This is an article in our Pregnancy Week by Week series, a resource to help you manage your job and life, through and after your pregnancy.

Week 62: Big Changes That Can Make A Big Difference In Your Work-Life Balance

Let’s start with what this isn’t: a list of small things that can make your life a little easier.

Don’t get us wrong. Little things can matter a lot — like laying out your work outfits at night, not checking your email after 9 p.m., and scheduling your last (and least important) call of the day during your commute home…

But sometimes you may get to a point where you feel consistently, incessantly overwhelmed. And in those situations, sometimes no amount of small, incremental movement can shift things in the step-function way you need.

So, what do you do? Where do you start? Below, we've rounded up five near-universal causes of stress. Take an honest look at your life and ask yourself which of these might be at the root of your worries.

1. Money

Is it money? Do you need to make more of it? (Um, yes, we do realize the answer is always ‘yes, please.) But in all seriousness, it’s very normal for you to be thinking differently about money when you have a child.

Personal finance expert Jean Chatzsky learned that people usually start making changes in their finances during “some sort of life event.” She has said, “People finally take the reins or ask for financial help when a door is smacking them in the face. It’s a divorce, it’s a baby, it’s a marriage, it’s an inheritance, it’s a job loss.”

2. Commute

If your commute is causing you stress, can you move closer to your job?

Psychotherapist Amy Morin believes that sometimes taking a job with a longer commute because it pays more can create mental risks and have physical health costs.

If changing jobs is completely out of the question, make sure you exhaust the other options at your current employer. Ask for occasional remote working (e.g. on Fridays) or flexible work hours (where you can come in earlier or leave later) so you can avoid the worst congestion in traffic.

Can you move somewhere closer to work and save money and commute time in the process? It’s not necessarily as far-fetched as you think. In fact, some women we meet have told us that they have completely changed their minds about where it’s ideal to live as a result. Money, commute and job are all inter-connected so consider this an opportunity to think bigger picture when you’re doing a deep-dive into structural ways to improve your work-life balance.

Or, is there any possibility of working from home a couple days a week? Often, it can actually make workers more productive if they shave off the commute time. Use the productivity argument to make a well-constructed case to your boss and see if he/she will entertain it.

3. Sleep deprivation

If you’re not sleeping, everything can feel awful. There’s a difference, however, between temporary stress due to a new baby not sleeping through the night and a longer-term issue. It can be hard to see the light ahead if you’re really sleep-deprived but identifying sleep deprivation as a source of your stress can put it in perspective. There may not be a lot you can do but hit the sack early instead of doing anything else when you get home. Luckily, it’s not usually an issue you’re stuck with forever...even if it can feel like it sometimes.

For those who are facing extraordinary circumstances and need expert help, consider consulting your pediatrician or specialists on childhood sleep. Pediatric sleep expert Whitney Roban puts it well when she says, “One of the most common and difficult parenting issues revolves around childhood sleep. We all know that when children do not sleep, neither do their parents.”

When our co-founder Romy went back to work, her son was still having major sleep issues. Even at 6 months, he was still waking every two hours - and Romy was pretty much a delusional and stuttering mess. Thank God for her amazing friendly and supportive coworkers who basically sat her down for an intervention and told her that it was time to sleep train the baby. And it so was. Two weeks later, Romy’s son was sleeping through the night, and Romy was starting to like herself again. Or as much like herself as it’s possible for the mother of a six-and-a-half month old to feel.

Don’t let yourself feel guilty about sleep training! Just like it’s a parent’s to teach your child to go to the bathroom, and eat, sometimes parents have to teach their kids to sleep. Sleep is essential to their health and yours.

If you are like Romy and finding that your child’s sleeping issues are really getting in the way of work, there are 1,000 books and even sleep experts you can call. Romy highly recommends this book: "The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Helping Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy" by Kim West.   

4. Unreasonable job / manager / employer

A bad job or difficult boss and colleagues can stress anyone out. For Katrina Alcorn, it took an anxiety attack and breakdown before she quit her job. Alcorn was “balancing” a lot and she is one of the most eloquent voices on how society pressures women to individually improve their lives when they feel strain -- rather than the other way around.

If your work was difficult before Baby and you’ve gone back to the same situation, it can feel that much worse now that you are tired and have much more on your plate in terms of care-taking. What may have seemed tolerable before may not be any longer, and that’s ok. Give yourself permission to explore changing your job and career if you think your situation at work is unsustainable.

If you’re finding your hours are untenable and you have a reasonable boss, consider letting him or her know. Many more companies are providing flexibility and remote working solutions that top performers can take advantage of.

5. Unhealthy relationships

A bad job or difficult boss and colleagues can stress anyone out. For Katrina Alcorn, it took an anxiety attack and breakdown before she quit her job. Alcorn was “balancing” a lot and she is one of the most eloquent voices on how society pressures women to individually improve their lives when they feel strain -- rather than the other way around.

If your work was difficult before Baby and you’ve gone back to the same situation, it can feel that much worse now that you are tired and have much more on your plate in terms of care-taking. What may have seemed tolerable before may not be any longer, and that’s ok. Give yourself permission to explore changing your job and career if you think your situation at work is unsustainable.

If you’ve reached the point where you’ve tried a lot of things and feel like you’re going to pull your hair out, it may be time to take a deep look at the big decisions in your life. The small things do make a difference on a daily basis, but sometimes there’s no substitute for some real reflection about your choices and lifestyle.

Related Articles

Would you like to receive personalized, pregnancy emails directly to your inbox? Sign up now for our free week-by-week emails.

Discussion board icon

My boss, who's also a working mom, has superhuman expectations of me — how do I deal?

My female boss has three kids and somehow still manages to work crazy hours and she seems to expect the same of me. I'm just back to work after having a baby. Before I had my baby, I worked some of the longest hours of anyone in my department. But now...

User image

Join the Discussion

Find Out

What are women saying about your company?

Click Here

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Share with Friends
  • Share Anonymously

Want To Start Planning Ahead?

Week by week calendar

Look at next week’s article or find a past week you missed.

Read More

Support, tips & advice just for you.

Inspiring articles are on their way!

Just a few details, please:

*Required