Transitions can be a hard time for both kids and adults. Heading back to work after a year long maternity or parental leave is a challenging time for many new parents and families.
What type of daycare do I sent my child to? Will they be safe? Is it better for me to stay home or go back to work? Will I be able to turn my brain on at work? How will I be able to take care of a baby and go to work?
There are a plethora of questions that come up when new parents are transitioning into this new stage of their journey. Many parents struggle with whether or not it is the right to decision to go back to work or to stay home another year with their child. It can be extremely hard to make this decision but once you have made the decision to go back to work you can then start to focus on making the transition smoother for everyone in your family.
Here are some tips that will help make your back to work experience flow more easily:
- Have a plan: Get yourself a calendar. Mark down all appointments, all meetings, all playdates. Plan your meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner if you can!). We plan both breakfasts and dinners in our house. It's not about having a down to the minute schedule, it's about having a flexible plan to keep you on track.
- Prepare the night before: Get as much as you can done the night before. Pack the daycare bag. Preplan any lunches that will need to be made. Know what outfit you are going to where. All of this will help ensure that your morning routine is as uncomplicated as possible.
- Find time for yourself: Even though you are going back to work, many parents struggle with this decision. Finding time for self care is important and will put you in the right mindset. Do an evening yoga class at home, take a warm bath, read a good book, watch a funny tv show, cuddle with your cats. Whatever floats your boat, take 10 minutes per day and do that!
- Avoid social media: Avoiding social media, especially during your transitional phase, will be helpful for your overall mental health. Social media has a tendency to draw us into others people lives and forget about how amazing our own life is. Focus on YOU and your family during this time.
- Find opportunities to connect with your partner: Now that both you and your partner are working there will be less time to be together. Seek out ways to get time away. Can you hire a babysitter? Or what about a date night at home? Order in some take out and watch a movie together. Seek ways to connect each week so that you keep your relationship strong.
- Keep your weekends (or days off) open: The best trick I have learned while working and trying to manage a family is to keep my weekend and days off as open as possible. The more I schedule into my off days the more stressed out I am. It seems counterintuitive for many people, especially go-go-go people like myself, but I cannot tell you how pivotal it has been to my overall mental health. I now take the time on weekends to read a book while my kids color, to watch a movie with my children, to go for a hike as a family.
- Avoid extra curricular activities: At least for the beginning of your transition period try to keep extra curriculars to a minimum. The extra running around after work or on weekends will be hard on you and your child. You will both be at your max in terms of social and new experiences and you will find that activities won't go as smoothly as they used to. Take a hiatus from swimming lessons or music classes for the next 6 months while you figure out a rhythm and see what your family can handle.
- Know that your baby will be safe and will do awesome: Sending our little babies to daycare can be incredibly hard on our heart. After all someone else is going to watch them go through their "firsts" and is going to see their smiles all day long. Be confident in your decision and know that the people that are caring for your child LOVE them as much as you do! They will benefit from the time with other children and new adults. All of my children have been in daycare - many different scenarios/providers and they are doing fantastic. Your babe will do awesome too!