Balance,  Personal Growth

Lessons Learned as a Working Mom

How quickly a school year goes by. Ten short months ago, I was preparing for the end of my maternity leave and getting ready to send Olivia off to daycare for the first time. Now, it’s already summer time again and we are back to having fun together everyday. Who knew how much of a whirlwind my first year as a working mother would be. From the constant sickness that comes with the transition to daycare, to rediscovering my teacher identity, to finding balance as a working mother, this year has taught me a lot about myself and about what matters. It also taught me a lot about finding balance between my own personal growth, my health, and being a mother. Some weeks of this school year were definitely better than others. For example, there were the two weeks before winter break where I literally had to take S E V E N days off of work because of illness, my mother had to come help take care of all of us, and we were all so sick we had to cancel Christmas.  But, there were many weeks where I took the time to find balance, care for myself, and prepare. Because of this, I was able to be a better mom, teacher, and individual, and I took strides towards my ultimate goal, being able to teach, balance, and live (my best life). 

Here are five lessons, I’m taking with me through summer and into next school year. 

  1. Routine is necessary. When I stick to it, I am at my best. I have tried many ways to schedule and organize throughout the years including different planners and systems. I have scrapped them and started over a million times. Sometimes I feel the need to be too perfect with the idea of routine. I make one, write it beautifully in my planner, and then when something does not go according to the plan, I feel like a complete failure. This year I finally found a system that works for me, and thus, helped me stick to my routines. I started using The Happy Planner, and I could not be, well, happier! I love the system as a whole. I have a specific place for my budgeting, work schedule for each day, fitness tracking, and personal to do lists. I also purchased some of the sticker packs, which make getting my life organized a lot of fun. This is a planner I am going to stick with as it has helped me better meal plan, get my savings in order, and keep my obligations straight.  
  2. Wellness has to be a priority or slowly, but surely everything falls apart.  Throughout this school year, I had many times (more than I would like to admit) when I felt like everything was just crumbling around me. I was stressed by work. I was stressed by leaving Olivia. I was stressed by being with Olivia (hellooooooo toddler life). I was stressed by not having any time for myself. I was hungry. I was tired. I was run down. The list goes on and on. My emotions definitely got the best of me at times. But, I noticed that when I took the time to truly care for myself, physically and emotionally, I thrived. I was a better mom, teacher, and wife. This is going to sound silly for a thirty year old, but when I give myself to wash and moisturize my face, floss my teeth, and pack a healthy lunch before I go to bed, everything just goes a lot better. I don’t snap. I feel calm and taken care of. 
  3. I need to workout in the morning, or I will not do it at all. Anyone else? So many times this year, I made a promise to myself that I would workout after we put Olivia to bed…and rarely did I follow through. However, this spring I got into a routine of waking up early and doing 20-30 minutes of yoga before getting ready for work. When I did this, I felt AMAZING. I had more energy and was able to set my intentions for the day. I used Yoga With Adriene on YouTube. She has a huge library of content with videos that focus on many different things, and I can always find something that fits what I need. I have since gotten out of this routine (dang it!), but am getting back into it now that summer has started. I want to get this part of my routine set this summer so that when I go back to work I stick with it. 
  4. Meal planning and prep is a weekly must for our family.  This is something I have known, and is something I have written about before, but going back to work this year really solidified the importance of this routine for me. We spend time each weekend prepping foods to not only make our week easier, but also to make sure we are eating healthy and staying nourished. There are many kitchen tools I love for this, but a new one to my routine this year was a PackIt lunchbox. If you are not familiar with these, the entire lunch box lays flat and goes into the freezer. This way, I put my lunch it in each morning and it stays cold until I am ready to eat. It has been such a time saver for me at work as the fridge is out of the way from my classroom. 
  5. It’s ok to take time for myself. When I first started back to work, I was so stressed about leaving home at the last possible moment and running out of work as soon as possible to get Olivia from daycare. I wouldn’t want to leave her to go out at night or on the weekend for fear of missing her. The feeling was gut wrenching, almost painful. I  always want to be with Olivia, but little by little, I started to realize that it is completely ok for me to want to do other things besides be with my child for every possible moment. I am still a good mom. It doesn’t mean I love her any less. Brandon and I have started to go out more. I went on a girls’ weekend trip away from her. I go out more with my friends. And still, everything is ok. In fact, I am much calmer and happier than when I was stressing so much during the fall and winter. I can show up and be a better version of myself for Olivia because I took the time to care for myself as an individual.

I still have so much to learn about being a working mom.  It really is not easy, but it is definitely rewarding. While part of me wishes that I could spend all day, everyday with Olivia, part of me really does enjoy having my career and growing as my own person.  It has taken me a long time and this journey of lessons learned to be able to say that out loud. I am always looking for advice and ways to build my tribe of mamas, so I would love to hear if you have any tips, tricks, or things you love that help you balance being a working mom! Looking forward to continuing this journey in the years to come 🙂 

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