Three months ago, I was given an opportunity to return to work early from maternity leave. I was hesitant, yet, excited about the idea of rejoining the workforce and I knew that my brain would thank me for the challenge. However, I was acutely aware that I was about to be the busiest I have ever been, trying to balance work and my family.
Surprisingly, ramping up to my previous level of productivity wasn’t all that challenging. I was invigorated once back in my chair and I felt like a little sponge. I wanted to throw myself into meetings and soak up every ounce of knowledge I had missed out on over the last year. I found myself getting so caught up in the momentum of my workplace that I was working through my coffee breaks, lunch and often, right up until I had to leave. While I was being super productive during the day, I would come home completely wiped with zero energy to spend with my little one. Needless to say, any other home responsibility I had was near impossible to manage too.
After a few weeks of this routine, I realized that it was not sustainable. I needed to re-organize my days so I felt productive, efficient and guilt-free when I did spend some time on myself. Here are a few ways that I have been able to re-charge my batteries day to day.
Make a plan
Planning out my day and even week has become an essential tool to visualising when I will be able to set time aside for myself. This is true for both my home and office life. I’m a list-loving gal, and a good list can help me see not only what needs to be done , but also where and when I will need time to rejuvenate from a busy day.
I have a friend who swears by her calendar. Her motto is, if it’s not in the calendar it doesn’t exist. It’s a great approach, because she can keep herself incredibly organized and accountable to her self-care routine. A plan, whether it is a list or calendar, is the key to creating space and prioritizing time for yourself.
Get up and move
Finding time for exercise after work is downright laughable. By the time I get home from a busy day at the office, spend time with my family, make dinner and put the baby to bed, I am exhausted. Exercise is the last thing I want to do! During work is definitely the most opportune time to get my body moving. When planned, I can usually carve out 30 to 45 minutes a few times a week to take a walk, join a quick exercise class or yoga session over my lunch. I’m lucky that my employer truly supports health and wellness, which means I am free to block off time in my calendar to do this.
The benefits of exercising for me are much more than just trying to feel great in my clothes. Not only do I find that I am more productive during my afternoon of work, but I have the biggest boost of energy at the end of the day, which allows me to be a way better mom when I come home to my peanut.
While I set my exercise intentions for my week when making “the list”, I do try not to be too hard on myself if those plans change. Let’s face it, life as a new mom is hectic and unpredictable, so if I have to move my exercise break to another day, life will go on! I will just plan for it again the next day.
I am fairly certain we are all guilty of this one. I have definitely fed this bad little habit since returning to work. Checking my email, social media feeds and any other app I may utilize throughout the day is a real brain drain. After spending my entire day glued to my computer, the last thing I need to be doing is staring at my phone while trying to unwind before bed. I truly have the best sleeps if I can unplug for an hour or so before I go to bed. I’m pretty sure science is behind me on this one too.
When I do follow my own sage advice, I use that 30 minutes wisely. Whether it is having a bath, reading a book or doing a combination of both, I feel so much more relaxed and ready to take on the next day if I don’t fall asleep thinking about my big presentation that is due.
Over the last couple of months, I have definitely learned that I am not invincible, and when I do neglect my own self-care routine, I feel really crappy. I am certainly a better mom, wife and co-worker when I am rested and recharged. And if having more energy to chase my busy boy around is not the best reason to take care of myself, I don’t know what is!