Thriving at Work When You’re the Only Mom

set boundaries

Being a mom isn’t easy. It’s a lot of work to go through pregnancy, give birth, and then raise a child for the next 18 years. However, the only people who recognize the extent of this work are other moms. This can create a really frustrating environment for mothers who work with people without children — particularly in male-dominated workplaces — as you can begin to feel isolated around your coworkers.

Although the lack of sympathy for new mothers is outrageous at worst and disappointing at best, especially when compared to other industrialized countries, moms have been working around this since taking their place in the workforce. Even without a proper federally imposed maternal leave, mothers have babies and go back to work, ready to take on their jobs and to prove themselves to their peers — which is why the average mother works almost 100 hours each week.

However, there are a few ways to make this process easier on yourself. This includes talking to your coworkers and boss about expectations, setting boundaries, being emotionally prepared for anything, and staying positive. By mentally preparing yourself and others for what to expect, you’ll have an easier time getting back into the flow of things and thriving when you return.

Here are 3 Ways to Thrive at Work When You’re The Only Mom

1. Talk About Expectations

Although there are no federal protections for new mothers to spend time with their babies after giving birth, many employers are sympathetic and are willing to work with you to make time for you to have off. Many employers offer insurance plans that offer benefits that allow you to spend a few months of maternity leave with your baby before you come back to your job.

These can provide you with financial stability while you spend time healing your body and bonding with your newborn. However, if this is not a possibility with your job, there may be other options. Some employers offer remote work options, which allow you to work from home where you can keep an eye on your baby, while still getting your work done when you can. This can be a highly satisfying option for both parents and their employers if possible.

If this isn’t an option either, you can discuss what flexibility your employer is willing to provide and the expectations associated. Talking about what your boss and your coworkers expect from you during this time is important, as it will help clarify what they need out of you and what you need out of them in return to maintain a successful working relationship together.

2. Set Boundaries

However, even if you are working remotely or part-time, it’s important to set boundaries for communication. Communicating effectively is an important part of most jobs, and therefore, it’s vital that you can communicate well with your boss and coworkers, no matter what medium you’re talking through. Still, set boundaries about when you’re available and what channels you can be contacted through to ensure you put your well-being first.

Another important part of communicating with your employer is to draw clear lines in the sand about how much you’re able to do for them. Now that you have a small human relying on you 100 [percent] of the time, their well-being will always need to come before your job, as your job has several employees but your baby only has one mom — and your boss needs to understand that.

Therefore, even before the baby comes, you should work to set boundaries with your employer and coworkers. This can help ensure that everyone feels respected upon your return, recognizing that you all communicated with each other about your needs.

3. Mentally Prepare

Mentally preparing is an important part of being a mother in general. When you become a mom, you stop being in control of what happens in your life, as another person is now affected by your decisions. This can be a jarring change for many people, which is why it requires significant mental preparations to ensure you can handle it when it happens.

An employer can help you in your process toward being emotionally healthy and regaining your physical health by creating a healthy lifestyle culture at your workplace. By offering healthy snacks and a paid gym membership, employees will have some big barriers removed from their ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle. If your workplace offers these benefits, take full advantage of them, as they can greatly benefit your mental health.

It’s important to stay positive after having a baby. This can be an enormous change that many people aren’t ready for, and it can be really scary to take care of a new person and guide them through life. And being a working mom can often have stigmas surrounding it that you have to deal with. However, by communicating expectations, setting boundaries, and mentally preparing for the huge change that will come once you have your baby, you’ll be prepared to not only have your baby but to thrive at work, even when you’re the only mom around.

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Adrian Johansen
Adrian Johansen writes, parents, hikes, and has food adventures in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. You can find more of her writing  HERE.