When our son was born, I made the decision to take a two years break to care for him and focus on my new role. Taking such a long hiatus might seem like an irrational decision, especially if you live in a country with a short maternity leave (we get 2-year parental leave in Romania). I feel I learned a lot from this experience and I wanted to share it with all moms out there faced with the difficult choice between career and family.

My schedule for going back to the office was strongly influenced by our baby’s integration to kindergarten, which didn’t happen very fast. But our decision was to respect his rhythm, so I came back to a full-time program slower, but more at peace. For me, having both a career and time to spend with my family is vital, as I think that when I’ll look back at my life, it’s the strong relationship I’ve built that will make me happy.

There might be one or two things I would do differently, but all in all, I feel I reached a good balance.

When I found out I was pregnant, I was at a point in life where I felt like I needed a career change, or even more, I needed a leap year to define what I wanted to do next. My role at the time turned out to be challenging and exhausting, and I no longer felt I belonged there.

My long-time dream has been starting my own gig and working with tech companies on getting tangible results from their marketing. But I also wanted to take time off and really think things through. So I made the call to take the full maternity leave and spend time with our child and plan my next steps.

Soon after our baby boy was born, it became more and more clear that I wasn’t going to go back to my previous job.

As I was considering my options and trying to figure out the next steps, I felt that learning SEO was a good place to kick start my marketing projects. So I began learning SEO — Moz and SemRush have some really good courses I recommend – and I also started taking some small projects at STOICA, a digital growth agency my husband founded. I felt attracted to SEO because you have to master different areas to get results: research the right keywords, build inbound links, content, website performance. As I continued to explore and work on small projects I came to realize that I enjoy writing content and figuring out how that content helps in the buying process.

After Victor fully adapted to kindergarten life, in the autumn of 2019, I joined the agency full time. Around the same time, my husband Andrei came with the idea of partnering with HubSpot and we started building packages that included an inbound approach to marketing, a process I believed in and could focus on.

I knew how important it is for companies to align their marketing and sales process, to build content, and to develop agile conversion funnels — although I didn’t necessarily called them like this back then — so I was happy to start working on these projects.

Although coming back to work happened gradually, I still remember how hard it felt at times. What no one told me about returning to work is that it can be really challenging to be in the office for 8 hours or even to focus on one single task at a time. Being a mom quickly teaches you to master multitasking, so having to concentrate on only one thing seemed odd at first. Not to mention that you come back changed — your body and your mind change, and this can easily make you insecure.

Personally, I was lucky to return to an environment with young people, without preconceptions, to have the support of my husband, and to adjust at my own pace.

Although it was an owned decision, to stay at home and take a sabbatical, looking back, there is one thing that I would do differently and that is staying in touch with people from my former network. I suddenly stopped interacting, I no longer stayed in touch with people I worked with and picking things up after two years felt inadequate.

Also, switching roles and industries -from sales to marketing and from an ad tech company to a digital agency- made me feel insecure about my own skills. So if I could give any future mom a piece of advice, that would be to not completely isolate yourself and to make a bit of time to reach out and keep in touch.

Recently, I started being more open about my schedule (that includes starting my day at 7:30 AM and leaving the office around 3:30 PM) and talking to my clients about this. It was a surprise for me to see how understanding they are with my new needs, even if some of them don’t have children of their own. I think it was extremely important for me to make the decision that I wouldn’t follow success at the cost of family time, and this gave me more structure, but also helped me communicate my needs and expectations better.

All of these couldn’t have been possible without Andrei, my husband, his support, and his ability to know when I need help even though I don’t always manage to ask for it.

This is a huge myth I would like us as a society to overcome: a stay-at-home mom with a working husband can easily become a recipe for depression. We all need to stay connected — to our family and to our passions, to learn, to be treated with kindness, and to make time for ourselves.

Originally published on Medium.com

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash