Returning to work after having Parker has literally been the hardest thing I've ever done. I feel more sorrow leaving Parker when I go off to work then I did when I had my miscarriage. (Which is probably the second saddest I've ever been.)
So when people ask how or why I do it... the why is obvious. Necessity. But the how isn't as obvious. I manage to do it because I work at a GREAT place.
I have a boss who on my first day back said, "Try to make it in sometime today, anytime today. Just find an hour or so when Parker is asleep and come in." When we returned from vacation and Parker was still out of sorts for Monday morning, I called my boss explainging the situation and she said, "Okay, take today and I don't want to see you tomorrow either." Anytime she asks me to do something, whether in my normal job description or not, she'll say, "But of course your son comes first." Or if she gives me a deadline, "But if your son needs something..." And when I've had something rough or emotional happen she'll instruct me, "Go home and see your family."
Where I work takes "family friendly" to the extreme. Taking vacations is highly encouraged and we get an overabundance of paid time off. Not to mention all the federal holidays plus the week between Christmas and New Years. We make our own schedules because we do the coordinating with the families we visit. I haven't worked a 40 hour week since I got back. Not even a 30 hour week. Working from home is highly encouraged.
My Mondays typically go something like this. Leave the house after I put Parker down for his first nap. Go to a training that I attend every other Monday on how children learn to talk. Come home, nurse Parker, then take him with me to the Staff Meeting so that Mark won't be late to school. (Parker can come to almost all meetings with me, but of course not in the homes of the families I visit.) Tuesdays Parker goes to my sister's and I usually have quite a few visits scheduled. Wednesdays Parker's back at home with Mark, and in between scheduled visits I try to come home and feed Parker so I can pump as little as possible. Thursdays Parker is back with my sister, April. Where he always enjoys watching her little girl, Autumn who is a year older than he is. I take Fridays off, and Saturdays I visit my families that work during the week and usually get them all done within the time of Parker's first nap.
Since I'm a social worker that serves to strengthen families my own family gets strengthened in the process. Not only do I have visual and physical experience with the families I serve, but we get to attend cool trainings on things like how kids learn to talk. Some other trainings I've been to since I've gotten back are on early warning signs of autism, how maternal depression effects child development, risk factors for cutting and self injury, gang related behaviors, helping kids learn to sleep through the night, dealing with challenging behaviours with kids who have special needs, coregulation vs. time out as discipline. I could go on and on about all the FASCINATING things I learn and get to put into practice in my own home and in the homes of families in this community.
So that's the HOW behind how I manage to work and be a Mom. For me, it couldn't be done any other way. Even with all these bonuses its still too hard and my heart yearns to be home.
I just wanted to add a note about why my work is this way. Its because the work we do is very intense, emotional, and draining. The agency practices with the belief that if things are not right with your own family, then you certainly can't help another family. They try to provide as much respite for our mental health as possible. This agency is a rare find in the social service field, especially non-profits. Most places are just trying to earn enough money to stay afloat that they cannot offer their employees such benefits.