family feet to the canoe fishing on dock

First day back to work after vacation is brutal. I do my part to weigh costs and benefits with my personal work-life-balance all the time, I chew on my decisions daily. The focus on balance may be a true occupational hazard of being a mommy blogger. When one part of your career centers on writing  parenting and pediatric content while thinking about balance for parents who work outside their home, the task of finding balance and meaning– true contentment of your own– can be arduous. Especially during the first few days back to work after a family vacation. Turns out perseverating on what others think about balance can be unproductive in moments of transition.

I’ve been away and a bit offline this past week or so. I’ve been lucky to be more present with my family. I haven’t been reading as much pediatric content. I was surprised to learn about the measles case here in Seattlethe multi-state listeria outbreak, and catch up on some new conversations about air travel safety. On vacation I traveled with my family to the Midwest to see one set of grandparents where I also pulled off a surprise 40th birthday party for my husband, I finished the book Lean In, I jumped repeatedly into a lake, I read a poorly written “beach novel,” and I started Infinite Jest (will be miraculous if I can finish it). I played and played with the boys. I did my part to check-in and check-out of the chewy challenge of striking a good balance between work and family in my head…

Re-Entry To Work

It’s the days of re-entry into work from vacation for so many of us that cause our hearts to pause. Cause us to question our choices with working and sort out our decisions yet again. The first few days back to work can feel deleterious to the hard work and progress with contentment we’d achieved previously. It’s hard to leave our children any day but harder I think that first day back. Yesterday when I heard there was a NYT article about a mom leaving a corner office for work at home, I waited a good 5 hours before reading it. I knew I would have to brace myself.

Thing is, on that first day or two back to work, we working parents can still remember precisely what it feels like to have the weight of our child on our lap for hours at a time. We can see evidence of time out of work — a piece of sand in the bottom of our wallet or a receipt from the public pool that falls out when we pay for gasoline. We pick up the phone and two swipes away is an Instagram feed of photos in the late afternoon sun. There are vivid glimpses of full days with our children, one after another…

Re-entry is dangerous for any of us after vacation as so many things can cause us to burn up as we enter the work atmosphere. But they are of particular hazard when you’re a mommy blogger and you start to read about balance the minute you return.

My advice (I’m talking to myself out loud here) is to focus on your mission, complete a task or two that is essential, and slip gradually back into being the productive person you like. Find a big win at work as best you can the first few days and take an extra long time with your children just before bed. Pull on a bootstrap and realize the great privilege it is to contribute. Rinse and repeat…