If you are preparing to return to work your inner voice may be saying –yeh hah back to work! Adult conversation and hot coffee! Or, perhaps the inner voice is saying ‘are you mad?? How are you going to get organised? Hopefully you have your day care, babysitting sorted and are feeling comfortable and confident with what you have chosen. It may not stop the tears or the ‘guilts ’you may experience on your the first day back at work but hopefully you will feel reassured with the choices you have made about the care/school for your children.
My own experience with starting work again with two small children was challenging with part time nursing and teaching but my philosophy was very simple- takeaway for us and chops and veggies for the kids while the rest of the household ‘stuff’ was totally chaotic. Not something I’m particularly proud of because I’m sure I spent way too much on takeaway and probably bored my children’s taste buds to snores. I found organising myself and the family difficult because my nursing shifts were casual and usually last minute requests from the hospital. – that’s my excuse anyway.
As tough as it is, and it is tough, I believe those of you returning to work today seem to have more options than I did (in the olden days) to help you organise yourselves. A computer, phone and the internet provides a wealth of opportunities to help organise your life.
Things to do a few weeks before going back to work:
- Scout through your nearest supermarket and note the meals, food items, and the household essentials that you use.
- Order online and choose a delivery day and time that really suits you (not when baths and dinner are underway).
- Ask your butcher or green grocer if they deliver and will accept email or phone orders (meat can always be frozen).
- Look at the community notice boards for students or an older person looking for part time work as a mother’s helper.
- Place an advertisement on the notice board for help with very clear criteria regarding what you need. (keep track of all the things you do so that you have an idea what you want help with)
- Ask friends for recommendations for help in the afternoon or evenings when you arrive home.
- A mother’s helper could: bath children, iron, fold clothes, start dinner or any light duty that helps you and keeps your stress levels down
- As trust develops, help may extend to babysitting and more to help (Really wish I’d done this one!).
- Of course if finances permit, outsource as much cleaning, ironing and domestic ‘stuff’ as you can to free up time to be with your children.
- Organise a back up plan if you or the children are ill and they need to be picked up from school or childcare in your absence.
- Sit down with your partner or significant other & work out realistically what each of you are capable of doing in terms of leave, emergency pick ups and contingency plans because inevitably ‘things happen.’
- Bags for everyone packed the night before (Too obvious? You’d be surprised!)
- If you have family or friends who have offered to help –Accept their help!
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it especially when you are not well.
- It is difficult, not wanting to stretch a friendship or ask too much too often from family. It’s all about starting the conversation early with family and friends to understand what help you can rely on.
These are just a few ideas that I hope are helpful. No doubt you already have a few of your own, why not pop them at the bottom of this article so you can help others too.
Maintaining a balance between work, partner, children and a little time for you is a challenge and it is not easy. Try to let go of all the things that really don’t matter. The choice between a clean house and some fun time with your partner and children should be a no brainer.
Housework will always be there. Your babies and children are young for such a short time. Enjoy the days for what they bring, take away more than once a week, the odd unironed T shirt and dinner in front of TV with everyone, is all OK.
Good luck as you head back to work – casual, part or full time.