argentina to visit friends. Easier to fly now than when he learns to walk, right?!
Lesson: Set yourself up for success. Our South American getaway was a smashing success. Spending uninterrupted time together as a new family was fun, not to mention we got a warm weather break from a dreary winter. But, I had to adjust my expectations. Our trip did not include ordering that extra drink at the bar after dinner. We stayed in one location rather than hopping from city to city. My new mom mantra has been to set myself up for success. This doesn’t refer to packing extra diapers, but more so to adjusting my expectations. If I expect trips and nights out to be exactly the same as they were, I’m bound to be disappointed. Rather, I expect that things might look different with baby and find myself instead focusing on different enjoyable aspects of whatever we decide to do.
I received advice when I was pregnant that as a working mom, I would be able to maintain my career just fine – it was the to-do list around my house that would slide. I found this advice to be very accurate. Laundry piles up in our house at an exponential rate. The sink is chronically full of dishes even though I’m a neat freak. I’ve stopped being the initiator of social events and instead resort to being invited.
Lesson: Help is key. Whether you hire a helper, redistribute at-home responsibilities with your mate, or opt for a babysitter who will also do laundry, working and parenting cuts into time for other to-do’s. If it’s important to you to maintain pre-baby standards around your house, consider getting an extra set of hands on board to assist.
My husband and I are incredibly lucky in that our son is a very laid back little guy. He rarely cries as long as he’s fed. He’s happy to be out in public. And, best yet, he remains agreeable even if his usual nap time is disrupted. As a result, we end up taking him along with us when we leave the house rather than relying heavily on evening and weekend babysitters. Naturally, this directs our date night dinner conversation to how cute our child is and to talking about him more than about us. A few weeks ago we found ourselves out to dinner alone and realized that we’d been missing out on quality one-on-one time.
Lesson: Take a date night – without the baby. Sitters are expensive and can be hard to pin down, but time alone as a couple to work on your relationship is essential amidst the busyness of a career + parenting. Spring for a regular date night to spend time with your sig-o. It’s a priceless investment.
I’ll let you know…
Help an NP out! What lessons have you learned as a working parent?