The day after I came home from the hospital, I quickly realized that all the housework I had been doing until the day before I delivered was suddenly impossible. I could barely walk let alone stay awake!
Getting help at home during parental leave
My mom who lives close by, took a couple days off from work to help out around my home. My grandma who lives with me took care of all the cooking. This gave my husband and me time to rest and take care of our little one.
My husband and I had decided to take 3 months off for parental leave. During that time, various family members came to visit and help out. We were fortunate to have family that wanted to help and were willing to do it on our terms.
I know it’s hard to set boundaries with family members, and so much of it is cultural. But it is was important for my sanity. With my own parents, I pushed them to let me know at least 48 hours in advance instead of dropping in anytime they felt like it.
I also asked them to watch my little one for 2–4 hour blocks of time, so I could take a nap or just get out of the house.
With my in-laws I kept my terms straightforward: come anytime after the first month, enjoy the baby, help out with household chores, and watch the baby, so I could get some rest.
I was really thankful to have as much help during those months, because our little one was quite colicky and it was hard to soothe him and take care of ourselves and our home.
I’ve also heard from some of my friends who didn’t have family close by or could take time off, ended up hiring nannies or postpartum doulas.
Before my delivery, I kept hearing the following from close friends and family:
“I struggled with bouts of the baby blues months after my delivery.”
“My wife suffered from postpartum depression.”
“It took me more than 2 years to heal my body.”
“I had to go back to work 6 weeks after my baby was born and I was still exhausted.”
Instead of thinking that things would be different for me, I faced reality and decided that I wasn’t special.
I needed help to heal
I’ll admit it felt great to get back to working out 5 weeks postpartum. Having that time to getaway and decompress worked wonders.
It also felt great to not have to worry about making dinner, taking out the trash, cleaning the house, and so on.
For once in my life, I gave myself permission to sit on my butt.
There were a few times I’d get worked up, and was fortunate to have a partner remind me to relax.
As parental leave came to an end, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be returning to part-time or full-time work, but I knew I’d need help nonetheless.
How I found a childcare provider that met my needs
My husband I figured we’d start with a part-time nanny and then ramp up.
We chose this over daycare because we preferred having someone come to our home. It would give us a chance to take breaks throughout our workday to see our little one. And we were fortunate to be able to afford this option.
We did a lot of due diligence as we reviewed nannies
I checked out a few different care providers including Care.com, Bambino, and SitterCity. SitterCity seemed to provide the most straightforward experience. For about $100, I could post the type of care provider I was looking for and I’d receive responses for people who met the criteria. I likened it to recruiting for my business.
We immediately received a handful of people who were interested. We interviewed a few either in-person or on the phone. There were two that we liked in particular based on their experience, demeanor, availability, and of course price point. We did reference calls on both as well as a background check.
One of them was farther away then we would have liked. We were concerned about rush hour traffic and being flexible enough to get to us at a moment’s notice if needed or stay later if we needed the help.
With the remaining care provider, we decided to do a test run. We had them come and take care of our little one for half a day. Unfortunately, the day before our first test run, they called to tell us they had accepted an offer for a full time job elsewhere. We were disappointed but they were considerate enough to recommend someone else to help.
So we went through the test run with the care provider they recommended, who turned out to fantastic!
Parents talk a lot about turnover and absenteeism with childcare providers
It’s hard to have guaranteed childcare. Daycares won’t take a sick kid, have long waitlists, and a lot of nannies burn out. While it’s hard to guard against sickness and emergencies, I wanted to make sure that our childcare provider was aligned with us. To that end, we setup an LLC to provide all the benefits a business would pay its employees. Hence, we pay our nanny the hourly rate requested, provide paid vacation time, and pay into other benefits such as health insurance and unemployment.
Yes it’s an upfront expense, but I think of it as an investment. An investment in my little one, and my ability to continue to have the freedom to run my company.
I eased back into work by working part-time, about 3 days a week.
I spent the first two weeks at home training our care provider. Since our little one had colic we figured it would be challenging for anyone who was getting to know him. During those two weeks, I was able to suss out our care provider’s experience level and see how coachable they were. And again, we were pretty fortunate to have found the right fit.
After the first month of work, even with all the help at home, I was exhausted. Though I was only working 3 days a week, I had a 2 day commute, and I was spending 4 days caring for my little one. I didn’t have a lot of down time for myself. I decided to add 2 half days to our childcare schedule, and it has helped tremendously. I work 4 days a week and have a little extra time during the week to either work, workout, run some errands, or just relax.
Taking time for myself
Because I love my baby I always want to be with him if I’m not working. It took me awhile to realize that this can be exhausting. So once a month, I get a whole day to myself. I like to call this mommy’s day off (hat tip to Ferris Bueller). On this day, my todo list is no longer than 3 items and those are usually activities like reading, yoga or getting a massage. I’m fortunate to have a partner who supports mommy’s day off!
Gone are the days of my 60-day Bikram Yoga challenges, but I do my best to squeeze in 3–4 workouts a week. 2 days of strength training and 2 days of cardio or just a long hike or walk.
Aside from working out, I’ve become a pretty voracious reader. You can check out my GoodReads account here. Reading helps me relax, stay current, and can be squeezed in-between or during other activities like commuting, pumping, and when my little one naps.
All other hobbies got put on the back burner.
So that’s my new life at home, and I gotta say I love it! I don’t feel like anything is really missing. I’m very fortunate to not feel overwhelmed because I have a lot of help at home thanks to my partner, my family, and our nanny.
Seeing the struggles my parents went through, I always aspired to be a calm and patient mom. Running my own business has given me the freedom to be that so far. And I’m sure in a few years, my little one will be curious to get out and explore more of the world, and I’ll be happy to tag along with him!