by Jen Roett, Guest Contributor
With T-minus three weeks until d-day (my due date), my husband, our 140-pound dog, two cars and a pocket full of dreams PCSed 1 million* miles across the country. The good news – I didn’t deliver on the side of the road like many friends and family predicted.
The better news…PCS leave! My hubs and I were fortunate enough to log quality hours together snuggling our new baby before we both headed back to work.
But that meant, the day I went back to work, our daughter started full-time daycare, and my husband went TDY for several weeks. Now, as a modern day military spouse, I’m luckier than most.
- My husband was there for the birth
- He didn’t deploy the second she was born.
For that, Army powers, I am forever grateful.
This combination of circumstances meant that I was adjusting to being a working mom at the same time I was navigating a new home with Murphy’s Law meddling in the background. My new, adult life hit me hard and all at once. It was ugly, it was sleepless and I’m not even close to having it all under control.
As I reflect on the whiplash of the last few months, I’ve realized this is just another transition to work through, something I’m prepared for thanks to the military life! Frankly, the toughest part was working through the process of finding and accepting my new norm.
6 Steps To Accepting Your New Norm As A Working Mother
Step 1. Admit Things Have Changed
This one is tough. The hallmark of a military spouse is being able to reinvent themselves from one stage of life to the next. But that doesn’t mean we don’t mourn the passing of those stages.
For me, I went from being a single, young professional living in the city to a married Army spouse living in Clarksville, Tenn. When my cowboy boots hit the ground on a cold December day in Tennessee, I thought that previous version of myself was gone forever!
But little did I realize that you can still wear cowboy boots in Tennessee, I was days away from landing a new job, and it was there that I’d make some of best friends of my life.
Was the tiny Army town the same as uptown Dallas? Absolutely not! But that small town had a lot of good to offer once I accepted my new surroundings with an open mind.
Step 2. Find Your Sanity
Take care of yourself first. Find time, however short, for things that rejuvenate you.
My last job at our previous duty station came with an hour commute. I found sanity by obsessively listening to podcasts (I’m looking at your NGMS Happy Hour) and not to mention I was fully up to speed on current events.
Two jobs ago, I worked out every day and never left home without a Fitbit.
This duty station, comes with a TON of traffic and our new baby, so any free time is typically spent singing the ABC’s in my Mom ride. How did I adapt? I started running again. I have my groceries delivered. I recognize that the CrossFit version of me from last duty station is on hold and the “I casually run with a stroller when the weather is moderate” version of me has arrived.
Step 3. Outsource What You Don’t Have Time For
I once put my best foot forward at a Change of Command ceremony with (awesome) store bought cookies, when the Commander complimented said cookies and asked if I made them. I kindly responded with a thank you, but I outsource my baking.
We all have more than enough on our plates, so prioritize your commitments and outsource – without guilt or judgement! Maybe you were a lean mean baking machine before you started your new job and now you are lucky to make brownies from a box; no judgement!
Be picky about where you spend your energy.
Step 4. Talk To Your Network
Family, friends, colleagues whoever makes up your circle of trust…talk, open up and you’ll be surprised what you can learn! In my current job, I’ve been blessed with an amazing leader. She’s the type of person that I can call and say “Hey, I just sprayed gasoline on my face at the gas pump…I’m going to need the day off” and she’ll respond by FedExing a box of ice cream (true story).
Even more so, military spouse friendships are special. When you are 5.5 months into a 9-month deployment, these are the people who know, not from books or TV shows, but through muscle memory what you are going through. These are the friends that can prop you up and remind you when (all) the things happen on a deployment/TDY/week at the field. This too shall pass and you’ll be ready to rock when it does!
Step 5. Get Into A Routine
According to my high school cheering coach, it takes three weeks to get into a routine. Once you have a routine, your behavior is more predictable!
Once I get into a groove, it’s easy to know how and when I’ll get everything accomplished! If you don’t believe my cheering coach (and you should), watch this speech from Naval Adm. William H. McRaven where he describes how the habit of making your bed each day can change the world.
Step 6. Enjoy It…Things Will Change Again Soon!
The only thing that is constant in this crazy life is change! Be proud of what you’ve accomplished and brace yourself because the next transition is right around the corner!
Jen is a HR Business Partner at General Electric Aviation, Mother, Army spouse, and self-proclaimed Gypsy. She enjoys traveling, exploring and pretending to be the next Iron Chef. Wherever she lays her hat is her home… but she’s actually from West Virginia. Let’s GOO Mountaineers!