You’ve prepped for nine full months. Decorated the nursery, attended baby showers, washed all those little blankets, booties and onsies. Then you did it…it all led up to that moment of giving birth to your sweet new babe. Looking back now, that was the easy part. Now you have to think about raising your mimi me all while thinking about going back to work and balancing a life again.
For some moms, this is when the real trials begin. You know how they say when you want something done, give it to a busy mom? Well this finally all makes sense but that doesn’t mean mentally we are ready and capable. Like how parenting takes a village, going back to work and focusing on a career takes support of other women doing the same thing. That’s why fellow working mom Lori Mihalich-Levin started Mindful Return. BTW she’s an attorney, wife, mom of two AND founder (NBD), while helping mom’s navigate this new chaos through a learning program and support group.
We chatted with Lori about her startup journey and to learn more about what Mindful Return has to offer for mom’s, just dealing with “mom stuff”.
Tell us about your journey and how you came up with Mindful Return?
For me, the prospect of planning for and heading back to work after maternity leave came with a jumble of emotions, spanning the gamut from terror, to uncertainty, to fear, to excitement. But when I had my two little redheads (now ages 3 1/2 and 5 1/2), there were strikingly few resources out there to help with this transition. Courses on how to give birth, breastfeed, massage your baby, and puree baby food? Sure. But an educational program that teaches you how to go back to work without losing your mind (or at least to reassure you that all mamas are struggling too)? Zip. Zero. Zilch.
Through Mindful Return, I set out to start filling this void of information. And to create a community of amazing working mamas who are all going through this transition at the same time. Creating Mindful Return was a way for me to create the peer mentorship program and curriculum for a successful return from leave that I wished I had access to when I was returning to work.
You still work on a 60% schedule with your law firm. How is that in balancing a new venture like Mindful Return?
I actually joined my firm last year on a 60% schedule. Prior to that, I was working full time at a nonprofit trade association, and I only had evenings and weekends for Mindful Return. I appreciate now having one workday per week to focus on Mindful Return!
Tell us about the e-course Mindful Return provides?
Mindful Return is a four-week, online e-course, born from the lessons I learned returning to a full-time job twice after having my boys. I discovered a lack of good information for new mamas on what it’s really like to go back to work, and how to help that return to go more smoothly. This course will empower you to plan a thoughtful, peaceful, and successful return to work after maternity leave and will connect you with other mamas who are returning to work at the same time you are.
When is the best time to take the course?
The mamas who have taken my course say the very best time to take it is when you are out on leave. Taking it while you’re pregnant comes in as a close second. (The time right after going back to work can be a bit crazy.)
What type of interaction does the e-course provide?
Because each course session starts on a specific date, all the returning-to-work moms in that session have an opportunity to get to know one another through the course’s discussion prompts. I also moderate the course with one other mama (an alum of the course), so that each person’s posts get our individualized attention.
What sort of access will members receive after the course?
After taking the course, alumnae have access to a private Facebook group where all the mamas from all the sessions support one another through their working motherhood journey. Also, a member can always return to the course at any time to access prior lessons; and she can take any future session of the course for no additional charge.
What do you wish you would have known then, that you know now (in terms of starting Mindful Return)?
That anyone can truly be an entrepreneur! When I initially saw a need that I believed was important to fill (a curriculum and supportive community for new working moms), my initial reaction was: great, someone should do something about this. I’m a lawyer, not an entrepreneur.
With creativity, determination, passion, and a willingness to learn new things, though, it’s absolutely possible to start a company. I also learned to remember that anything can be done in baby steps. It took me a few months working in 30-minute increments at night to create the course, but little by little, a dream can become a reality.
What’s a day in the life of Lori look like?
There is no typical day. Monday-Thursday, you’ll find me at my office, practicing health care law. Fridays, you’ll find me working on Mindful Return. Mornings, weekends, and evenings from 5-8:30pm, you’ll find me loving up my little redheads and my awesome husband. And from about 8:30-10:30pm, you’ll find me doing the “split-shift” and working on whatever needs done either in my legal role or with Mindful Return. Life is full, and exciting.
What is it like raising a family in DC?
I haven’t raised a family anywhere else, so I have little to compare it to. I didn’t grow up in a city, though, so there are things I laugh about as I watch my kids grow up in an urban setting. For example, we were in the Shenandoah Mountains on vacation, and my oldest asked “Mommy, where are all the people?? Where are all the cars? Why are there so many cows?”
I love the easy access to public transportation and all the museums, parks, and cultural opportunities DC has to offer. It’s a fun (if expensive) place to be raising kids.
If you could give one piece of advice to another mama, what would it be?
To remind yourself that you are enough, mama. Truly.
How do you create balance in your work life and personal life (wife/partner, mama)?
Priorities and boundaries (see more here)! My favorite mantra (from Greg McKeown’s Essentialism), “If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a yell no.”
What is one thing you have had to sacrifice for the sake of motherhood?
What is one question you have for other mamas out there?
It’s more of a challenge than a question, but what opportunities do you see to be a leader as a working mom? We are blazing paths in our workplaces every day, and I’d love to hear their stories!
Anything else you would love to share?
That my new book, Back to Work after Baby: Planning and Navigating a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave, will be coming out in early 2017!