*Article by WMC Public Health Consulting
When I first went back to work, Noah and I had spent 1 year together. I was fully prepared to feel all the feelings of missing him and feeling FOMO for the milestones that I might miss. What I wasn’t super prepared for was anxiety. I never had anxiety nor was I very familiar with what it looked like and the many faces it can have so when I started experiencing this as a feeling, I hadn’t really been able to identify it. I want to be specific in saying that not everyone will feel these exact symptoms, but there has to be some similarities and the point being, that if you see something in yourself that doesn’t seem like it’s part of your growth process as a working mother, then seek help.
What I experienced:
- General nervousness
- Scatterbrained: never finishing projects, forgetting big things (not mom brain lol)
- Extreme emotional swings: I don’t say mood swings, because I wasn’t manic, but I was more easily triggered. Crying over little things and feeling panic over something manageable.
- Edgy, irritable, short-fused with my family and friends.\
- Deep sadness: I wondered often my purpose, not feeling like I’m being the best mom possible.
I did end up going to a few counseling sessions and I was “diagnosed” with severe anxiety. Now, I say “diagnosed” because I think most of us struggle with anxiety in general, whether it’s chronic or acute or occasional. It’s not a thing to hide. I will straight up tell someone I just met that I struggle with managing my anxiety sometimes and it’s like a wall comes down and they will more often than not say, “Oh my gosh, me too”.
Managing anxiety takes a lot of energy at first and first, you’ve got to admit it right? Admitting that this is something you have lurking in your mind. I will say this, the root of my anxiety stems from 2 things:
Poor time management and “mom guilt”
Time Management: I want to say I suck at this, but saying you suck at something actually gives you an excuse to be bad at it. So I’m going to say that time management is a work in progress for me. And it’s not so much the time blocking aspect, it’s the execution. I have 3 calendars. One of my laptop for work, one on my phone for work and personal, and one that I physically write in for work and personal events.
I know what I’m wearing the next day. My morning makeup routine is literally lined up in order of use. This just helps me throw it on quickly without searching.Finishing tasks. If I start something I set a timer for x amount of time so that I’m focusing on only this task. When I’m with baby, that’s it. I’m with the baby. I’m not doing anything else unless I’ve enlisted his help. Asking him to help me with home chores gives him a sense of belonging and contribution.
Mom Guilt: Ugh this is hard to manage for me. One second I’m excited to get to Monday and work and be productive, but as soon as I get on the phone for a call, my laptop for emails, or leave for a meeting, my thoughts take over. Did I hug him long enough? Did I rush out? Did I give him an extra kiss? Should I have held him when he asked for up while I was getting ready? And this just is a dark rabbit hole of emotion so before I start allowing myself to stress myself out, I stop them. Instead, I remind myself that we cooked together last night. We snugged extra long for bedtime. the weekend was full of good memories we made. I’m home a little earlier today we can go for a walk. You’ve got to be mindful of pinpointing the moments you’re making moments and keeping those at the forefront of your mind. And most of all, what kind of mother would I be if I didn’t allow myself time for me and the job I enjoy?
I want us working moms to unite. We are a team of women who literally do it all although we are not obligated to do it all. We need to support each other and give ourselves a break. Reminding each other that we’re all in this together, we get it because we’re the only ones that do. There’s an untapped community of women who work outside of the home that needs to be addressed and companies need to get on board with empowering their employees that are mothers to prioritize family, reduce anxiety, and address the epidemic and promote anxiety management. Until then, we are the change and this thing is manageable.
How do you manage anxiety in working motherhood? Have you sought help? Would you be interested in helping me start a community to help support each other? Please don’t hesitate to reach out via comments or Instagram and let me know your thoughts!
About the Author:
My business partner Liz and I were discussing our love of public health and wellness (we are both MPH’s) and a problem we both felt was huge in the industry of corporate America of equality and fair treatment for working mothers and integration of wellness. In addition to that, the pains, stresses, needs, and anxiety that a working mother may go through in the transition back to work and after the fact through all stages of childhood. With this in mind, our goal has become to impact as many mothers as possible in the workforce and make the juggle of parenthood, health and a career you love possible for all women.