3 Things I’ve learned: Adjusting to my changed identity as a (paid) working mother

As I write this my daughter is having a nap, and I’m trying to enjoy my first day of vacation.

Keeping a baby/toddler entertained without just turning on the TV is a struggle (we’ve made an exception for cutting her nails, she can watch a cartoon then).

I’ll openly say that before we had our daughter I never realised how much of a struggle it is to achieve a balance that feels like a balance. And now I understand what the parents were going on about when they said they went to work to rest. I’m also rather grateful that my husband is now on paternity leave, we’re walking a mile in each other’s shoes. I can see how difficult it can be to focus on work sometimes with a baby/toddler in the background and he can see how difficult it is to entertain a baby/toddler all day every day.

I never realised how much less free-time I would have, and that’s just with one child! We don’t have any family support; no parents to take our daughter for a few hours. It’s just us.

But since we’ve had our daughter, I’ve learned a few things to help me adjust to my new identity, here are a few of them:

Empathy

I’ve become a more empathetic person. By no means was I callous before we had our daughter, but I’ve become a lot more mindful to try and see things from someone else’s perspective; the struggles they face; the needs they have etc.

While I probably could’ve learned this without becoming a mother, constantly seeing to someone else’s needs 24/7 had increased the chance of me gaining more empathy for others.

Drawing a line

At the end of each work day I write notes in my work diary to “close” the day. It mainly consists of me writing a to-do list for the next morning. It also means that if some ideas etc come to mind in the evening, then I can clear my mind by writing these ideas down then coming back to it the next day.

I’m still working on becoming fully mentally present when I’m with our daughter and I think this is a step in the right direction.

Changed working hours

There’ve been a few days where I had to take a longer lunch break etc. Fortunately my project has some flexibility with regards to working hours. Roughly the same time each day I go offline, and then after my daughter has gone to bed, if I had to take a longer lunch break etc then I’ll hop back online to catch up on some work.

I want to spend as much time as possible with my daughter, but I also want to make sure I’m doing my job well.

All in all, I didn’t think that my identity at work would change so much just because I became a mother. I thought I would be the same old me. Just also a mother.

But I was wrong.

I see myself as a mother who happens to be a software tester/QA engineer – not a software tester/QA engineer who is also a mother.

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