From Stay At Home Mom to Working Mom

I have been looking forward to writing this post for a while, mostly because when I was a SAHM (Stay at Home Mom), I sought out blogs constantly. There were so many thoughts that swirled around my head, I wondered what other mom’s experiences were like.

When did they decide to go back to work?

Is there an ideal time to go back to work when you have kids?

What was it like to find the right daycare?

Is there a magical balance of working life?

On average, how many cups of coffee does it take to make it through the day as a working mom?

I promise you this, and I wear it proudly: I do not have it all figured out, but now that my son is nine, I have a cumulative of six years to reflect on wearing my badge of honor with a self-proclaimed title, “Working Mom-Life Survivor.” Actually, I could add in there “Working-Mom Life Survivor as a single mom.” Yes! Four of the past six years I have been a single mom and working full time.

Every experience is different, and I will do my very best to encourage you and be YOUR cheerleader because YOU GOT THIS, MAMA!

For me, I was a SAHM for 3 years: Three years of stay-at-home life with motherhood had its own challenges. No breaks. Being home all day. Being up all day and night with 1 1/2 to 3-hour intervals of breastfeeding. Teething. Juggling housework and spending time with a toddler. Potty training. The best part of being SAHM was being there for every single milestone my son achieved! His first words, first steps, being able to drink from a cup, learning colors.

I remember thinking about what it would be like the day I go back to work, and what working mom life would be like.

Tips on Going Back to Work after Having a Baby

Mindset: I wanted to go back to work when my son was preschool age (two years before Kindergarten). I felt the age of three would be helpful with my little guy learning about social interaction with other kids and gearing him up for Kindergarten. In my head, this would be the “perfect timing,” because he would have all day playtime and I could actually stand the thought of being apart from him. 

Reality: More difficult than I thought. Finding the “right place” for him with a caregiver was beyond stressful. We tried a few places, and the truth is, no one will take care of your child like you do. I had a very hard time coming to terms with this. What I found is the best place is child care or a preschool that you connect with and have constant communication with. They answer your calls no matter how many you feel you need to make, they send you updates throughout the day on request. Some places send pictures by email to let you know when they napped, how much they ate, etc. This was a dream come true and I felt up to date with his day while I was out conquering the working world.

When I reflect, the transition from being home a Stay at Home Mom to Working Mom went well overall because I felt my experience of motherhood carried over to my workplace. I knew resilience, the feeling of being knocked down from not being the perfect parent to coming back up swinging with new skills. I learned the importance of making a “schedule” and learning how to adapt when things didn’t go according to plan. The feeling of change was the “norm” because of how quickly our kids grow and change, how my body changed, how my mindset changed continually from adjusting the first time, becoming a mom. Don’t forget this! You have ALREADY done SO MUCH changing, becoming a mom was the “hard part”, remember? And what I was most proud of, my multitasking abilities were up 110% of what they were before I had my son. 

So I will take the time to answer my OWN questions, the same ones I had just a few years ago.

When did they decide to go back to work? Well, I’ll admit. I dipped my toe in the water before I jumped ALL in! First, I dabbled with a mothers day out program (3 days a week from 9AM-2PM) taking on work-related activities for the hours my son was at Mothers Day out as a practice. When my son was 3 and started preschool, I went back full time, 40 hours a week (M-F 9AM-5PM)

Is there a “best time” to go back to work when you have kids? Well, financially it is very helpful to go back as soon as possible. Overall, the best time is the time you are ready, pumping at work is possible. 

What was it like to find the right daycare? As I mentioned above, 

Is there a magical balance of work-life? I loved the podcast, Just add Sprinkles, Celebrating Motherhood a City Moms Blog Podcast (link) and found an episode titled: Work-Life Balance is A Joke! This episode gave me a new appreciation for myself, so THANK YOU CITY MOMS BLOG.

A quote I will share from the episode: “the concept of work-life balance a myth or a joke? It’s certainly not reality, at least for most of us” Amen. The podcast host shares how she struggles with this because she is constantly juggling the desire to do her work “well” and equally do her home life “well” which is a constant daily struggle. 

I can’t even begin to tell you how much of a connection I felt when I heard her VOICE saying this on the podcast. She shares guest, Samantha Ettus that wrote a book and interviews her throughout the episode, which was SO uplifting. She talks about recognizing your availability to take on extra tasks like volunteering for the bake sale. She notes, the busier you are the more you take on, saying “yes” to everything. I know that sounds crazy but I can relate! I feel like I started taking on MORE when I became a working mom. I got in the routine of this wholeheartedly, saying YES YES YES. She touched on mom guilt, juggling home life, kids, spouses and careers, and how guilt is #1 predator of women.

Y’all, in the episode, they share a mom in our sister site network… Meg Sacks from Jacksonville who wrote a post here I seriously am so thankful she took the time because I shed tears. This woman is REAL! 

On average, how many cups of coffee does it take to make it through the day as a working mom? Some days I lose count, BUT on average, twp cups in the morning and one mid afternoon (with an extra shot of espresso) NOW. This is definitely a struggle for me as a working mom. I have written about this in a previous post and want to touch on it again, because monitoring my caffeine intake is key and I am thankful I wrote about this in the past, Confessions from a Coffee Addict Mama because I have had a serious coffee addiction that quickly got out of hand right about the time I started working full time. Keeping tabs on the coffee intake is very important to me. For me, I would have it all day long and not sleep at night. 

In closing, I wish I could go back and give myself a pat on the back for ONCE when I was a Stay at Home Mommy. I recognized this years later, and I will share this with you: The feeling of accomplishment with work-related tasks was huge for me; it was a confidence boost I didn’t know I was missing. Why don’t I do the same at home? It was then that I realized I wasn’t giving myself time to celebrate my “wins” in parenting! 

Sarah Crilley
Sarah Crilley lives in Plano, Texas with her nine-year-old son Caleb, husband Nick, and adopted french bulldog Daisy. They are introducing the newest member of the family, Rocky Elliott the Hedgehog! (Yes . . . Hedgehog) With hands full balancing "working mommy-life", Sarah works full-time managing the team at Real News PR in Dallas. She is a lover of coffee, listening to podcasts, attending community events, social media, and writing! She enjoys connecting and sharing with other moms. Sarah has been a contributor for CCM since October 2016! She loves blogging and plans to incorporate video into some of her posts.