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Helping high-achieving parents balance work and family

I consider myself a smart, high-achieving woman and I’ve been fairly successful in everything I have endeavored, but honestly, parenting brought me to my knees! How could it possibly be so hard? I had read all the books, I did all of the research, so why did I find parenting one tiny baby so difficult? I wondered how so many parents before me survived as working parents, especially high-achievers like me with no family support. 

How new babies change work life for high achievers

If you’re anything like me, you might feel like you’re failing at everything when you return to work after parental leave. Maybe you feel like you’re not a good enough parent, not a good enough spouse, or friend, and like you’re failing or just not doing your best at work. Especially if you’re a high-achiever, having a new baby can make you feel lost, and insecure about your ability to find a work life balance. Sleep deprivation that comes with a new baby will make you feel like you’re losing your mind so if you’re not sleeping well, give yourself some grace to adjust. And when you’re ready for sleep training, get your baby sleeping well so that you can rest too!

 

Every high achiever wrestles to balance life as a new parent

I believe that all high-achievers struggle with balancing work and family. Doesn’t matter what gender you are, there’s nothing like a baby to make you feel helpless and humbled. Because here’s the thing – all your life you’ve been successful. You’ve followed in the footsteps of other high achievers. You studied hard. You got degrees. You excelled in your career. You succeeded in everything you touched. But when you have a baby, it isn’t so simple. There’s no formula for success, and your baby can’t tell you what they want/need so you end up guessing and hoping that you made the right choice. And then you go back to work and feel worse. It feels like there’s no time for yourself, and though you used to work longer hours, now you want to run out the door at 5pm to spend an hour or so with your baby. And maybe they frown on such things in your workplace, which makes it harder.

 

Best ways to return to work as a new parent

Here are my top suggestions for going back to work. Plan to start childcare a few weeks before you return to work to give yourself time to ease into it. Allow a week or more to get to know your caregiver/s, which will give your baby some time to get used to the new routines. Practice “going to work” for a few days while you take time for yourself. By this, I mean get dressed, pack your bags, dress your baby, and leave the house to run solo errands or treat yourself to a pedicure and a massage. Ease back into work by starting on a Thursday or Friday, so you’re not gone for a whole week during your first week back. If you’re used to working out, try to plan some time for you to continue working out, even if it’s just going for a 20-minute run, or getting up 30 minutes before your baby so you can do a quick workout. 

Plan for your return to work

If possible, start planning your return to work when you’re still expecting. Better to have a conversation with your boss or supervisor about your intention to return to work after parental leave and make a plan with them. Get your return date on the calendar, and discuss your working hours and role when you return (if you want to work hybrid or change your working hours, discuss this in advance!). Ensure you have plenty of time to pass things off to colleagues and communicate with them about the projects they’ll be working on while you’re on leave. Get to know your employee benefits as a new parent. Perhaps your employers offer postpartum doulas, lactation consultants, and/or sleep training as benefits. Take advantage of everything they offer, especially the full parental leave for both of you if you have a partner.

Setting and maintaining boundaries

Setting boundaries about your time and needs is vital for high-achieving working parents. If you have a demanding job and want to continue working out, for example, put your workouts on your calendar first. If you’re planning on pumping at work, block your calendar for pumping sessions so your days don’t get filled with meetings during times when you’ll need to be pumping. Agree on your working hours with your boss or supervisor, and don’t feel guilty about leaving the office at the agreed-upon time! You can always log back on after your baby is asleep to answer some emails but don’t go crazy here. Most emails – especially the ones that come after 5pm – can wait until the morning! The most important boundaries that you’ll need to set are the ones with yourself. If you plan a date night, go out. If therapy is important for you, don’t cancel your appointments because you’re “too busy”. Keep self-care and your relationships on your priority list so that you don’t feel like you’re losing yourself as a parent. Self-care is crucial to maintain any semblance of work life balance. 

 

Sleep train your baby — and you get rest, too!

If your baby isn’t sleeping independently, and you’re up all night trying to get your baby back to sleep, something needs to change. You cannot be a high-achieving, driven person who succeeds at your career on little to no quality sleep. Sleep training your baby to fall asleep independently night and day will be a game-changer for you and your baby. First, you’ll have your evenings and your bedroom back. Second, your baby will feel more rested and happier during the day. If we support you with sleep training, we will also help your baby nap and feed on a predictable schedule during the day, which you can share with your new caregiver/s. I can’t overstate how vital this will be for you as a working parent. Knowing that your baby is sleeping through the night and eating and napping on a schedule during the day will give you a huge sense of relief AND you’ll finally feel rested enough to successfully juggle work and family!

Pro tip: We help families with sleep training as early as 12 weeks. Most virtual sleep training services don’t offer sleep training support until after 4-5 months, but we do. You can read more about when to sleep train your baby here

 

Hire an Infant Sleep Consultant

There are a zillion different services that offer virtual sleep training support, but I honestly don’t recommend any of them. If you have the means, hire a sleep consultant who stays with you in your home. There is NO comparison to the fast results you’ll find with in-home sleep training support like ours. All of the virtual sleep training consultants out there follow a similar method (timed checks with various interventions) and they will tell you how to sleep train your baby, but it won’t be customized for your baby’s age, temperament, or personality, and they’re not there to support you in real time when the “plan” doesn’t go according to plan. Also, the timed check methods that all virtual sleep consultants use will drag out sleep training so that your baby cries harder and longer than if we were to support you and your baby in real time. Our sleep training method is tailored for each baby, designed to make sleep training as fast and easy as possible so that you can get back to being your high-achieving self and get back to work at 100%!

 

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Natalie Nevares

As Mommywise Founder, my mission is to help families grow and thrive, provide sustainable income for women and mothers, raise awareness about postpartum mood disorders, and make treatment more accessible. As a mentor and parent, my mission is to role-model a strong woman, parent, and leader who endeavors to leave a legacy of positive change through service and humility.

Picture of Natalie Nevares

Natalie Nevares

As Mommywise Founder, my mission is to help families grow and thrive, provide sustainable income for women and mothers, raise awareness about postpartum mood disorders, and make treatment more accessible. As a mentor and parent, my mission is to role-model a strong woman, parent, and leader who endeavors to leave a legacy of positive change through service and humility.

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