Tag: working mum

Chronicles Of A Working Mum – Tips To Help On Your Breastfeeding Journey

Chronicles Of A Working Mum – Tips To Help On Your Breastfeeding Journey

I love being a working mother, I love being able to have my “own identity” at work and earning my own money. I love being a mother slightly more though, and my children are by far the greatest gift I have ever been given and the most important thing in my life.

The hardest thing you will ever have to do is “go back to work” after having a baby. I have been extremely blessed so far in my career to work for organizations that are flexible in terms of hours and working conditions, something I am pleased to say is becoming easier in South Africa. I only truly “went back to work” with my eldest, and I did that for 4 months before finding a role that allowed me to work from home and be with my boys for over 4 years. Now on baby 3 I find myself “returning to the workplace” once again, leaving a little 3 month old baba at home.

Yes, part of me wants to “run back to the office”. Lets be honest here, and don’t judge me, having been a “stay at home” mum and a “working mum”, it’s a hell of a lot easier on some days to run away to the office and let your caregiver take care of the crying, nap times and feeds. A large part of me however, also wants to stay at home and soak in every single cuddle and sweet smile. The years fly by and in the blink of an eye she will be walking and talking. But, like 90% of South Africa’s women, I need to go back into the office and I am beyond grateful that I have a super nanny to look after my babygirl and I don’t need to put her into a creche yet.

The hardest part of going back to work is always the preparation stage. If you are breastfeeding, it’s making sure whenever you have a free moment, that you are pumping milk to freeze. It’s getting baby used to the nanny/ caregiver and allowing them to learn each other. It means sitting in another room and using all your might not to run and hold baby at every single cry. Hearing your baby crying but knowing that you need to let another person get used to her and understand her cues, to learn her signals like you do as her mother.

The one thing I can do for my babygirl is feed her, and I wouldn’t give that up for the world. Breastfeeding for me is just the most special journey. I breastfed my eldest for over a year, my second son for over 2 years and although circumstances are different now, I fully intend to feed my babygirl for over a year too. Maintaining a corporate career and breastfeeding a baby is a full on commitment in itself and one that I certainly wouldn’t be able to do with some help along the way.

If you are planning on keeping up your supply whilst working there are a couple of things you can do to help you on your journey:

  • Firstly, a really great double pump, and make sure you get a hands free bustier. I’m currently using the Medela Freestyle and loving it! Its compact and small and has a fully chargeable lithium battery, meaning I can pop down to my car to pump (open plan offices and clear glass windows in meeting rooms aren’t great for pumping). It takes 17 minutes from start to finish for me to pump out a full feed for Raya, and with the hands free bustier I can even carry on working. Nothing makes you feel more like a superwomen then multitasking 🙂 They key is to try and pump as close to baby’s normal feeding times as possible. I make sure I have enough of a freezer stash available to last a week or two and then whatever I pump that day gets replenished. As soon as I am at home, baby feeds from me as normal.
  • Mrs Milk Lactation Bars – Different to traditional lactation cookies in that Mrs Milk provides nutrition, for both mum and baby. “Mrs Milk” bars are fantastic for busy mama’s, not only providing you with key “milk boosting” ingredients like fenugreek, flax and brewers yeast, but also providing you with nutrition and energy for the day ahead. Calories are important when breastfeeding and life is chaotic! We often forget things like breakfast or snacks when you are running between work and kids, and Mrs Milk bars are the perfect in between! They fill you up with all the right things and come in two flavours, the classic and the green apple and moringa (my favourite).
  • Lactation Cookies – I have also been munching my way through “Nursing Mama” cookies. The ULTIMATE pick me up treat 🙂 No more mid afternoon or late night choccies for me, because these lactation cookies curb every craving. They are super yummy and come in 3 flavours, coconut and almond (my favourite), peanut butter and chocolate as well as white chocolate and almond. There is even a range to help curb morning sickness.  I find some of the flavours a little sweet, but I love the fact that you can buy pre-mixes, because honestly, who has time to run around looking for ingredients like flax seed and brewers yeast? When I bake the pre-mixes I just add a little less chocolate or sugar in to suit my taste.
  • Hydration – Goes without saying. Water=Milk, in this case anyway. If you do not increase your hydration, you will not produce enough breastmilk. It’s that simple. So whether its herbal, nursing teas, or plain old water; drink drink drink!
  • Finally a crucial item you need to consider, and it just occurred to me whilst I was pumping in the car, is your clothing! So here’s a HUGE shout out to companies like Cherry Melon, Sophie and Jane as well as Mama Noo nursing, who make breastfeeding friendly underwear or clothes. There is a BIG difference in being able to pump or feed discretely when it comes to the clothes you wear. Cherry Melon has some fantastic feeding cami’s that unclip at the strap, I wear these under my work clothes everyday, which allows me to maintain a sense of dignity whilst pumping 🙂

Wherever you are in your breastfeeding journey, know that you aren’t alone. Its tough but it is manageable. Its also a very personal journey, so if you feel that the natural cycle has come to an end, that okay too. This post though is here to encourage you. You can do it, if you want to. There will be ups and downs and ebs and flows, but we have incredible support in this motherhood community, and if you feel you don’t have any, I am here for you!

Finding My Balance

Finding My Balance

I’ve always been a believer that if you manage your time properly then you can fit most things into your life and for the most part I still believe that. Managing your time and prioritising what’s most important is hard and takes practice  but it’s not impossible. However, something I’ve realised lately is that there is only so much time in the day and it’s not physically possible to do it ‘all’.

I was up last night thinking about balance, well the concept of it anyway. Everything you see these days points to “Finding a Balance”, magazines, health seminars, articles on how to create the perfect “work/life” balance. Is it possible to actually achieve a balance? Honestly? I don’t think so . You will never be able to balance all aspects of your life all at one time. Life has seasons, and chapters, and it ebbs and flows. “Balance” is not static, it’s a state of constant flux. The pressure we put on ourselves to try and equalize “life” and “work” is ridiculous. I honestly think the drive to achieve “a balanced” daily lifestyle could lead to put so much additional pressure on ourselves.

Raising children is hard enough, and then there’s building your career. Life is a constant balancing act of work, time with children, school runs, lunch appointments, if you are lucky you get to squeeze in a gym session, but when do we stop? When do we just breathe and take a moment?

If we just accept the fact that some weeks may be easier than others, some weeks you may get to gym 3 times a week, and others you may skip completely, but you know what, that’s OK! As long as you don’t lose sight of your greater goal/intention, you can only do the best you can. I LOVE my time at New Body Studio. I adore my Pilates, Yoga, Ballet and yes SOMETIMES even Rebound. More than the exercise itself I love connecting, having a good chat and spending time with like minded people. I am far from a fitness freak, but every person needs their “something” whether its immersing yourself into art classes, cooking up a storm, walking in the wild or perfecting your tree. Its important to take time out for self care, to reconnect your soul and mind. Try and find your thing and always keep sight of it.

We have to stop thinking that there will be a magical moment where it all pans out. A place where we will suddenly juggle work, family, self-goals and still roll into bed at 10 pm. There are not enough hours in the day! Life involves constant adjustments and priority shifts. You put focus into one area, and another area has to step back for a while. Some weeks I may work until 3 everyday and get to do fun activities with the boys, and others I may only get home in 5, just in time for dinner, bath and bed time routines. On those nights, I cherish my snuggles and kisses that much more. Not being able to take my boys out and about when they are on holidays and I’m in the office pushes my mommy guilt through the roof! I wish I could just show them everything the world has to offer, It doesn’t make me a bad mother, it makes me a normal mother! Trying to balance life in heels. Months may fly by where I don’t make one on one time with my friends, I feel like I’m the worlds crappiest friend or sister. Yet other months we may see each other 3 times in 2 weeks. The ability to see beyond the “black and white” balance is what I’m trying to get at. I need to stop focusing on trying to cram all things into one day, but step back and evaluate what matters and reallocate time to those things.

Let go of “trying to be perfect”! People living “perfect” lives and posting about them online can be daunting for those who live a normal life and are constantly scrolling. Don’t succumb to the pressure, the idea of perfectionism is hugely subjective. If you can accept that no one is perfect and absolutely no human being has the perfect balance you will let go of the guilt. Go easy on yourself mama, one step at a time, one foot in front of the other.

So yes some weeks I may cram in a million crafts and adventures with my boys, and other days I am a Martha Stewart extraordinaire. Sometimes I even get it right and manage my 3 days of exercise per week, or push out 3 blogs in a week, but mainly I’m just trying to find a way to get through my to do list, one point at a time. From high heels to high chairs, trying to balance work, life, motherhood and marriage. Life is beautiful! With all of its chapters and seasons. If I ever find the magic formula I’ll let you know 🙂

Returning to work after baby – tips to help you through

Returning to work after baby – tips to help you through

Returning to work…. Three simple words to send a feeling of dread down any new mothers spine … The cause of stress, anxiety and a few grey hairs I’m sure. We can all agree it’s a painful time. Mum guilt is real.

In South Africa we are not as blessed as our European colleagues who can get up to one full year off, though we are a great sight better off than moms in the USA, who typically receive NO paid maternity leave. But at 3 months old, You have just started to bond with your baby, your cute little cherub is actually starting to show some signs of personality and independence. You have just begun to learn your baba’s cues, yet suddenly you’re preparing to leave them with a caregiver of some sort. It’s completely understandable that’s it’s so stressful.

Coupled with the nerves of leaving your baby behind, you also have to deal with your position at work. Will things have changed? Did your colleagues manage your work load smoothly, or did they do it better than you perhaps?

Heres a little advice I can give, based on experience, to help you through.

This too shall pass. Actually, that may become one of my life’s motto’s. It gets easier with time.

Millions of women go back to work after maternity leave. Breathe. You can do this!

Remember that your entire world has just changed, you are dealing with a change in dynamics at home, sleep deprivation, it will take some time to get used to. Go easy on yourself.

Don’t be afraid to enjoy your own time – I can actually laugh when I say that when I went back to work with my eldest, I almost ran out of the front door that first morning. I was lucky though, I had a nanny that I trusted (and continue to trust) tremendously, and at the time, I had slightly flexible hours. I relished the fact that I could get a break from worrying about nap times and smelling of sick up. Being a SAHM is rough yoh!

Nurture your support system – It really does take a village. Make sure that you trust and respect your chosen caregiver, go with your gut and make sure you are comfortable. Ensure that your carer is comfortable with your expectations and has time to adjust to baba before hand. Make sure they know about correct dosages of Panado and signs to check in nappies.

Don’t be afraid to cry – Lets be honest, Mum guilt is VERY real! Remember though, you’re providing for your baby. You’re bringing home money that may better your child’s life. You’re are teaching your child that a woman can have a successful career outside of the home.

If you are breastfeeding don’t be shy about it – There are laws in place to protect you as a new mum. Find out from your HR department what rooms are private and available to use. I used to prop my chair up again the back of the door, because of course It didn’t lock 🙂  Car journeys are also surprisingly the best use of time for pumping. Aint nothing like a traffic jam on the way home with hard boobs 🙂 If you can invest in a great hands free kit, Medela offers a fantastic range and put your car journey to good use.

Stock up on supply – Again if you are breastfeeding you need to start at least a month in advance of building up your freezer supply. I started a bit too late and ended up working myself into a mess making sure baby had enough.

The anticipation is way worse than the reality – Its amazing how you will slip right back into the routine. While the time apart is difficult, it does make you cherish the time you do spend together.

I know from experience your baby wont “forget you”, you’ll see his/her little face light up the second you walk back in the room. Yes your baby may cry when you leave him in the morning, but it will stop, and then you’ll cry the day he doesn’t cry, but its OK, he’s comfortable. It gets easier. The time you do have is more precious and you learn to value quality. Don’t be afraid to find out if your company has flexible hours or family support. You’ll be surprised at how many South African companies are adopting a more global, adaptive structure.

If you have returned to work after baby, what tips helped you get through things?