”Sorry for the weird background noise, I’ve got Rasmus here with me in a carrier.”
Anyone who’s worked with me during the past 7 months has probably got used to my almost-a-year-old baby joining me in calls and meetings. Contrary to what you might think, this isn’t because of the pandemic situation – when my baby was four months old, I decided to try combining part-time work (60% of my regular hours) with my parental leave and staying home with the baby.
Since Mothers Day is approaching, I feel brave enough to share my own experiences of combining work and life with a baby. I say ”brave”, as it’s still a sensitive subject for me; a mom returning to work when her baby is only a few months old still seems to be a bit of a taboo.
Carpe diem. The reality of that phrase hit me right in the face after my first child was born in 2018, and all of a sudden, it became the survival guideline of my everyday life. In practice it meant that the continuous attention and all other kids’ needs have made it more challenging to plan anything ahead. Sleep regression, anyone? With my work+baby combo, it has been impossible to 100% certainly predict when I’ll be able to open my laptop and join a meeting. It really has been all about seizing the day and making every working moment count without knowing when that moment will come to an end. Not knowing the precise ending time of my kid’s nap has led me to discover new, more efficient working methods. For example, I’ve understood the importance of a mindfulness-inspired way of working where I truly focus on one thing at a time without bouncing back and forth.
Motherhood has taught me about relativism and the ability to react to working life and different tasks with a more laid-back attitude. As the choice to return to work during my maternity leave was my own, work feels more meaningful. I enjoy working especially since it offers me more sense of achievement and social contacts in my everyday life. With the pandemic canceling all traditional mom-and-baby activities such as coffee meetups and family clubs, contacts with the world outside our home have felt particularly important. Even though combining work with all the hassle of diaper changes, feeding and BLW has from time to time felt overwhelming, I still feel that working gives me the necessary counterbalance to everyday family life. The time I get to myself makes me feel like I can take off my mom role for a moment and be the same Riikka I was before I became a parent. It’s a really energizing feeling for me, and it also gives me a new level of appreciation for the moments I spend with my baby.
After I became a mother, the meaning of work has changed in my life. If earlier I looked at the meaningfulness of work in a wider context and found it important to contribute to a better world, my current situation in life brings out the hedonist in me. It’s enough for me to have a job that I enjoy and that seamlessly fits into my everyday life. Motherhood has often led me to think about the (cliché, perhaps, of the) finiteness of life. How could I build myself and my kids a life that I wouldn’t need to regret afterwards? In other words, I want to spend the time away from my family doing things that genuinely bring a good vibe to my life. For me, one of these things is work. This good vibe also helps me be a better mother to my kids.
The concrete success factors of combining work and family life for me:
- The possibility to work from home has been important in order to maintain my baby’s daily rhythm and routines. We live in the countryside, a 1 h 20 min drive from Vincit’s Helsinki office, so remote working was a big part of our lives already before the pandemic.
- My role has allowed me to work flexibly whenever it has suited me (and my baby).
- Coworkers who have made it easy to organize responsibilities and tasks according to different situations.
- An employer who had no problem with breaking the traditional pattern and finding the right ways to help me work during my maternity leave. I truly appreciate the trust that Vincit has shown in allowing me to take care of my responsibilities independently.
- My partner who has also been working from home and has been able to help when needed.
- My baby who naps well and enjoys hanging out in a carrier. With our colicky firstborn, working would not have been an option.
After the summer holidays my baby will start daycare and I will continue working and part-time stay-at-home parenting. It was again very easy to negotiate a solution on suitable, flexible hours. I’m really looking forward to our kids growing, so that the whole family can enjoy all the great family-oriented benefits that Vincit has to offer!