I had already prepared for the postpartum blues, they always come.
They come along with this feeling of missing out as well.
Everyone is flying high and here you are sulking and stagnant, you say to yourself.
Not don’t stop reading because you’re done with childbirth. Lol.
You will learn a lot from this if you’ve been off your career or business for some time to face family and you feel left out!
I shared this fear with my friend Yetunde, and she had mentioned that I take the season as an opportunity to get deep in prayers, personal revival & meditation.
Having another baby after 6 years sure had its up and down sides for me. I am however grateful for my new baby Joella. She is so beautiful and we have no regrets expecting and having her.
I must however mention that nothing can fully describe the feeling of dealing with lochia, leaky boobs, the milk let-downs, or sometimes none at all, mood swings and recurring visitors with whom you have to smile always. This is all in the midst of feeling like you’ve missed out on real life and work.
In America and most other developed parts of the world, the gender gap in career progression for women has been arguably unfair as housework is expected to be paid for just as other welfare opportunities.
For us in Africa, it seems more normal for us for women to care for the home fully; your reward comes when you ‘eat the fruit of your labour’ as they say. The economic conditions has not given so much opportunity to not work outside of the home, because the truth is most of us women need to work to support our families financially in this part of the world.
Data from the International Labour Organisation & Gallup after reviews from Nigerian women tells us that 48% of us Nigerian women want to work and also take care of the family, 32% want to work full time while 17% would rather be stay-at-home moms.
If 48% of women want to combine work and home care, then there would be a need for more strategic decisions to be made for the ease of being successful at both.
I’d not go into the common argument of whether balance or integration may be achieved when with children in the childbearing stages; it all goes down to what success means to you.
I’d therefore simply share my tips for bouncing back when you feel the inertia envelopes you; the feeling of being out of place and missing out because you had a baby or actively raising children.
1. DEFINE WHAT SUCCESS MEANS TO YOU:
I found that my social media timeline had been that of women who were ‘slaying’ already with flat tummies and fully made up faces barely after getting out of the labour room. It started to affect how I looked into the mirror, so I unfollowed them as Step 1.
Weeks after having my baby I was still struggling to teach her how to latch properly for milk so why would I put myself under pressure?
I was already checking up in work by the way and enjoying the bond with my baby which is exactly what I wanted.
Most times as women, our major challenge is that we do not handle distractions well.
We easily get swayed by what looks good, even though it may not be the best for us at the time.
Now that baby is getting older, I am now gradually getting my body back.
Yours might be later.
You might not wish to resume back to work or you may choose to pivot in your career.
I assure you that you will find women like you killing it in your industry while all you have is the baby in your hands. You will question yourself sometimes, but you must never let it overwhelm you.
You must understand that life is in seasons.
Define what you want now and stick to it.
2. YOU WILL NEVER GET THIS TIME AGAIN:
As Joella keeps growing, I keep wondering if she’s had enough kisses from me or I’ve taken enough photos of each milestone. This may sound petty but trust me such simple things as this, money cannot buy!
Be careful not to ‘over plan’ for the future that you miss out on precious moments such as this.
Plan your baby’s natural meals. Plan that matching outfit. Yes, dote on the baby!
Learn to live in the present.
Miss out on whatever you want to miss on your career or business for the new blessing on your hands.
Of course, in my case, I was still checking in, but not working full time yet till the end of my maternity leave.
I also already have good hands on the job and did a lot of delegation before my leave began though.
I recommend this, but if by chance you were unable to get this done as you would have wanted, I suggest you fully enjoy the present, because what is lost is lost.
When you admit that some things have been lost, it gives you the grace to change perspectives and bounce back in fuller force.
A wise man once said, “Sometimes, when things are crumbling, hurry not to salvage them. Let them crumble. You will learn your lessons and begin afresh, even wiser and better”.
3. NOW START PLANNING:
At our last 360 Moms Hangout, I listened attentively to the breakdown of career planning that one of the speakers shared. I think more women need to be aware of this.
As women, our biological make up is easily predictable, albeit for the avoidance of saying this may be one of the limitations we have.
Issues such as Family Planning, relocation plans, career choices and so on are covered in your Career Planning Guide. For instance, some families choose to focus on their kids for the first few years of marriage, whilst some prefer to space their child rearing so they can combine careers.
What choice is yours?
When you feel you have missed out on your career growth or lost touch in business, it is not the time to heap blames on yourself or feel sorry, it is a time to ask yourselves questions and focus on planning.
What skills do I need to learn before returning to work? What career best suits my life purpose and drive for life? Am I ready to pivot now if need be? Can I still have the same number of children I wished for? What if my husband’s transfer is effected?
Do I just want to revive that business or return to school & paid employment?
These and many more would help you bounce back and return to your career re-empowered.
4. KEEP IN TOUCH:
At the time you feel out of place, resist the temptation to lock yourself out of meaningful relationships. If you eventually decide to be a stay-at-home mom, you should feel free to join communities of women doing same.
If you choose to return to work, you need to keep in touch with your colleagues & industry friends and ask questions.
Avoid shying away from meet-ups and be not engulfed by the fear of looking stupid or wrong.
Keeping your networking game strong can help you win 5 times better because you keep abreast of various opportunities and you get to catch some fun too.
You can also keep in touch by reading books, keeping in touch with the news and trends in your chosen career or business.
5. FLY AFRAID:
This month makes the exactly some years, I think 3 years that I officially resigned my 9-5. I believe that was the greatest test of my courage till date.
Of course there were so many factors, but I’m glad I did it afraid.
I am currently running a fast-growing child nutrition company; AugustSecrets with all the ups and downs it is by far the best decision I have taken in my life.
I am not insisting you must leave your job suddenly.
I beg you please be very sure. Understand the season you are in; if it’s the right time to move or not.
I am only reminding someone who needs an assurance again and they are sure such a decision as leaving their jobs is the best for them.
It is very important that you seek counsel and trust God and what greatness lies within you before you fly.
In my case, I was already running the business by the side due to the flexibility my job afforded me.
Count your costs, prepare for the worst case scenario, but if you believe it is time to fly or pivot, be not afraid.
Your child, everyone, and you, will be fine in the end.