When you’re pregnant for the first time, you get faced with a whole world of frequently discussed parenting topics quite quickly. Some of them are even subjects of heated discussions that never seem to calm down. One of them is the period of time that parents – or let’s be honest, most of the time the mother – stays at home with the newborn baby. This question goes hand in hand with if, how old and how many days a child is brought to daycare. For me, the decision of how we organize the care for our son, has definitely been a learning process. I found out that what I used to think was my ideal picture wasn’t what I wanted once I put it in practice. I also learned that for this (and another dozen things around motherhood) aspect of being a parent, you need to grow a thick skin and stay confident with whatever you decide is best for yourself and your family. Because there will always be people who completely disagree with your approach, and every now and then, they will tell you so in your face, pushing those guilt-, doubt- and pride-buttons you carry around as a mom.
Before becoming a parent was even in sight, I already had an idea of how I’d handle things with a baby. I’d probably stay at home for a year and then go back to work for three days a week. This was back when I was living and studying in Switzerland, and of course your environment contributes a lot to what you consider a standard or ideal. Once I had fallen for this Dutch man of mine and I was living in Holland, I had a partner for my plan-making. It was not about how I would handle things anymore, but about how we would do it together, making sure we’d both stay happy and have a good family life.
Once we were ready for the step and were expecting Henrik, it became clear that the real life doesn’t always go like you’ve planned beforehand. On one hand, I had a good job and knew by now that I wanted a fulfilling career rather than just a job that got me enough money to live on. On the other hand, I knew I wanted to stay home with the baby for longer than the standard 12 weeks of fully paid leave after he was born. I also knew that after two years at that company, I was ready for a next step. Those factors combined made me decide to quit my job so they knew they had to look for someone else to fill the position, and I could stay home for longer and start looking for a new job once I felt ready. During my maternity leave with Henrik, I went through all kinds of stages regarding what would be best for our family. I considered looking for a part time job for up to three days a week. But quite soon it became clear that positions at the level I was looking for just weren’t available part-time. Four days was an option though, and that now seemed ideal to me. And as much as I enjoyed my time at home with Henrik, I also longed for husband to come home in the evenings, hearing about all the projects and plans he had at work. And I felt the urge to sit there opposite him and tell him about my own ideas and achievments at work, rather than just summing up my day with our baby. And while I once thought that one year at home was ideal, I felt more than ready to get back to work after some months.
I will continue to tell my experiences aroung going back to work and becoming a happy working mom in a post next week, so stay tuned 🙂