After spending time at home raising your children, you may find that you are ready to return to work. The prospect can be exciting and daunting at the same time. When you think your return through carefully, however, the process can be less confusing and stressful that you might initially think. Balancing your family and your work responsibilities can be difficult, but these tips and ideas can help.
- Before you start work, try out new child care routines, new wake and sleep schedules, and get the rest of the family used to your not being available during certain hours of the day. You might ask your significant other to take out the trash or to give the children a bath for a day or two prior to your starting work to help him or her get used to the change in routine.
- Network with other working parents to see if they have ideas on how to help you juggle your child, family and professional responsibilities. They may have worked through the same situation you face, and their ideas can be of great value. Your parents, friends, play group parents, child care providers or others close to you and your family can help you design a schedule and routine that will help your family get used to its new “normal.”
- Do your best to keep your work at work. Your family time is that much more precious now. Turn off your cell phone at home, or only answer work emails after your children are in bed. You might also get up a half hour early so that you can work on the computer before your children wake up. You have many options to stay connected to work when you are off work, but your first priority after work hours is to your family.
- Prepare for the next day the night before. Making lunches, laying out clothes, and preparing the coffee maker can all be helpful to keep the morning chaos down a bit.
- Start cooking extra portions of food and freezing them. This can give you some extra time a couple of evenings a week where you do not have to cook or clean up a lot of dishes. You might also prepare meals that take only a short time to make.
- Keep your children on a routine as much as possible. The more they know what to expect from day to day, the fewer behaviour problems you are likely to face. This keeps what family time you have now as a working parent from being stressful.
- Find back-up child care in case you or your significant other cannot care for a sick child. This is also important if you have a last-minute work meeting or business trip. Also stay in touch with your child care provider to better understand how to help your child through the transition process of your being at work.
- Let your child care providers know how much you appreciate them to create a positive relationship. A friendly, open, communicative relationship with your child’s care provider can help you keep your mind on work at work so that you do not worry about your children while they are in someone else’s care.
- Make time for you during your work day. Whether you ride the bus or train to work to get some extra reading time, or you get out of your work building during your lunch break, you need some time to focus on yourself during your day. The same is true after work hours. Try to take a bath for a half hour alone, or just listen to some music before you go to bed. This is another reason to have your children on a routine every day: if your children go to bed at a consistent, early time, you can have a couple of hours to yourself in peace and quiet.
- The more organized you are at home, the better you will be able to stay focused at work. When you let your home worries reduce your performance at work, you are not giving your all. Your employer will notice, and she is less likely to want to give you raises, consider you for promotions or say good things about you during your performance reviews. Your colleagues will also be more likely to not want to work with you.
Balancing work and home is not an easy thing to do. However, with preparation and organization, you can give your best to your family and to your job without anyone feeling like he is not getting the best you can offer. You are not superhuman, so you must also take time for to relax and recharge so that you are ready to face the next day’s challenges.