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Advice for new (working) moms: What would you say?

Categories: Balancing Act, Parenting & Family, Your life


Our very good friends just had a baby, four weeks ago, to be precise. She is precious and amazing and they are tired and excited and overwhelmed. All par for the course. As we sat there, the little one napping on me an causing all sorts of nostalgia, my-friend-the-new-mom and I got into a bit of mom talk. Lack of sleep (sleep when the baby sleeps makes total sense), the reality of breastfeeding (much more painful and idyllic than she imagined), and trying to figure out how work and her other creative projects fit in now that she is a MOM and is completely in love with being one.

Boy, did that last one sound familiar. I didn’t want to be all grim about it, but what I told her is that even though my daughter is seven (OMG!) I don’t think I’ve got the winning formula down or even close to it. It’s something I juggle on a daily basis and sometimes, I don’t feel like I’m doing it very successfully. (I’m crossing my fingers that she appreciated an honest answer.)

I did want to be constructive so I shared some advice with my friend. I’d love to know what advice you’d give to a new working mom so please sound off in the comments.

  • Don’t be a martyr. I did this, it’s stupid and it is not good for anyone in the family. I didn’t leave my kiddo’s side for 3 months until I went to work, save for a few doctor’s appointments or late night walks after she was asleep. My husband and I didn’t go out without her until she was nine months old. After I went back to work I pumped for 45 minutes at a time, 4 times a day, because my milk was running out but I was determined that I needed to keep my kiddo breast milk-only for a certain number of months. I can keep going for pages.
  • Taking care of yourself is good not just for yourself but for your entire family. The inverse of “Don’t be a martyr” is TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! It sounds like such an obvious point and yet most new moms ignore it completely. Get sleep whenever you can. Do something that you enjoy, even if for a short time. Don’t feel guilty about it.
  • Everything comes in stages. Yes, for a while after you have a new baby the world turns upside down and it’s hard to do or focus or think about anything else. That is fine and normal! It does not mean that you will never go for those long morning walks you enjoy so much or feel ambitious about your work or look at your husband as anything other than a diaper-changing machine.
  • It takes a lot of people to raise a child so ask for help. I don’t know about a village or a city, but it takes a lot of people to raise a child, especially if you are working. If I think back on the last seven years I can count dozens of people who have helped to raise our kiddo. Sure, my husband and I are the primary peeps in her life, but there are grandparents, nannies, babysitters, pre-school teachers, ballet teachers, friends… the list is long and awesome. I feel lucky to have all these people in our and her life but I also know that I could have been much better in asking for their help early on.

So what are your favorite pieces of advice for a new working mom?

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3 comments so far...

  • One thing I really wish people had told me was that it can take a good while to get into even a relative groove when you go back to work. I think it took until my son was about one for me to feel like I got the schedule, had my hormones level out, and didn’t feel so utterly behind on everything. (That’s not to say I’ve got it figured out now, by any means. I just don’t feel quite as full of despair about every little moving piece as I did then).

    As for some practical tips:
    Definitely leave your baby before you head back to work a few times. Start small–an hour or two, then work up to 3-4 hours and before you go back to work make sure you got in at least one or two almost full days. It’ll help you figure out how the baby does, how you do, and what things you still need to figure out.

    If you’re going to pump at work, break that sucker out BEFORE the first day at the office. That thing was a little trickier than you might assume.

    You WILL be a better mom if you’re able to do some things for yourself sometimes. So work with your partner and your “tribe” to figure out how to get you even a little time to do that.

    Ginger  |  October 17th, 2011 at 5:08 pm

  • I would definitely agree with your advice and I must admit I’m still working on that “take care of yourself” part. One suggestion I feel really strongly about is more of a self-affirmation. Tell yourself “I’m a good mom.” I talk to a lot of moms that seem so hard on themselves or feel guilty for whatever, and I say to them “Bottom line. You are a good mom.”

    Lisa V.  |  October 24th, 2011 at 10:43 am

  • First off, find other working moms you can meet with on occasion. These friendships have helped me so much! We laughed, we cried, we drank wine together.

    Accept that nothing will be perfect and be okay with that. Being a working parent is a daily balancing act and you need to accept that something will fall through the cracks. This is a tough one but trust me, you need to just let go of certain things.

    Take the long view. Many times I had to think to myself that I was showing my daughter that she will be able to take care of herself in the future. That women can create their own destiny. There were many moments of guilt but now that she is in college she tells me I was a great mom (phew!).

    And, while you may have less time with your kids make sure you take a few moments to focus, really focus on each child. They (and we) need that sense of connection on a daily basis.

    Addy  |  October 26th, 2011 at 1:51 pm