Baby at 40; Baby in your 20’s: Returning to Work Post-Baby and Making ‘it’ Work

Authored By:

Lisa McCarthy, Mommy at 40 and Director of Public Relations and Marketing

Lesly Cardec, Mommy at 29 and Public Relations Manager

Going back to work post-baby is no easy task no matter what stage of your career you’re in.  But, these different stages make the worries and challenges somewhat different based on experience. In this article we take a look at how someone who had a baby at 40 and someone in their 20’s not only returned to work successfully—but with their head intact!

What was your biggest challenge returning back to work post-baby?

LM: For me I was going from a consultant role back to a corporate role and running a department.  I went from having my own timeline and only being responsible for my family needs and getting the project done. Where now, I not only have my child to feel guilty about when I miss an event at school, or she can’t have a lot of play dates, but I also now have a whole department of people reporting to me that have needs too—so  I have double the guilt! 

LC: This question is very timely! For me, the biggest challenge was wanting to make sure that I put 150% into both my son and my career. For the last seven years I have been working very hard to make a name for myself as a Public Relations professional within my Company. Pre-baby, I was always one of the last people to leave the office at night, checked emails when I got home and work over the weekend. Not that being a mother makes me any less driven , but it is forcing me to manage my time a little better because the ‘free time’ I had pre-baby doesn’t exist anymore.  I look at my son and think, “I have one chance to do this right.” Talk about pressure! I may not be with him 24/7, but when I am I make it count. There will always be times when my role of a mother and my role at work mix, but in order to be great at both, I now look at the “mix” as being my greatest challenge.

What are some tips that you can provide our readers to make the transition easier?

LM: Well now that I have gone through it, I can say everyone survives, learns and grows! Your child will not only be ok, but will more often than not, have to take total responsibility for getting their school work done by themselves. Your workers will be ok presenting by themselves if your child is sick and you have to stay home.  In fact, I have found everyone steps up to the plate when they have to, and it gives them more confidence.

LC: The greatest tip that I can give a new mom would be to not listen to unsolicited advice. Let’s face it— 5 minutes after you announce that you are expecting—all the sudden certain people feel the need to tell you their ‘secret’ to having a smooth pregnancy, what car seat to buy, why you shouldn’t put your kid in daycare, etc. Well, my advice is to take it all with a grain of salt. Everyone has different circumstances and ways to do things. What might not be right for one mom could work perfectly for you. Whatever your circumstance is, do whatever is easiest for you.

How can you apply what you do in your home-life to your work-life?

LM: It’s funny, how you deal with children, employees, and co-workers really is the same. As a manager you often protect your team from making a mistake– since the bottom line is what comes from your department is your responsibility. . But really, growth is all about letting people try it on their own. I have a funny story about my daughter learning how to do a backbend. I kept holding her every time, much to her annoyance because I didn’t want her to fall and hurt herself. This went on for a few weeks. Finally she said, “Daddy will you help me learn a backbend?” And sure enough my husband just let her try it and fall on her head a few times. And guess what? She learned how to do a backbend that day. Same is true of your employees. Once I got terribly sick before a presentation with the president of one of our divisions. One of my employees had to present for me. I was so nervous, but they did a fantastic job and I really saw the confidence it gave them.   It’s all about letting go even if it means letting people stumble and fall a few times.

LC: This too is a very timely question.  Lisa and I have been talking about this very topic for a while now wondering how we can target diverse women of all ages and the challenges they face balancing it all. SFN Group’s goal as a workforce organization and employer is to provide employment opportunities that support the advancement of women at every stage of their career. After doing a lot of research and conducting focus groups, we realized that television doesn’t offer much in terms of programming produced specifically for, and designed to help real women.  We recognized this gap and turned to the web as a means to tell the stories we were experiencing that we weren’t seeing anywhere else. From there, we partnered with CJP to develop Bestsellers, a multi-generational dramedy web series about five modern professional women balancing life, career and book club. The characters portrayed in this series: the entrepreneur, the IT consultant, the freelance mommy blogger, the accounting executive, the HR expert – each represent a cross-section of the professional women SFN Group employs every day through each of its specialized business units. This series dives into real issues working women face daily and has garnered over 160,000 views since the first episode launched in January!

Did you have any concerns about returning back to work?

LM: Oh yes a lot, how I will do it all! Will I be able to handle everything? What happens if my daughter gets sick and I have a big presentation?  What will happen if I have to go on a week long business trip?  What will happen if I don’t go on a field trip? What will happen if I have to stay up all night to get a project done and my daughter is late for school cause I over slept? I could go on and on. But you know what? It all happened and it all worked out.

LC: My biggest concern was not losing ground on my career path after being off for a few months. I remember being worried about feeling too disconnected and coming back having to work even harder to prove to my colleagues that my drive was still intact. I feared that others would view me as ‘less serious’ about my career. 

What’s the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you about being a working mom?

LM: Talk with other working moms. It really helps.  And it was this advice I used at work when I was asked to put together marketing programs that would engage with working women. Bestsellers, our new web TV series, is just that. It came from my experience being in a book club or organization with other women, who had the same challenges, or had already lived through them. It really helped. That’s why this series has been such a great success!

LC: The best advice anyone ever gave me was to just do the best you can and don’t compare yourself to others. We all want to be a Super Mom at home and a Super Manager at work. When I am at work, I am 100% focused on getting the job done. And, when I am with my son it is all about him. Do I think about missing milestones or dreading the day I drop him off at daycare and him saying, “Don’t leave me mommy”? Of course I do. But, I try not to dwell on those things. I value both hats that I wear and try my best to make them both fit.

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I’d like a Side of “Me” Time, Please?

Let me preface this with the fact that I love my son more than life itself. He is the best thing that ever happened to me (and if the hubby is reading this—you’re not too shabby yourself). But, I got a little ‘me’ time today and I’d like a double, please!

This weekend reiterated how important personal time truly is. In fact, now that I am a mom, I wonder what I did with all that free time pre-mommy days (besides sleep in!)?

Read more of my post featured on Our Family World

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7 things I’ve learned in the first 7 months

I decided to make this a regular feature on my blog (or at least attempt to) in order to capture all of the new things I encounter and learn as a new mom. Let’s face it—there is no guide on being good at this thing called ‘parenting’. In my opinion, it’s just one big experiment after another. You try things and they either work or they don’t. And if they don’t, you try something else!

So, here is a breakdown of what I have learned on this wild ride so far:

  • It’s not all about me anymore. Yeah, seems pretty obvious right? The moment my son arrived, I had to remind my mother to say hello to me. But, guess what? He is more important and I’m totally fine with it!  
  • Every baby is different. I think we have all sat there and thought to ourselves, “I wonder why my baby isn’t doing that yet and there’s is.” I loathe parents who try to ‘up’ other parents by bragging about when their baby started crawling, sitting up, spoke their first word, or even how much their child weighs. I decided to purposely avoid chiming in on these conversations to avoid the ‘what’s wrong with your baby’ stare down.
  • Say goodbye to sleep for the next 18 years. I like to sleep in. In fact, I’ve always liked to sleep in. So much so that I have asked my best friend if we could have a sleepover at her house every once in a while so that I can try to alleviate the twitch that has been a guest in my lower left eyelid for a month now.  Think its nuts for nearly 30-year-old women to have sleepovers? Yeah, well I’m (totally) serious.
  • Just because a product is said to cure miracles, doesn’t mean it works for every baby. I bought so many baby things that my home at one point resembled a daycare. Between the jumper, the walker, the swing, the basinet, the rock ‘n play sleeper, the pack and play, the bouncer, the kick gym, I had enough entertainment to throw some yard animals into the mix and start charging admission! And guess what he (has always) preferred the most? Mommy’s arms, free of charge.
  • I am a champion multi-tasker. I have found that I can do really amazing things with my baby attached to my hip. I can be on conference call, mop the floor and feed my son all at the same time!
  • Misplacing things seems to be an everyday occurrence.  Everyone warned me of this thing called ‘mommy brain’. I never understood it and associated it with just another excuse of being forgetful. Well, my husband can vouch for this: My memory is so much worse post-baby.  Although he believes that I have selective hearing, unless it’s in an email or text I have a hard time retaining things.
  • I wasn’t “really” busy before my son.  I used to complain that I had no time to do things before I became a mom. Ha! It sure was hard to pack in sunbathing by the pool, going to the gym AND making it to happy hour on time! Oddly enough, I find myself doing more in all aspects of my life since my son was born. In fact, in a weird sense, I think that he has given me more drive to be better at everything.

Having a baby is the biggest change that I have had in my life so far. Not only does it put things in a heck of a lot more perspective, but it gives you a whole new sense of purpose. 

For all you new moms out there, what else have you learned?

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Looking for a great (free) activity for the kids? Try your local library

I’ll be the first to admit that the last time I went to the library was in college (and not because I wanted to). After looking for fun (and low cost) activities to do with my infant son, someone mentioned that I should check out my local library for storytelling times.

It was challenging to find an economical, educational, as well as entertaining activity that was available on the weekends. Most activities that I have researched are in the middle of the day during the week (which is not an option for me).

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The ‘Twitch’

I warned you in the ‘About Me’ section that I am sometimes (many times) very random. So, you were forewarned.

My eye has been twitching going on day 20 now. At first, I thought it was normal. But as I come towards the one month mark, one has to wonder what the heck this is from?

Yeah, I am fricken exhausted, work is busy (but, who’s complaining about that, right?!), and I been stressed about other things. But…aren’t we all?

Here is why doctors say this is happening:

  • Stress (yes)
  • Tiredness (yep)
  • Eye strain (I stare at a monitor all day, so yes)
  • Caffeine (yes, please)
  • Alcohol (bring it)
  • Dry eyes (how do I know- haven’t touched by eyeballs lately)
  • Nutritional imbalances (cinnamon toast crunch is healthy)
  • Allergies (only to my pain in the a** dog. See previous post)

In one article I read, a doctor listed Botox injections as a remedy if it doesn’t go away. So, is this guy telling people that they should spasm, as well as not be able to move their face?

Okay, enough of my ramblings. I will try and get more rest and possibly try to make an appointment to actually use my vision insurance that I pay for.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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My Dog Gets the Shaft

I heard about it before my son was born and didn’t believe it. I was warned that once my son was born my dog would get the shaft. They told me that I wouldn’t have enough energy to play with him, want to clean up after him, or even acknowledge him. Well, I am sad to report that they were right!

Our dog was like our first born. We would go to the park together, play catch, I would buy him treats all the time, cute outfits, and I even considered getting him a pal. We would run home to play with him and coordinate weekend adventures to include dog-friendly venues. He even slept on his own little bed next to ours.

Fast forward to post-baby and our dog is like the fat, snoring, slob-of- a-friend that won’t get off our couch. In fact, he’s been sleeping in the living room since I was pregnant due to his snoring being capable of waking up a narcoleptic.  

Don’t get me wrong…Bentley is honestly the best behaved and most loving dog that I have ever had, but the last thing that I am thinking about is playing fetch and I can’t help but feel guilty over it. I struggle with whether he would have a better life with someone else who had more time to devote to him or if I should just let it go, knowing that my son is going to have a best friend one day soon.  

How can I make such a big decision about an animal that has been a part of our family for years now? I know this issue is a reality for other new moms out there. What is your opinion?

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My Baby Stole My Sleep: Tips on Surviving Lack of Sleep Island

My Guest Post in Our Family World:

So, you’ve broken up with sleep? Yeah, so did I…We had a great relationship; full of ups and downs, but for the most part it was magical. And now you can’t even remember the last time you spoke, right? Me neither.  It may seem like you are stranded on Lack of Sleep Island, but you’re not alone. In fact, you are among the rest of us sleep-deprived people that dream of sleeping in till 9 a.m. And for all the lucky moms out there whose infants sleep until that time, just know that I don’t like you (just kidding! It’s more like I mom-envy you).

My son wakes up between 6-6:30 a.m. EVERY morning. It doesn’t matter what time he goes to bed or if he skipped a nap, it’s still the SAME time.  All the sleep experts out there gave me advice about putting him on a better schedule, feeding him cereal to fill him up=more sleep, keeping him awake more throughout the day will work or letting him cry it out.  Well, nada worked! You would think that at about six months it would get easier, but I have to admit that I am no dream boat on lack of sleep—in fact, I am Cruella De Ville.

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