A dilemma many working mothers face: do I go back to work or do I stay home with my little one(s)? I remember having this internal dialogue for months during my maternity leave. The mere thought of leaving my child to the care of someone else for eight hours a day shook me to my core and left me feeling miserable for days on end.
As my maternity leave came to an end, I couldn’t fathom not having the flexibility and spontaneity with which I was spending my days with my son. I began to stress about how I would manage doctor’s appointments, housework, and cooking if I were working full-time. Most of all, I thought about how much I would miss my son.
I made a list of pros and cons of returning to work and at the end of a tumultuous journey, I decided to return to work. I love my job and I kept thinking about how hard I worked to get the position that I had. I felt that if I were to stay home with my son, whom I love more than anything in the world, I would feel unfulfilled. Although being a mother to my son was the most important job in the world, I felt like I had a lot to offer my work as well and I felt I should at least give it a try.
It has been about four months now and I’ve learned some things that have helped me keep my head above water. I do have to admit, I still feel like I’m drowning some days and I sometimes revisit my decision to have gone back to work. You may be in the same boat and may feel like there’s too much to do and not enough time or energy. Especially on those days when you’re too exhausted after work to deal with your toddler’s tantrums and it takes every ounce of your willpower to remember all those articles you’ve read about gentle, peaceful parenting.
When you feel the tears starting to form in your eyes and you start thinking “how did I get to this point?” When you finally put the baby to sleep and need some downtime after a long stressful day at work. When you count how many hours of sleep you’ll get if you sleep now…in half an hour…in an hour… knowing that your child may wake up during the night and interrupt that. You are not alone. It’s a struggle- whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or a working mom-chances are, it’s going to be a roller coaster ride.
I learned over the last few months that I had to do whatever I needed to do to cope during this extremely busy time of my life and I’m going to share some tips that may help others through the same thing.
One of the most important lessons I have learned since returning to work was to adjust my expectations of myself. I had to realize that I couldn’t be all things to all people. The moment I realized this and accepted it, the less stressful I felt my life became and the less guilt I had. I couldn’t make it to every event, birthday party, playgroup, family function and outing with friends. I had priorities and had to realize that dedicating quality time to my son on weekends and days off was the priority.
I hired someone to help with housekeeping once a week which was a tremendous help. Just a couple hours a week can go a long way and lift some of that stress off your shoulders.
I found a lady who makes food at home and sells it. I found someone else who was in the same boat as me and needed help with meals and we split the food and the cost in half which saved me a LOT of time and stress. I also looked up easy recipes that can be made in an hour or less and I spent an hour on Sundays cooking a meal which would usually last me a couple days.
I know this sounds cliché but please take care of yourself. Try to do one thing a day that makes you happy. Read a book. Listen to something relaxing. Watch an inspiring video. Ice cream. Call a friend. Take a long hot shower or bath. Do some yoga. Pray. Read Qur’an. This will be different for everyone. You will start to look forward to this “special time” everyday and it’ll be the force that pushes you to get through your day, knowing that at some point you’ll get to do whatever it is that makes you feel at peace.
Refocus and be mindful of your intention
This has been helping me when I get to those moments where I don’t know why I’m putting myself through such a challenge day in, day out. I reflect about my intention to do well at my job and to parent my child to the best of my ability. I feel that this energizes me and gives me a little push when I feel like things are going downhill.
There’s still a lot for me to learn in terms of balancing the priorities in my life and I know there will be hard times, yet I try and remind myself of the blessings that Allah (swt) has showered us with. The days are long and the nights can be longer, but you are not alone and the work you do is known and recognized by Allah (swt). Make duaa that Allah (swt) help you through these difficult times and reach out for help when you need it. The best things in life are worth working hard for and inshaAllah you’ll reap the benefits of all the important work you’re doing.
Runda Ebied is a loving mother of one active toddler who is learning something new about her motherhood journey everyday. Runda is an Occupational Therapist and works with adults who are experiencing mental health difficulties. Runda has had experience working with children with behavioural and feeding difficulties and has developed such a passion for working with children. Runda loves to read and spend time with her son and her family and is striving to achieve that much sought-after work-life balance.