My Two Cents

Posted on | April 21, 2010 | 20 Comments

I know I’m no where near being an “old pro” at this working mom thing, but I still feel compelled to share a little bit of what I’ve learned with some of you who might be new to the game, returning to work shortly,  or who just want to read and laugh at those of us poor saps who have to leave our kids all day to do this tedious “work” thing.

I thought long and hard about posting this partly because, well, I hate it when people tell me what to do. I HATE it. So I didn’t want to come across like I’m saying “this is how to be a working mom” because, hell, we all know that I do NOT have this all figured out. What I wanted to do was just to offer some words of wisdom. Just my two cents on what you might want to think about doing prior to dropping your little darling off at daycare for the umpteenth time and wondering what the bejeezus is going on.

So here’s my two cents… ten things that might assist you in getting one or two of the half a billion kinks out. And please note that they are most definitely NOT in any particular order.

1. If you’re breastfeeding, get a good pump. Seriously. Trust me on this. I don’t know much but I know this… if you do not have a good pump, you will not continue to breastfeed after you return to work. I have the Medela Pump in Style Advanced and LOVE it but it’s certainly not the only high quality pump on the market. Do your research and buy the best one you can afford. (Sidenote? I bought mine on ebay for half price. Brand new, still in the sealed box.)

2. Ask questions. Ask lots and lots of questions. Ask questions to every freaking working mom you see. No matter what your question, someone will have an answer that suits your life. And if working mom’s fail you, ask your ADD friends. Because that’s what you’ll feel like when you get back into work with “Baby Brain.” Some of my best “organizing” ideas came from a friend without a baby!

3. If you can, take the time to surprise your daycare or care giver. Stop by when they aren’t expecting you. Drop in unannounced. And if they have a policy that you can’t do that, you need to change daycares. Dropping in without warning will give you a better sense of where your child is spending the day. You will either know it’s good or know you need to change within three drop in visits. I have complete confidence in J’s daycare simply because I drop by at odd hours, ALL the time. I’ve never been when there was a baby crying who was not being attended to. They are amazing.

4. Set a morning routine that involves BOTH parents. Trust me when I say you do not want to get eight months down the road and still be playing supermom or superdad while your spouse/partner sleeps. Get both of you involved from the get go. Have jobs that each of you take care of and stick to it. If you trade around that’s fine, just keep it as even as possible. It will save you from a lot of early morning arguments and from a lot of angry drives to work wondering if Alannis Morrissette is going to scar your child’s psyche.

5. Take turns taking your kid to daycare and picking him/her up. It’s good for both of you to have the experience. Plus, then there are two faces the daycare workers see. They get to know BOTH parents. And more importantly, both parents get to know the daycare workers. And when little Junior gets old enough to really recognize you, it’s not fair to hog all that end-of-day daycare love to yourself. Picking J up from daycare is my favorite part of the day… it’s just that good.

6. Put your doctor on speed dial on your cell phone. Seriously. It will be peace of mind for you to have it right there on hand no matter where you are. I know it seems silly… but it will save you time when the daycare calls and says “Come get little one, he’s throwing up” and you have to haul ass over there while dialing the doctor. If it’s not in your phone? Screwed. (well, not really… you can still call, but trust me it’s easier to just have it in the phone!)

7. Find what works for you. Every working mom has a different style. Mine now involves massive list making. I have to document every phone call I get and every piece of mail I open or I will forget something. I calendar EVERYTHING. In fact, I really wish I could somehow sync my work calendar to my phone so I have it always. But that’s just me. I don’t remember things the way I used to. You will find what works for you and then come hell or high water, you do it your way. Other people will try to tell you how to do it better… shake ‘em off. They don’t know you. They don’t know how you roll. You’re doing it the way that works for you and that. Is. All. That. Matters.

8. Laugh. Seriously. Laugh a lot. And most importantly, laugh at yourself. It will save you from a lot of embarrassing situations. Like noticing poop when you reach out to shake a client’s hand. If you can laugh at yourself, you will find the hits a lot easier to take. Plus, think of the calorie burn.

9. Invest in Tide To Go or Shout Wipes. One for your purse. One for the diaper bag. One in the car. One in your desk drawer. Trust me on this.

10. FIND A BABYSITTER. Seriously. Interview when you’re still on maternity leave. Have someone you feel comfortable with even before you start working because there will come a time when you desperately need someone to stay with your too sick for daycare little one. And it will be so much easier if you are already familiar with that person.

So there you have it. Law Momma’s two (or ten) cents on how to be a working mom. Or how to make working outside the home a little easier… or less of a headache. It’s not easy and I don’t think it’s ever going to be easy. But I hope at least one of these things will come in handy for at least one person. And I’m sure those of you reading have your own stuff to add… please do! Like I’ve said a thousand times, I don’t have it figured out.

So this is me asking questions… what makes it easier for YOU?


20 Responses to “My Two Cents”

  1. Kersten
    April 21st, 2010 @ 12:52 pm

    I've been a lurker on your blog and love it! Thanks for all the honesty.

    Have you ever tried Google Calendar? It allows you to export your work calendar from Outlook to your Google account. You can access your calendar from your phone with the Google Mobile App. Hope it's the solution you're looking for!

  2. D
    April 21st, 2010 @ 12:55 pm

    You've pretty much hit the nail on the head! As a working momma it has taken me awhile to figure all of this out, but we have gotten into a pretty good rhythm. We just have to find a good babysitter at this point!

    Love you blog!

  3. Mama Pea
    April 21st, 2010 @ 1:23 pm

    As another new working mom, I agree with everything you just said. I make lots of lists too – not only do I seem to be more forgetful now (major case of Mom Brain), but there is also so much more to remember! Calendars and lists are key. I also have to prep everything the night before, as much as possible: any clothes, diapers, wipes, etc. for daycare, bottles, whatever. Things always come up in the morning – like I'm totally all set to head out the door on time, and then the baby throws up all over his clothes and I have to go back and change his outfit…. It's best to do as much as possible the night before so I have time for the unforeseen morning events. Becoming a working mom has truly been a test of my time management and organizational skills!

  4. Ms. Diva
    April 21st, 2010 @ 1:27 pm

    I use Outlook and both phones (Honey and mine) have the same calendar and contacts. With all these kids and everyones different schedules, EVERYTHING goes into the phone and a couple of times a week we resync up.

    I have a Blackberry Curve and Honey uses an iPhone.

  5. KLZ
    April 21st, 2010 @ 1:28 pm

    I'm all about sharing doctor duty too. What happens if you're traveling and your spouse has never done a doctor phone call or visit on their own? Screwed!

    I've also found that I have to have a no phone calls after 7 policy or I spend no time with my husband. Sad, but true. (Twitter is ok though.)

  6. Anne
    April 21st, 2010 @ 1:42 pm

    Thumbs up law momma, thumbs up.

  7. My Mercurial Nature
    April 21st, 2010 @ 2:02 pm

    It's so hard to be a working Mom (its' own set of challenges from being a SAHM) – you've offered good advice!

  8. HarmSkills
    April 21st, 2010 @ 2:22 pm

    I stay at home, and I have to say, get a good pump and doc on speed dial is on my SAHM list too!

  9. Blair@HeirtoBlair
    April 21st, 2010 @ 3:12 pm

    Dude, I could have written this myself. LOVE.

  10. the blantons....
    April 21st, 2010 @ 3:37 pm

    Yes! Yes yes yes to all items! That stain stick rec is truly no lie! When you have to dash off to an important client meeting first thing in the a.m, and you realize your child left a little present on your blouse, that stain stick is a life saver!

  11. CarolynLeigh
    April 21st, 2010 @ 5:53 pm

    Mobile Me is an option too. It is an apple product but it works without you knowing what to do and will sync, pcs, macs, phones. . . it saves us.
    Great blog, you are definitely a "friend in my head".

  12. Diana
    April 21st, 2010 @ 7:13 pm

    Thank you for this – I'm remembering it for later down the road. It's things I might think of after I make the mistake, and now I don't have to.

  13. Kristin
    April 22nd, 2010 @ 1:08 am

    I work from home…but I can't say enough about finding a babysitter you trust! I've yet to do it and if my Mom or sister are busy…we don't get to go out. Sigh.

  14. mrs.notouching
    April 22nd, 2010 @ 1:40 am

    This list is great for ALL mamas. I am SAHM and could use almost all your points just for getting out of the house and getting anything done (especially with more than one kid!)
    FWing this to some of my working mom friends.

  15. metta1313
    April 22nd, 2010 @ 4:30 am

    Thanks momma! I heart your 2 cents and realize I'm doing about half of those already…now to find time to figure out the other half 😛

  16. Melodramommy
    April 22nd, 2010 @ 5:04 am

    This was an awesome post! I totally agree with the good breast pump, I had the same one. And, the rest of the advice all right on! Thanks!

  17. mommytojenna
    April 22nd, 2010 @ 12:52 pm

    Thanks for this – I'm heading back to work in a couple of months and of course it feels like it's coming up way too fast and have already begun to think about how our routine is going to change. I think the idea that both parents be involved is a really important one – my hubby hasn't even seen the daycare that Jenna's going to in the fall…that needs to change asap!

  18. Baby Mama
    April 22nd, 2010 @ 3:44 pm

    I agree with all of these, but wouldn't have thought of putting them into words. Thanks for taking the time to write this.

  19. Don't Pat the Belly
    April 22nd, 2010 @ 8:57 pm

    Love this list! I would add build your wardrobe around 3 principles: shirts that you can pump in without stripping, clothes that don't *have* to be ironed, clothes that hide stains of all kinds.

    I wore a really cute dress my first day back at work that basically required me to strip in order to pump.

  20. Momma K
    April 24th, 2010 @ 2:11 am

    This is a great list & I agree with everything you've written. I am a workin' momma of 3 boys & it is a challenge. My biggest issue isn't the organization part anymore…it's the guilt. How do I get over that part? I wonder if I ever will. I have issues, I know! Enough about me, this post rocks. Nice work momma.

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