Navigating diaper changes, feedings, and baby's first milestones can be overwhelming. And through all this, the idea of returning to work lingers in the minds of many new parents. You may be sipping on your lukewarm coffee, gazing at your little one's tiny fingers and thinking, "How will I juggle both?"
While there’s no universal guidebook to parenting and work-life, some insights can help smooth the transition.
Expect and Understand the Emotional Rollercoaster
Returning to work can stir a multitude of emotions: guilt, pride, anxiety, enthusiasm. Feeling torn between work and your little one? That's entirely valid. Amid the chorus of voices — from those urging you to stay at home to those encouraging your professional ascent — remember you know your story best. Your journey is incomparable; it's unhelpful to measure your experiences against others.
Practical Preparations Before Returning to Work
Stepping back into the office isn’t just about reacquainting yourself with work. It’s about integrating both parts of you – the nurturing space of parenthood and the dynamic environment of your workplace. From choosing who will care for your baby during work hours to managing breastfeeding schedules, the preparations are multi-faceted.
To daycare or not to daycare:
Picturing someone else looking after your little one can be daunting – especially after having so much time together. Finding the right childcare can be like finding the perfect diaper - gentle, caring, and supportive. There's daycare, nannies, or maybe Grandma's loving arms. Whichever route you choose, ensure it aligns with your parenting values.
Milk at work:
If you're breastfeeding, managing milk at work might sound more complex than rocket science. But rest assured, with the right accessories and a little preparation, you’ll have this sorted. Don’t be afraid to call your HR representative to ask about their policies ahead of time to plan out anything you may need. Also, you have legal rights supporting you for pumping at work!
Planning Ahead: Ready, Set, Work!
Like everything in your parenting world, re-entry into your professional role post-baby requires preparation. Consider these tips while preparing yourself and your family for your return to work:
- Start early: A couple of weeks before your return, start adjusting your routine. If you plan to use daycare, test a trial run to help you and your baby ease into the new normal.
- Discuss flexibility: Before you get back to the office, chat with your employer about potential flexible work options. Whether it’s staggered hours or a day working from home, it could make a big difference in your new normal.
- Wardrobe revamp: This isn’t about dressing to impress. It’s all about feeling good in what you wear post-baby body. Remember, comfort is key – especially if you’re still breastfeeding!
Adjusting to New Routines: The Juggling Act
Merging your pre- and post-baby routines can seem like merging two different worlds. Streamlining routines like pre-packing baby’s bag the night before or setting up a coffee timer, can gift you a few extra moments of peace in the morning.
After your workday, dedicate some personal time between baby cuddles and feeding. Maybe it’s a short walk, a quiet read, or some deep-breathing exercises – whatever will help you align yourself for another day.
Balancing Work and Home
Imagine life as a seesaw with work on one side and parenthood on the other. Striking a balance may seem tricky, but with a few strategies you can master it:
- Set clear boundaries: Clock out when it’s time. Your work emails can wait and you are allowed to go home to your family.
- Time management: Invest in a good planner or app. While you schedule baby’s check-ups, and your work meetings make sure to also pencil in some me time.
- Quality over quantity: It’s about the moments not the minutes. Make the most of your mornings, evenings, or even brief breaks in between to enjoy this time with your growing family.
Asking for Help
Your support system becomes even more necessary when you head back to work. From someone to watch your kid to sharing responsibilities, don’t be afraid to lean on your circle for support during this transition. Regularly chat with your partner about shared responsibilities. Balance doesn’t mean 50/50 but an open line of communication will keep things equitable for each person’s capacity.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help outside of your usual group. If you are looking for tips to manage work stress with child milestones, empathetic ears, or even professional counselling – turn to support groups or professionals to help you balance this major change and take care of your mental health for both you and your family.
Returning to work is a deeply personal journey. Whether you're diving back into work or taking a more leisurely approach, trust your instincts. Remember, in this story of parenthood and career, you’re both the author and the hero.