15 Ways to Make Returning to Work Easier on Everyone
According to the Australian Bureau of Labour Statistics, the average amount of time a mother takes off before returning to work is 32 weeks and the average age of bub when Mum returns to work is 28 weeks; however, all employees in Australia are eligible for one year of unpaid parental leave if they have completed at least 12 months of continuous service with their employer.
There is no magic formula when it comes to making the transition from stay at home mum to working parent. Regardless of whether your child is two months or two years, it’s not going to be easy to make this adjustment. Whether working full-time, part-time, at night, during the week, on weekends, from home or in any other arrangement, we hope these tips will help.
SCOUT CHILDCARE OPTIONS MONTHS IN ADVANCE
Take weekly visits and get bub used to the new environment. That way, when it’s time for your little one to head to daycare, to Nana’s or to go with an au pair, both you and bub are more prepared for it, especially mentally.
MAKE USE OF YOUR WEEKENDS (OR TIME OFF)
Use this time to meal plan, get lunches ready, sort the clothes for the week, pack your bags as well as your child’s bag, express and store breastmilk and plan the activities for the upcoming week.
It’s time to let go of the reigns a little bit which may mean giving up some of the tasks that you simply don’t have time for. It’s so much more important to spend an hour playing with your little one before he has to go to bed than using this time to scrub the toilets. So, if you can afford it, get someone to do these tasks that you simply don’t have time for anymore.
GET READY FIRST
Before you get your bub ready, get yourself ready. If worse comes to worse, you can always drop bub off at daycare with only a shirt and nappy. But no one is going to be too impressed if you show up to the office without a skirt on.
Another good idea is to wear a dressing gown while getting ready in the morning just in case you get yoghurt or baby spit-up all over your work clothes.
ALWAYS LEAVE TEN MINUTES AHEAD OF SCHEDULE
This means you have a few extra minutes to linger at the daycare centre if bub is upset, you don’t have to stress if you happen to hit every red light on the way to the office and you can actually walk up the stairs to work rather than sprinting as fast as you can in hopes you have beat the boss.
BE ULTRA-ORGANISED WITH FUN PRODUCTS
Labels, Tupperware containers, breast milk storage tins – there are so many fun products on the market to help with organisation so why not use them? This is a great way to get excited to return to work and can save you heaps of time at night and in the morning.
You won’t be able to do it all and some nights, you are simply going to be too tired to attend a friend’s birthday dinner or candle party. It’s okay to say no.
USE A ROUTINE CHART OR A TO-DO LIST
This can help keep you organised for what you need to bring and do every day. It is also such a great feeling ticking off each item, even the menial tasks, during the day.
When you arrive home from work, switch off straight away. Take off your shoes, sit on the floor and play with your baby. Colour. Make Lego. Play blocks. Sing songs and take in this precious time.
Try not to think about the tasks ahead – dinner, baths, cleaning up, etc. Right now, your only job is to spend quality time with your little one. So put 100 per cent into it.
SPEND 10 MINUTES EACH NIGHT GOING OVER YOUR PLAN FOR THE NEXT DAY
Think about any tasks that are due, meetings you need to attend, and appointments for the kids and other errands that you may need to run. Mentally prepare yourself for the day ahead.
If you are starting to crumble under pressure, talk to your boss and your partner about it. It is okay to feel stressed and tired. Sometimes simply cutting back a day of work or getting your partner to cook dinners a couple nights a week can make a huge difference.
ALLOW YOURSELF TIME TO GET INTO A ROUTINE
It’s not going to happen overnight and during the first month, you are going to be overwhelmed and tired. But it will get easier as you uncover motherhood. It’s not easy. But you can do it!
You can have your cake and eat it too. It’s not easy but it is possible. And you’re doing it! So reward yourself by taking some ‘me’ time, buying something pretty or simply indulging in an expensive bottle of champagne or box of chocolates.
DITCH THE GUILT
It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to cry. It’s hard. Trust me, I know.
It does get easier but there are going to be days when your little one only wants you and walking away as he screams for mummy is so hard. But, remember, you are doing the best thing for everyone. And you are doing a great job. So take a deep breath, head to work and know that in a few short hours, you will be greeted with the happiest face and the sweetest cuddles in the world.
And this makes it all worthwhile.