Returning to work after you become a parent is an exciting step, and there’s a lot to think about, including how you’ll fit in the extra responsibilities. These tips can help you get the most out of your time at home and at work.
Returning to work: planning and getting ready
1. Make changes before you go back to work.
This can make things easier. One way to do this is to think about what your new daily routine will be like and whether there are things you can start doing now to ease the transition – for example, trialling a new child care routine or finding a back-up carer.
2. Plan your child care well ahead of time.
Choose the type of child care that you think will be right for your family, and then plan your child’s transition into care.
3. Talk with family, friends and carers about your plans.
They might have ideas for saving time or for helping you spot potential problems before they arise.
4. Plan some food and cooking shortcuts.
For example, you could try cooking more than you need and freezing leftovers for future meals. This is one way of spending less time at the stove. Many supermarket magazines also have quick and easy recipes that take less than half an hour to make.
5. Try to leave work distractions at work.
Now that you have less time with your baby, you’ll want to make the most of the time you do have together.
6. Do what you can the night before.
Things like laying out clothes or making lunches all make the morning less of a rush.
7. Stick to a routine if you can.
Family routines help children know what to expect. Routines can also help them to behave better.
8. Take your child or family to work social occasions.
Your colleagues will appreciate your situation more if they meet your family.
Child care and returning to work
9. Visit your child at child care, if you can.
Even a few minutes with your child at child care will help you both cope with your new work routine. In the early days, you could try this as often as you can, and gradually ease off.
10. Build a relationship with your child’s carer.
This can really cut down on your stress and your child’s stress. Doing simple things like letting your carer know how much you appreciate their care is a great start. A photo of carers on the fridge at home, as well as a photo of yourself in the care environment, will help your child connect the two settings. Let your carer know if you need to change your schedule.
11. Tackle any questions or worries about your child’s care quickly.
If you let things stew, they can take up valuable brain space you’ll need at work! And talking to your child’s carer regularly – not just when you have concerns – is another way to build a relationship and make it easier to tackle any worries that do come up.
12. Have a back-up carer for your child.
This will really reduce pressure and worry for you. Somebody who can help out at short notice and who you trust is the key. Some options are friends, parents from playgroup, grandparents, other relatives and partners.
13. Have a back-up plan for when your child gets sick.
Decide in advance how you can tackle or share this responsibility. For example, if you have a partner, can one of you change your hours or work from home for a day or so to mind your child? Or you might need to find somebody else who can help out with emergencies.
You might like to check out our extensive range of articles on child care
Making time for family – and time for you
14. Plan some family time.
This can be a real help if you find your work responsibilities are making it harder for your family to spend time together. For example, you could plan to go for a walk with your partner and child a couple of evenings each week.
15. Grab chances to relax and unwind when you can.
This will help your stress levels and overall happiness. If you can, taking public transport to work can be a great way to have some time to read or listen to music without anyone bothering you. During your lunch break, take a walk around the park, do some window shopping, go to the gym, have coffee with a friend or read a book – whatever it takes to have some ‘me time’.