I am a work-from-home parent, a relatively new category of parenting types that is a hybrid between stay-at-home and working parent. I feel fortunate to have the incredible opportunity to build my professional practice while having the flexibility to prioritize around my children's schedule. There have been difficult moments with childcare or feeling as though my children are suffering because of my meeting schedule or a deadline, but overall the opportunity has been more rewarding and fulfilling than the sum of all frustrations.
Like many parents I have struggled to find the right balance between work versus home and have grappled deeply with consideration of becoming a full time stay-at-home parent. The voice inside chatters with insecurities about not moving forward with a career I worked very hard to establish and notions about stereotypes on stay-at-home parents rally in the back of my mind. So, for this year I have decided to quiet all the noise in my head and resolve to give myself the gift of a maternity leave.
With the birth of my first two children I hung onto plans for returning to work with a traditional maternity leave of twelve weeks after the birth of my firstborn and a more loosely structured six week leave with the birth of my second child. This time around I am more fully embracing the idea of a maternity leave, despite having my own practice to sustain, without any reservation whatsoever. There are three important reasons for this shift in my thinking:
1. No matter how many times you experience childbirth it never gets easier or less demanding. There are quite a few tips and a fairly lengthy list of advice I would give to myself looking back on my first delivery. I was naive about the experience and recovery and with each subsequent delivery I utilized the knowledge gained to empower me further, One of the most important lessons learned is that it doesn't get any easier. The night feedings, colicky episodes, and emotional rollercoaster require just as much stamina each and every time. Allowing myself time to heal and rest when possible is necessary and invaluable.
2. The "big kids" still need you and there is never enough time to meet everyone's needs. My older two children are twenty-one months apart and at the time the challenges of attending to two children felt outrageous. With the birth of our third I felt better prepared for the chaos and knew that I wanted to allow myself time to focus on each of the boys individually. With the oldest having just turned five years old he is astutely aware and equally excited for the arrival of his newest brother, yet he still yearns for some of his own time with mommy.
3. I want to take in every possible moment of this time I will never get back. I know this will be my last baby and with that comes the fact that this will be the last time I have to soak in the experience of waking for night feedings, catching the first smile, and soaking up those newborn sleep snuggles. While I have vivid and emotional memories of these experiences with my older two children, my desire to be fully present in every aspect of what will unfold in the coming months is greater than I could have ever imagined. I have every intention of allowing myself to be spoiled in the celebration of these moments without worry or concern for any other commitment than to be exactly where I am in that moment.
I encourage every parent to consider giving yourself the gift of a maternity leave, whether you are welcoming a newborn, enjoying the toddler madness, living the teenage years, or whatever phase of parenting you find yourself embracing. Plan a vacation, take a staycation, or simply walk alway from daily commitments for a short amount of time to celebrate the magic unfolding in front you as your children grow. The birth of each of my children has taught me important life lessons that have changed my outlook on the world and reshaped my views on so many topics. I expect to continue learning throughout this last maternity leave I will be fortunate to have and in the time I will take to be with my children in the future.
ABOUT CHRISSY K
I am mom to three boys (one with several life-threatening food allergies) who will never own too many picture books or create Pinterest-worthy snacks. Simply Chrissy K is a place to find helpful tips on parenting that stem from my work with families as an educational consultant and parenting coach.
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Based on a work at http://www.strongtots.com