I was telling business partner Jim some of my Gus stories last week and he said “you should blog on that!”. At first I poo-pood the idea, but everyone HAS been asking me lots of questions about how I’m adjusting – it seems people are curious how someone previously known as a workaholic might be adjusting to life with some new priorities. And supporting working moms is a pretty big topic for organizations who want to figure out how to retain talent. So with that, I’ll share a few thoughts on my life as a working mom interspersed with my other blog musings about IT and organizations.
To start, I’ve come to a few conclusions over the last few weeks since giving birth I thought I’d share…
1. Six weeks is a really short maternity leave! I admit it – I secretly thought maternity leave was just like an extended vacation and a chance to exercise off the extra pounds to fit back in work clothes. Yeah, no. Even if the doctor had cleared me for exercise before I went back to work, I wouldn’t have felt up to it – and I worked out through most of my pregnancy! But forget the physical side of it – the big challenge was just figuring out how to be a mom. I found myself obsessing about whether or not we’d be ready in time… And we weren’t. The six weeks absolutely flew by and I was not ready to leave the little guy when it was over.
2. Six weeks is a really long maternity leave. Jim and the rest of my colleagues were awesome, totally holding down the fort and keeping me out of pretty much everything business related… For almost six weeks. At about five and a half weeks I think we both broke down and started into more and more work related discussions. Even though i wasn’t yet back to bigger client and company meetings, Jim really wanted my input and I wanted to be involved. No surprise, it is hard for a leader of a company to disengage. But what I found more interesting was the psychological effects of not working. This hit me one day about halfway through my leave when Jim called just to talk about mommy hood and I told him I was having a bad day, for no particular reason. He said he needed to fill me in on some work stuff sometime later in the week and I told him just to hit me with it. After about ten minutes of talking about work I was happy again. I felt more like myself. So even though it was hard to go back to work so quickly I was glad I did; I got back to being myself that much sooner.
3. Moms can be very productive. I’m a productivity junkie and I thought I was optimized, but I’ll tell you, I’m even more productive now. Productivity is a combination of doing the right things (and not doing many other things) and doing them very efficiently. I’ve increased my ability to do both, just because I’m motivated. I know when 5 pm comes around I really want to be done, and I do everything I can to get done. Not only do I work faster, I question the value of practically everything I spend time on. I believe the mantra “if you want to get something done, find a busy person to do it” applies here. Moms can be very productive!
4. Flexibility of hours and location is a huge benefit. I have a sweet setup. I couldn’t have planned it any better (well, I did kind of plan it). For the last month, I’ve been working at home with child care in the house. I have a nanny for four 10 hour days and then my hubbie stays home one day a week. And now we are sharing the nanny with our neighbors, so Gus has a playmate and we have another family to help. So I have coverage to take meetings early for my east coast clients and late for my west coast clients, and I also get to see Gus throughout the day. I am so grateful to be around and see him all day. It would have been much harder to go back so soon without that luxury. I’ve always loved working at home and now I love it more. And I love that my hours give me time to spend with Gus.
5. I’m still me. I had to throw this in because so many people got in my head about what was going to happen to me after I had kids. They told me how hard it would be and how I might not want to keep working. I wondered if I’d still be me! I was so worried about whether I’d lose my career ambitions, or even start resenting work, I worried about feeling guilty all the time. And none of that has happened. I called Jim soon after giving birth and said, “just to be clear, I’m still me. This mom thing is awesome, but I’m excited to come back and help with everything we are building,”. Maybe I’m just Lisa 2.0 now, I have not once wished to be a stay at home mom… Even though I have more respect than ever for women who choose that job!
Ok, I’ve got a few topics coming soon… Including Gus’s first work trip, breastfeeding challenges, mom networking and more. Stay tuned!!