Transitioning Back To Work: Podcast Episode #154
Sasha Morozov of Sasha x Home shares top tips for transitioning back to work after having a baby. You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes, SoundCloud, or wherever you find your podcasts.
Welcome. You’re listening to Ask the Doulas, a podcast where we talk to experts from all over the country about topics related to pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and early parenting. Let’s chat!
Kristin: Welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas. I’m Kristin, and I’m joined today by Sasha Morozov. Sasha is a former executive who holds a masters in social work and is the founder of Sasha x Home. And when Sasha isn’t chasing after her two sons, she now utilizes her clinical skills to coach women who are killing it at work but feel like they’re failing at home to have more time, less clutter, and systems for a peaceful life. Sasha believes that working moms are exceptional humans who are skilled, devoted, and unstoppable. She’s spent almost 15 years working in the nonprofit field to help individuals and families create better futures. Sasha is an avid minimalist, so we’ll get into that in this episode. She’s also a productivity master and obsessed with organizing and designing people’s lives. Welcome, Sasha!
Sasha: Thanks so much for having me! I’m so excited for us to connect and talk about going back to work!
Kristin: Yes, such an important topic for our doula clients, our students in our Becoming course, and women everywhere. I would love to hear your top tips on how women can prepare to excel at their careers after just going through the major life change of having a baby or adding another baby to their family.
Sasha: Absolutely. Let me tell you, one of the biggest things I want us all to really take in is the fact of going back to work as a mother is a new identity. I think what happens a lot of times is that we’re so wrapped up in being a new mom or adding another child to our family, it becomes an afterthought almost of going back, and I’m here to say wait a minute. This is huge. Because think about it, the day you left for maternity leave, you probably had some ideas what it would look like, but now that you’re here, you may be feeling a lot of separation anxiety. You may be just completely overwhelmed. There’s so much going on. So my top tips is really to be proactive versus reactive because, again, when we’re thinking ahead of time, it becomes so much easier. In being proactive, one thing, one easy thing you can do is to make sure that if you’re going back, that the childcare transition and going back is not at the same time. I think that’s a common mistake people make, which is that people say, okay, going back to work, you know, June 1st. That means then baby is going to start daycare or have a nanny or whatever it looks like June 1st because they want that time. And I’m here to say wait a minute. That’s a lot of transitions all at once, ladies. Come on! It’s a lot.
Kristin: For you and baby. It’s a big deal, yes.
Sasha: Yes, absolutely. So when you have so much to think about for yourself – you’re nervous; you’re running around; you’re not in the right head space. Your baby is going to sense that as well. Versus if you’re starting childcare ahead of time, then you’re able to ease into that transition. Maybe they go to daycare for half a day versus the full day. Maybe you start to check in on them if it’s daycare or have the nanny there for a few hours. You’re able to give yourself the breathing space. Again, it’s all about the proactiveness. So that’s a really big tip I try to always encourage people.
Kristin: Super helpful. Even the route to the daycare during your work hours, if you do a trial run with baby to see how long that’s going to take so you don’t show up late when you return to work.
Sasha: Absolutely. A test run is a must. Those clothes on, that makeup on. See how long all of that takes. And again, we think about it in the context of how we were before. So maybe we think, oh, it took me ten minutes to brush my hair and get my makeup done before. And what I say now is that’s great. It may still take you ten minutes. However, who’s watching the baby during this time? If you have somebody crawling next to you while you’re trying to get things done, it’s going to take more time. So proactively thinking, what does it look like? How can I be best prepared? It’s really what I try to encourage everyone who’s thinking about going back to do.
Kristin: Love it! What’s your next tip, Sasha?
Sasha: My next tip is what I call my secret formula, which is my 90-day rule. My 90-day rule is that we give you the opportunity to transition for 90 days versus the belief that you’re just going to go in, day one, catch up on every single email, and be a super star at home and at the job. That’s not realistic, and I don’t want that to be realistic, either, for people. My 90-day rule is give yourself 90 days to transition. The first 30 days is going to take time to catch up on everything at work and get in the groove of things. The next 30 days is really going to be the time where you’re in it. You’re really in it, and then you’re seeing how it’s going. And the last 30 days is when you’re taking the time to make the adjustments that are needed. So when you’re looking at it as a much longer process, then you’re able to give yourself a break, as well, that you don’t think, okay, I’m going to go back, and in a week, it’s going to be totally fine. Give yourself 90 days because I want you to be successful. Because guess what? On day one, you might be thinking, why am I going back? Oh, my gosh, I miss baby. It’s awful. But when you give yourself 90 days, you kind of give yourself that space and say, okay, let me see how I’m feeling by 90 days. Let me see if this sadness is still a level ten as it is on day one, versus just thinking that we’re supposed to just, like, click and just be able to go back to work like nothing has changed, when everything has changed.
Kristin: Absolutely. Love your tips, and yeah, that mom guilt will eventually fade for most people. Great advice. What else do you have as far as that balance and really being able to achieve at a high level?
Sasha: Yes. Just thinking about the mom guilt: I mean, look, we all have it. My boys are not even babies anymore, and sometimes I still feel guilty about having them still be in, like, afterschool versus just picking them up after school. So again, that guilt, that’s going to be there. However, I want you to think about, as well, when you’re preparing to go back, that this is the decision right now. I think we get so caught up in the, well, I’ve worked hard for this position, or I got my master’s, so I need to work, and this is all it’s ever going to be. And I say, look, this is the best decision for you and your family right now. You don’t know what it’s going to look like in a year or two years. So that way, you don’t have to feel as guilty because guess what? Then you can set yourself up if there needs to be a career transition or a stay at home transition, whatever it is. And the exact same thing on the other side. For the women that are choosing to stay home, that is a huge job in itself. We know that. And I also have women that come to me and say, I’ve been a stay at home mom. Now my kids are going to school. I think I want to do something, and that’s where I come in and say, great. You’ve had your chapter, and this is what you wanted at that time, and now you’re ready for a different chapter. And all of that is beautiful. That’s what life is supposed to be, that we go through ebbs and flows and things change. Maybe you thought you’d be at your career for 30 years your whole professional life, and that has been the way it was, you know, years ago. But that’s not the current climate. We hear people all the time switching jobs. It’s not about climbing the one ladder. It’s like a jungle gym. Sometimes you go a little bit here. Sometimes you climb a little bit to the left, to the right. It’s not just the straight arrow. So I want us to really start thinking about all the different options and know that just because we’re making a decision today does not mean that that is the final decision ever for ever, ever, ever, and that’s it.
Kristin: Right. And so Sasha, this is a unique time with a pandemic and a lot of employees are still working either hybrid or remote. So to handle that transition, do you have any tips, and what are you seeing right now with your coaching?
Sasha: Absolutely. So I can say that, you know, in the beginning when everything just shut down, we had no choices. Right? Our kids were at home. If you were pregnant, you gave birth, you came home, and you were by yourself. And at that time, everyone just had to figure it out, and that’s fine. What I want to encourage people is that now that we’re at a little bit of a different time, even if you’re working from home, I highly encourage that you still have childcare while you’re working. Because what I’ve seen a lot of times is women saying, oh, well, I was able to kind of just do it before, so I’m just going to kind of just do it now. And that’s where I come in and say, guys, it’s not worth your mental strain. It’s not. It’s not worth your mental health. Maybe you have a super flexible job; however, you still have a responsibility as an employee to complete the work. So what I say is, you can do it without childcare at home, and at some point, we needed to. We really just – we had no options, right? Everything was closed unless you were in a privileged position where you still could have, like, a live-in or something like that. However, most people were just like, okay, well, this is it. But now we do have those options, and because we have those options, I think it’s amazing that so many women are thinking about jobs from home or remote work or part-time work because they want to be a little bit more involved. I mean, how many of us want to sit in a car anymore and drive an hour in traffic when we’ve seen we can do the same job on a computer?
Hey, Alyssa here. I’m just popping in to tell you about our course called Becoming. Becoming A Mother is your guide to a confident pregnancy and birth all in a convenient six-week online program, from birth plans to sleep training and everything in between. You’ll gain the confidence and skills you need for a smooth transition to motherhood. You’ll get live coaching calls with Kristin and myself, a bunch of expert videos, including chiropractic care, pelvic floor physical therapy, mental health experts, breastfeeding, and much more. You’ll also get a private Facebook community with other mothers going through this at the same time as you to offer support and encouragement when you need it most. And then of course you’ll also have direct email access to me and Kristin, in addition to the live coaching calls. If you’d like to learn more about the course, you can email us at email@example.com, or check it out at www.thebecomingcourse.com. We’d love to see you there.
Kristin: Right. It’s not as productive, but at the same time, if you’re working from home, there’s always dishes to be done, or you might grab an extra snack, so there are distractions. So again, you know, getting even working remotely, like you said, having childcare, having some systems in place, some support, whatever it might be, because otherwise, there are distractions.
Sasha: Absolutely. And there are just different distractions at the office, too. Maybe you’re just chatting with your colleague, instead. So I think it’s really about the routine, the schedule, and also the space. I mean, think about it. If you’re working from home, you’re in the same space. Again, everybody’s different. Some people are able to just close the door, and let’s say they have their child at home and somebody is watching them, a family member, a partner, a nanny, whoever. And that child is screaming, and somebody could just be like, okay. Just getting my work done. And somebody has to be, like, losing their mind, right? And the pull of that. So what I try to say is, well, with that, a tip, is time block. Okay? So the idea of doing time blocks is that if you know – like, for me, if I’m writing, I need it to be quiet. That’s it. Like, I need a peaceful place, and guess what? If I had younger children that were at home or too many distractions, then I would go somewhere else. So I would know that, you know what? Every Tuesday and Thursday, 8:00 to 10:00, I’m going to be at this coffee shop or be wherever, at the park even, depending on the weather, and just write. Because I know if I’m home, I’m not going to be as productive, and I don’t want that, because I want to be able to sign off at the end of the day and not have to come back because I didn’t get things done. So time blocking, understanding where your energy is during the day. Some people are morning people, so they’re ready to go, and that’s the time that’s best for them to be most productive and get things done. Other people are not. Either way is fine. Understanding how you work, when the best time is for you, when you’re working and energy level is there, and making sure to set up your environment for success.
Kristin: Exactly, and like you said, when you have defined work times, then you’re not getting into an overlap with your personal time when you should be spending time with your family. And so you’re not trying to meet a deadline at 7:00 at night when you could be putting your kids to bed.
Sasha: Absolutely. But then again, we live in reality, and what happens in reality is that things come up that we didn’t expect, or our supervisors need extra stuff last minute on a weekend or needs something, and that’s okay, too. I think that’s where a lot of people come in and say, no, but you need to make sure you have these boundaries. Of course you do. However, if your job needs you, it needs you. And I’m here to tell all those women, that’s going to happen, and it’s okay, because there are going to be times where your family needs you, and they need you, and that’s it, as well. So give yourself a break because it’s not going to be a perfect science. It’s not ever going to work to have a rigid schedule. But what is going to work is knowing that where you’re focusing your energy is where it needs to be. So if you’re just on Facebook all day, then that’s not where your energy needs to be. If you’re truly working during the day and getting work done, but you have an extra hour that you need to devote more to work because there’s a deadline or whatever it may be, that’s okay. Why is it not okay? You know, our society is making us feel like it’s not okay because they want us to have this perfect, like, balance of one juggle ball is up, then the next ball, and it’s all just equal. I’m saying that’s not how it works. It’s never going to be equal. It’s just not.
Kristin: Right. So I have a question for you, Sasha. With your focus on minimalism, how can moms, especially a first time, when she has all these baby showers and she has all of the things, like strollers and high chairs and some things she won’t even use until a baby is one, maybe two – how can you minimize all of the clutter and distractions and have that space to breathe? Because I know for me, if I have too much stuff and clutter around, it causes anxiety.
Sasha: Absolutely. Clutter is absolutely shown to cause stress, anxiety, and just an overall sense of heaviness. That’s just how I feel when I see clutter. It’s just a lot visually, as well as the actual stuff. I always say less is more. When you have less toys, it’s less things to clean up. Absolutely, as a first-time mom, you don’t know, and even as a second-time mom, there were things that I was like, oh, I’m totally going to use this, or I know my lesson from last time, and then I didn’t, okay?
Kristin: That’s why we always tell our clients to register for services like a housekeeper or a postpartum doula. Anything that can actually make a difference in your life versus clothes they’ll outgrow or plastic, you know, things that sit around and you trip over.
Sasha: Yes, absolutely. Anything you can register for that will help your mental health and ease some of the outside things that are going on are beyond their worth. And I know it’s cute to dress up a baby. I love babies; they’re so cute. And again, no matter how many times I can tell somebody you don’t need that much stuff, they’re going to have that much stuff, and that’s okay, too, because that’s where they’re at. They’re excited. Maybe somebody has been trying for a long time to conceive, and they’ve just been thinking about this and seeing those clothes in the stores and all of that. And what I say, that’s fine if that’s where you’re at. That’s why I do one on one coaching, to make sure that it’s really customizable to the person. If that’s the type of person you are, what I would say is that’s amazing you have these beautiful clothes. I want you to think about, who are you going to either gift this to, not as, like, pretend here’s a new gift, but like who else in your circle may be having the child next, so that way you’re prepared to do something about it versus letting those clothes just sit around, oh, they’ve outgrown it; here’s a pile of stuff. Thinking ahead of time, and maybe there’s a charity that you want to look up. There’s beautiful things you can do in order to donate or to give, whatever. And that way even if it’s your first and you’re thinking, well, what about if I have a second? You have a circle of, like, three other moms, and you all agree that, hey, next time one of us gets pregnant, we’re going to save this and give it back. You already kind of have this theme so that way you can let go. Somebody else is using it in the meantime, and it’s not just sitting in the attic, and you know that it’s going to come back around to you, as well.
Kristin: Absolutely, I love that. So yeah, blessing other friends with your clothing or items that won’t get used. So lovely. And then you can make room for more as you’re getting more clothes and have birthdays coming up. I always have my kids give away toys and things before Christmas or their birthday to minimize the amount of things that we have.
Sasha: Yes, especially when children are older, we do in our house one for one. So if my child gets a toy, then what’s the one toy that they’re willing to give up or donate, whatever condition that is in. So that’s kind of like a rule in our house, one for one. And at the same time, what do you want your life to look like? Do you want your life to look like that it’s filled with toys and stuff, or do you want your life to look like that it’s filled with experiences and memories? So that again – for everybody, it’s different. That’s fine. Maybe somebody grew up not being able to afford – like, my husband and I were both first generation immigrants, right? So we both came as we were kids, and we both came – you know, our families started from scratch; put it that way. So we didn’t have the cool stuff. We didn’t have – and I remember, when our child turned – our oldest turned, like, three or something. My husband saw this, like, yellow Hummer, like one of those kid Hummers that they, like, sit in and drive around. He was, like, we’re buying it. I was like, what are you talking about? This makes no sense. He’s like, I remember – he was like, even though he came when he was older, he’s like, I remember seeing those and thinking like, oh, my God, like, that is so cool. There’s no way my family could ever have that. It was a big deal for him, okay? I was like, all right, whatever, fine, you know? So I get it that there’s different situations. And even with those situations, you need to figure out when you’re comfortable to let go. When you’re comfortable with, okay, this is taking over our own space and our own health and our own sanity. More than anything, you’ve got enough going on as a new mom or being pregnant. Now you have a room full of stuff for the baby? That’s a lot to take in as it is. So take a look at it, and maybe even just think about it. Okay, this is for sure something that’s going to stay, and then make even just a maybe pile. So go through that yes pile first. Maybe you never get to the maybe pile. But that way it’s just at least more clear for you as well, because you don’t need to keep every single pair of, like, the cute little baby shoes that you get because they’re not even walking. So by the time they are walking, they’re going to be grown out of those shoes, but you’re going to get, like, five or ten pairs because everyone thinks that’s, like, the cutest thing. And it is, but still.
Kristin: So Sasha, in your four-step method, you focus on self. So we’ve talked about some of that. Home, relationships, and systems to help moms get started on a life they want to put on pause. So you have talked about, again, a lot of the things, but I would really love to have some tips for the change in relationships and what you help your clients navigate after having a baby and how their relationship, whether it’s with a friend who’s child-free, their partner, colleagues, how things change after baby.
Sasha: Yes, absolutely. Relationships are so important. You know, there was a recent study found that out of, like, 2,000 parents, 68% of parents felt that they really had lost their social ties or didn’t feel connected to their social relationships. So I want us to be aware of that because I don’t want us to isolate. I feel like today, the motto is, you have your nuclear family. You have your, like, little family, whether it’s you and your partner and a child or just you and a child or whatever it looks like, and that’s it. Where to me – I mean, I love the saying it takes a village. It takes a village to raise a child. And I feel like we have this notion of, like, we have to do it ourselves. Like, no, no, no, I’m going to be the one that – and I’m saying, take a breath, okay? Take a breath. Let people in. That doesn’t mean you take their advice, but just let people in. Let go of things because no one is going to do it your way, and no one’s going to be you. No one’s trying to replace you, either. So when we’re thinking about relationships, how can we create more space for people to come in so we’re not as alone so we’re able to build a community, even building a community of other new moms who are going through the same thing? I always encourage people to join, like, the mommy and me groups. There’s mom meetups. There’s so many ways to create that community. But if we’re talking about relationships at home, one of the things I want us to keep in mind, when you are thinking or transitioning to going back to work, it’s the fact that, look, what happens is – what I see happening is that the woman is on maternity leave. The partner is back at work before the woman, usually, before the mom. And what happens is the mom ends up actually taking on more stuff at home. She’s the one that’s like, oh, well, I’ll run this errand. I’ll do this thing because I’m at home more. I’ll just need to get out with the baby and all that. And that’s all great. Guess what? Now your partner is used to you actually doing all of these things, right? So unless you’re proactive in having that conversation about, hey, when I transition back to work, in that 90-day transition that you’re talking about, I know that it’s something that you’re probably used to me doing. However, we need to talk about a better balance, a better way for us to get everything done because I’m no longer able to complete all of that. Because what happens is then we’re reactive, and our partner says something and it triggers us. We’re like, why can’t you do it? And they’re like, okay, it’s not that they don’t want to, it’s just we’ve been the one that just naturally has ended up taking it on. We haven’t had a conversation about letting go of it or changing the way something is done, so their expectation of us hasn’t changed. It’s just that we’re still going to do it. But ours has because in our mind, well, like, now I have so much to think about more because I’m going to be at work.
Kristin: Right. And our partners – I mean, they want to fix things, but if they – you know, given the opportunity to get a new plan in place, they think everything’s great. So they have no idea that it’s causing extra stress to continue the different errands and tasks that you had on your plate prior to going back to work. So it’s a great tip.
Sasha: Yes, absolutely. And the same thing using the 90-day rule: ask for help. Let your community in. Maybe you don’t have the best relationship with your sister or mother or in-law or cousin or whoever. Is there any way you can let them in during that 90-day transition period, so that way it’s a little bit easier for you as all of this is changing? Maybe they come over once a week and you’re able to get, whether it’s chores done or a massage or whatever it is, but just having that extra support for that 90 days.
Kristin: Love it. So any final tips for our listeners, Sasha?
Sasha: I would just say think about life not as black and white but really living in the gray and that the pendulum is going to swing one way into having you be all thinking about work and then another way, which is thinking all about the home. And I truly believe we are amazing humans who do so much, so we should not be putting more on ourselves or feeling guilty about the things when we are doing the best we can with the choices and decisions we have in front of us.
Kristin: Beautiful. So how can our listeners connect with you? I know you’re on social media. You’ve got a Facebook group, as well as your coaching program?
Sasha: Absolutely. So if you are a mom getting ready to go back to work or are thinking about going back to work, I actually have a course called Going Back To Work where we dive into what we talked about today but a deeper level. And you can get that on my website. You can also schedule a one on one with me. Join the Facebook community for more lives and tips. I would love for you to be in touch.
Kristin: And what is the name of the Facebook group?
Sasha: Yes, Moms Taking Their Lives To The Next Level At Home, because I know that we’ve done so much at the office, and when we come home, I want us to still be living our best lives instead of feeling like a second shift of work.
Kristin: Yes. Beautiful, Sasha! Well, thank you so much for your time and wisdom. It has been a pleasure to get to know you, Sasha.
Sasha: Absolutely. Thank you! Thank you so much. I love what you’re doing with this podcast, as well.
Kristin: Thank you! Take care.
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