How to Not Hate Life after Maternity Leave
On my first day back to work after having our sweet babe, I avoided just about every coworker in my office. It wasn't because I didn't want to show off baby bath pictures or hear about the latest office dirt. It was simply because I couldn't make eye contact or even open my mouth to speak without bursting into tears.
I had just spent three months focusing on my family, going for warm walks (June baby!), watching the TODAY Show, and just slowing down. And in a flash, that world was gone, and I was thrust into a new world full of tearful daycare goodbyes, constantly rushing, and having to listen to the drone of the breast pump all. day. long.
Add to the mix grad school classes and trying to launch a freelance writing career, and we have ourselves the makings of a serious breakdown.
If you have recently returned to work and just know that you're meant to do something else, you can do it. There are so many opportunities out there, and little steps add up. Here is how to get started.
Know What You Want
The first step is always to define exactly what you want. It’s a lot easier and more fun to be pulled forward by what you want, rather than trying to escape what you hate. When I woke up for work every morning, I knew how terrible it felt to leave my baby. I definitely knew what I didn’t want, but I hadn’t yet defined what I DID want. And that is why I felt so stuck.
I didn’t know where I was going, so how could I tell if I was making progress? Tony Robbins says that the definition of happiness is GROWTH. It doesn’t matter if you have achieved your goal yet. As long as you’re moving towards it, you’ll feel good.
Take some serious time to think about what you’re moving towards. Read books, watch trainings, make a pinterest board. Don’t skip this step. Once you know exactly what you want, you can start moving forward.
Focus on the Good
This one seems obvious, but if you spend all day thinking about how much you hate your job, those are going to be some long effing days. You have GOT to start training your brain to see the good. I used to resist this idea. I was worried that if I started seeing the good stuff at work, that I wouldn’t feel as motivated to leave. I thought I had to be miserable to be propelled forward.
But it was the opposite. Once I decided to really engage at work - volunteer for committees, make sure I asked everyone how their weekend was, surprised coworkers with coffee - everything changed. I didn’t feel so drained at the end of the day, so I had more time and energy to grow my side hustle. New freelance projects started coming my way. I put in the work, and it paid off.
Enjoying parts of your job does not mean you’re giving up on your new career. It simply means you value your time, and you refuse to give up your happiness for a job.
Behave As If
Here is the easiest step in the process, and it’s going to feel amazing. If you want to be a work-at-home mom/mamapreneur/bossbabe, you have to start adopting that mindset, starting with behaving as though you’re already doing it.
I know, it’s a little tricky to wrap your head around it, but stay with me. Once you commit to working from home, it’s time to act as if you’ve already hit your goal. You’re already making a full-time income from home, so start planning.
Changing your mindset not only lets you take a big ‘ol exhale, it also gets the creative juices flowing. It reminds you of steps you need to take, such as figuring out freelancer taxes or deciding on childcare.
When I was working full-time, our daughter was in daycare across the street from Whole Foods. When I picked her up after work, we would sometimes walk over to split a vegan/gluten-free/sugar-free “cookie.” As we sat together, I would imagine that it was the middle of the day, and we were just on one of our many adventures. I still can’t think back to those visits without smiling, because it was the first time I allowed myself to really feel it.
And if you’re not sold yet, consider this. How will you hit your big goals if you don’t even allow yourself to feel them? You’ve got to lead with your energy, and the strategies will come.
Take Care of YOU
With a new baby and full-time job, you barely have time to grab a few hours of sleep, let alone spend the day at the spa or take a trip. It’s okay that you don’t have oodles of time for self-care, but it’s crucial that you carve out a few. We are human - we can’t possibly pour out our energy all day without burning out.
I used to feel guilty for ever taking 30 minutes to work out or take a nap. I felt that because I was gone so much during the week, that I should (and should want to) spend every moment with our daughter. But that just turned into our sweet baby hanging out with a zombie who could barely stay engaged.
I started small with a weekly yoga class on Friday afternoons and built up from there. What were some of your favorite hobbies pre-baby? Go to that barre class, experiment in the kitchen, go for a solo walk. There is just no substitute for a half hour of alone time.
You’ve Got This!
Listen, I hear you, I really do. Just writing this post brought back all those memories of feeling so guilty and hopeless. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen so much faster than you think. What are you building right now? Send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me about it. Saying it out loud makes it real :)
And if you’re ready to start planning your exit strategy, enter your info below to receive your free guide to everything you need to know before leaving your job.