You're used to having a lot on your plate, from managing your career and relationships, to your home and hobbies you were always doing something. But since becoming a mom, you find that you can barely keep it together.
You knew motherhood would have its challenges, but you never thought it'd be so overwhelming.
Outside of being a mom, a professional and a wife, you're not really sure who you are anymore.
Hi, I'm Katelyn Denning.
I work with new moms just returning to work who feel that motherhood has consumed their identity. They're stressed, tired and overwhelmed from juggling it all and find that at the end of the day they have nothing left for themselves.
I help them get their priorities straight, make life more simple and find time for themselves so they can start enjoying life again.
I Have Been There.
Before I had my son, I managed what some would consider a very full schedule. I had a growing professional career, friends and family with whom I was always planning events and outings, a new-to-us 1890s home that came with a host of DIY projects, and a list of hobbies and interests that filled all the time in between.
If I wasn't reading, running or knitting, I was setting some new goal for myself constantly in pursuit of my "best self".
Timing is Never Perfect.
When we decided to start a family, I'll admit that I was a little nervous about how my life would change. I didn't have many friends with little ones that I could look to as an example so I had a hard time envisioning what life would be like as a working mom.
But as I had so often heard, timing is never perfect, so we decided there was no time like the present.
I assumed, naively, that I would continue to live life the way I always had, just with a baby in tow. I was convinced that I wouldn’t change the way I lived just because I was becoming a mom.
Fast forward 9 months, and there I was, forever changed. I had a healthy baby boy and was struggling in just about every way possible. I had a tough physical recovery, I had a baby who was pretty unhappy and definitely would not sleep, and I was completely lost.
When my maternity leave was over at 12 weeks postpartum, I was ready to go back to work. I wanted to go back to work because I thought that by getting back to my old routines, I would get back my old self. But instead of finding myself, I felt even more confused - torn between wanting to work and wanting to be with my son.
I'm Fine, Thanks.
Colleagues congratulated me and asked how I was doing. So I smiled back and said things are "crazy" but that I was doing fine, that I was adjusting.
I couldn’t bear to tell them how I was really doing. That the colleague they knew, the one who could juggle a million projects and clients and make it look easy, was so overwhelmed by motherhood and life in general that she was in a constant state of either holding back tears or wanting to scream.
What happened to me? What happened to the woman who loved working, who thrived on having a full plate, who had this internal drive and motivation to learn, to grow and to be challenged? Why was being a working mom SO HARD?
After struggling through 3 months back at work, 3 months of tears, sleep deprivation and next to no motivation or energy, I reached out for help. That simple act of saying out loud that I was not ok, was the biggest turning point in my journey.
I said it first to my husband and my mom, then I reached out to my doula and my midwife, who referred me to a support group, who referred me to my therapist. I worked with her for the next year to overcome the postpartum depression.
Everyone just wanted to help. Everyone just wanted to see me happy again.
During that time, I also started opening up to friends and coworkers about my struggles transitioning into motherhood and I found that I was far from alone.
So many new moms breathed a sigh of relief to hear that someone else could relate to what they had or were going through. We would talk about the guilt, the stress, the overwhelm, the depression, and the loss of self. Looking back on it, I believe we were going through a sort of grieving process. We were grieving the adventures and freedom we used to have and the people we used to be. Like any grieving process, I had to be sad for my loss before I could look ahead for new opportunities.
Every time I had one of these conversations with a fellow mom, I felt more and more certain that this was a topic I was meant to share. But I knew that before I could help others, I needed to continue helping myself.
Doing the Work.
Once I’d been working with my therapist for a year, and we both agreed that the intensity of the postpartum depression was behind me, I moved on to a more proactive approach for my care. I worked through a variety of self-coaching models, read books, did research, talked to moms and processed everything I was learning by experimenting with small changes to my own life to see what would work.
I listened to Jess Lively and experimented with “flow” in my life; I followed Brooke Castillo’s “Self-coaching 101” and adjusted my thought process; I tried Laura Vanderkam’s time management tips and looked for efficiencies; and I grappled with defeat by hearing Brene Brown’s voice through “Rising Strong”.
To say that I enjoy learning, experimenting and tweaking my day-to-day life would be an understatement. I found that in sharing this knowledge, I was not only helping the moms in my life, I was also helping myself.
With the encouragement of several of my fellow mamas, I decided to put together the coaching program that I would have wanted in those early months of motherhood. The months when I was back at work feeling lost, overwhelmed and alone.
I borrowed from my own personal experience as a working mom, from the various coaching methods I had been exposed to, and from the research I conducted to put together an approach and a program that I knew could help other new working moms.
Everyday I get to have conversations that challenge and inspire me as I talk with other working moms and as we figure out how to make working motherhood work for them.
Finding My Working Mom Groove.
Working motherhood continues to be a journey and everyday I recommit to enjoying where I am TODAY. I feel lucky to have a toolbox full of ideas, tricks, and processes that allow me to keep my shit together (for the most part)! I know what I have to prioritize for my well-being and when I’m not feeling so great, you can bet it’s because I’ve let that slip.
My “me-time” doesn’t look the same as it did before I had kids. My son is often jumping in front of the TV as I try to do my exercise videos, the most frequently listened to meditations on my app are the kids’ ones on being nice, and a hot cup of coffee is a luxury that does not go unnoticed. But I have more realistic expectations now and I can make more out of 5 minutes than the average person!
My son and I have an especially close bond and I love that he gets to see me doing things that I love still. I have since gone on to become a mother of three. And while I worried that the overwhelm and the PPD might return again, I felt so much more prepared. I knew what I needed to do to maintain my well-being and my sanity and I made those things a priority.
The biggest thing that I did differently this time around?
I asked for help!
I am in awe of how far I have come on my own journey, and as hard as that first year was for me, without those challenges I would not have learned all that I know today.
And that is my mission with Mother Nurture. To share my lessons, my research, my ideas and to hear about your struggles, your fears and your stress.
Being a working mom is challenging, yes. But it can also be enjoyable. I want to help you find that space - to find you and what working motherhood looks like for you.
One of my favorite quotes, and a sentiment that I remind myself of frequently, is that “you are the only one who can give your kids a happy mom who loves life.”
If you are struggling to make it work as a working mom, let me know.
You don’t have to struggle through it alone.
And if you’re ready to learn more about the work that I do with other stressed-out working moms, click here.
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
Whether I'm sharing my own thoughts and tips or the research of others, you can find an article of interest here.