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So you’re going back to work! Maybe your maternity leave is over, or you stayed home and you’re going back into the workforce. Perhaps you took time away from work for health reasons. Whatever the reason, you’re probably feeling a mixture of emotions.

Maybe you’re feeling really excited about getting back to your 9-5, or perhaps you’re dreading being away from your littles. You could be feeling both ways at the same time!

I vividly remember my first day back at work after 3 months home with my son. I was a teacher at the time, and I was a grab bag of emotions. One side of me was excited about seeing other humans other than my son and husband, but the other side felt so guilty for leaving my son. I eventually did end up leaving my job to become a stay at home mom, but my time as a working mom did teach me some valuable lessons.

So I want to encourage you moms returning to the work force. Here’s 5 tips for you to keep in mind when you go back to that 9-5.

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1- Set reasonable expectations for yourself at work and at home

Like I said earlier, I know you might feel like you’re being 50% mom and 50% employee. But really you’re being 100% mom and 100% employee! That’s 200% of a person!

You need to remember that you are a freak of nature! Only someone liken to Superwoman can be 200% of a person.

So put your cape on a chill out a bit!

Is keeping the kitchen perfectly clean stressing you out? Then don’t! Don’t worry about your house being in perfect order! I promise, the quality of your mothering is NOT measured by your vacuum lines or the sparkle of your sink. It is measured by where your heart is.

Side note: If a clean house is completely necessary for your sanity, The Clean Mama is a wonderful resource on how you can achieve a clean house with little time. I’ve been implementing her tips for a while now, and she’s freaking awesome!

Are you too stressed to make a well balanced meal for your family at the end of a long work day? Then don’t feel shame for opting for pizza instead! You worked HARD for that pizza! Enjoy it!

Another side note: If you find yourself ordering takeout a little too often, and you want to make good meals with minimal work, I suggest checking out another amazing resource, The Family Freezer! I literally own every single one of her cookbooks, and each recipe is amazing!

The only person in life who is putting that maternal pressure on you is YOU! So take some time and figure out what is ACTUALLY important to keep up with.

Are you going to absolutely lose your mind if the kitchen isn’t in perfect shape? Or can you live with the counters being a little cluttered? Can the yard wait for another day? Or are you the kind of person who is one weed away from having a total meltdown.

Don’t be afraid to set the bar a tad bit lower than you think you think you should. You know how hard you work on a daily basis. So realize that there are some things that aren’t the end of the world if they don’t get accomplished.

The quality of your mothering is NOT measured by your vacuum lines or the sparkle of your sink. It is measured by where your heart is.

2- Don’t stress about not having enough time.

I think we all need a reality check:

There are only 24 hours in a day! You need to spend close to 8 of those hours sleeping (please don’t skimp on sleep!) and roughly another 8 of those hours are spent at work. So the time you have left after all of that is not that huge.

There are only 24 hours in a day. You cannot change that. So please quit stressing yourself out about something you have absolutely ZERO control over!

Instead, focus on what you can control! You have full control over how you spend the little time you have!

So put your focus on the QUALITY of your time, as opposed to the quantity of your time. I know you might want to spend days on end with your kids, but you only have 2 hours. Are you going to spend that 2 hours staring at your phone, or are you going to engage with your family? Is that 2 hours going to be spent slaving over a stove for a meal nobody eats, or are you going to sit at the dinner table with pizza and real conversation?

There is absolutely ZERO shame in choosing quality time over quantity time. Yes, quality time might mean sacrificing a perfectly clean house. Quality time might mean letting go of that three course dinner. But I can guarantee you that your kids just want to spend time with YOU! They literally don’t care if they eat pizza over kale for dinner! Just enjoy the time you get!

3- Try to leave work at work

As a former teacher, I KNOW I’m asking for a lot with this point.

I have had a LOT of evenings spent cutting out laminated animals while supervising play time. I have put in grades while letting my son have more TV time than necessary.

Trust me, I KNOW that sometimes you have to bring your work home.

But lets go back to the second point and the first point. You ONLY have 24 hours in a day! So set a reasonable expectation for yourself when it comes to your work as well! When you take on way more than 24 hours are capable of handling, you don’t create a strong work ethic. You create burnout! And the worrisome thing about that burnout is that you don’t really know what you’re going to get burned out over. Will you burn out of your job or motherhood?

I don’t think either form of burnout is healthy for you! I want you to enjoy working AND enjoy motherhood if that’s what you want. So that requires some balance on our part.

Do you REALLY have to agree to that extra project at work? Sometimes, you really have to. There’s a time in life where you don’t have a choice but to bring home work, but take some time and really think about it.

Is it a must? or do you just feel like it’s a must?

4- Don’t feel bad if you need a break

I know a lot of people say that mothering is a 24 hour job. But I strongly disagree!

NOBODY can do a job 24 hours a day!

You WILL burn out if you have this 24 hour mindset! Somewhere in the middle of being an employee and a mom, you exist. Please don’t forget about you!

If you need to just sit in a silence for a few minutes, do NOT feel bad for asking your spouse to be on baby duty for a few minutes. There is no shame in asking Grandma to babysit because you can’t remember the last time you saw a movie with your friend.

Even moms need a union break. So make it happen!

Speaking of breaks….here’s the last point.

5- Make some time for yourself

We’ve already established that there are only 24 hours in a day. So yes, you must MAKE time for yourself.

It will not magically happen!

I think it is natural for moms to make themselves the last priority in their lives. We are so in love with our children, and such naturally driven creatures that we leave ourselves behind in the constant hustle. When we do nothing but constantly push ourselves, we end up burning out and becoming overwhelmed.

This is why making time for some self care is so important! When you take time and turn your brain off for just a few minutes, you recharge your batteries. Once those internal batteries are recharged, you’ll actually feel like you have something of yourself to give!

Now self care doesn’t have to be super grand or special. In fact, self care can be insanely simple! It could be as simple as enjoying a quiet cup of coffee, or going on a stroll around the neighborhood.

I wrote a blog post all about self care when you don’t have time! It’s called “5 Minute Self Care for the Christian Woman.” In that post I outline 8 different self care strategies that literally ONLY take 5 minutes! We can all take 5 minutes for ourselves!

Look at your day and see if you can spare even just 5 minutes to do something for yourself. If you need to wake up 5 minutes earlier just to enjoy a quiet breakfast for yourself, then do it! Your mind needs that time!

Related: Dear Christians, There’s No Shame in Self Care

You CAN be a great mom and a great employee!

I’m going to leave you with one final affirmation:

YOU CAN BE A GREAT MOM AND A GREAT EMPLOYEE!

When I went back to work after having my son, I struggled deeply with the guilt of leaving my son every day. That guilt caused me to not be there for my students like I should have. The guilt continued even when I came home. I didn’t even feel right playing with my son, because I felt like I had nothing left to give him. This trickled into my marriage, because I also felt like I couldn’t support my husband like he needed me to.

I trapped myself in a lie. A lie that said I can’t be good at both.

I do NOT want to see you fall into that trap! Mama…you DESERVE to be amazing at everything!

I lived a life where I thought I was a mediocre mom and a mediocre employee. That mindset didn’t make me feel mediocre, it made me feel like absolute trash.

Before I started implementing the strategies I just shared with you, I had to start telling myself one extremely important truth.

Are you ready for it?

You are an overcomer!

You can overcome the overwhelm, but it’s gonna take a little work on your end. When you start setting reasonable expectations for yourself, not stressing about time, leaving work at work, giving yourself a break, and practicing self care, you will see that the mountain of overwhelm in front of you is not immovable.