I had a moment a few weeks ago and realized midday that it was Tuesday – not Thursday! The reality of this would be disappointing for most but for me it was overwhelming because I just returned to work after a full year of maternity leave.
This is the third time I have “transitioned” back to work after a maternity leave, so one would think I would have a handle on things. Alas, I do not. Actually, I think it has been harder to find my groove this time. There just seems to be more to do.Initially, when I came back to work I made lists (this worked wonders in pre-child life) to keep me on track. But at 8 p.m., after my little ones had gone to bed, I didn’t want to look at a list – all I wanted to do was fall asleep…on my hallway floor. So the lists were an epic fail. Epic!
My challenge? I don’t want my family to just survive this transition – I want us to thrive now that I am working outside the home!
To date, I have not found the perfect work-family life balance. I am going to give myself a few more months (or maybe years) to figure it out. At this point, what I can share are the things I have learned to help balance full time work and life at home. Here are a few helpful tips:
- Recognize that this is a major life change and speak to your employer to see if you can transition back to work.
- If you are breastfeeding, speak to your employer about a comfortable place to breastfeed or pump.
- Ask for help, ask for help…ASK for HELP! From your partner, family, friends or community supports. Don’t try to do it all because you will burn out. If you are fortunate to have people around that offer help, take it. It will make life much more manageable.
- Take care of yourself. Relax and unwind – you deserve it. Life is busy and fast so take some time to enjoy it.
- Sleep. Staying up really late to get things done is just plain silly. No good can come of it and you will definitely be too tired the next day to enjoy what you have done. So go to bed and get some shut-eye.
- Let it go…let it go (insert frozen soundtrack here). Try to let go of whatever it is keeping you up at night. If it’s not a must do, release it. It may feel odd at first but “oh so good” once you do.
- Give yourself and your family time to unwind, adjust and understand this change. Take it one day (or hour) at a time.
- Enjoy the time you have. I love my career but I miss being at home with my children, so I’ve had to reframe my outlook. Now I look at quality of moments – not the quantity. Be present and engaged in the moments you are together with your loved ones.
Two months in and I have lived to tell the tale. Hopefully, what I have learned so far during my return to work will make your transition back a bit smoother and if nothing else, prevent a hallway nap.
Do you have any creative tips for those returning to work?
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I am.really worried as a first time mom going back to work. 1. I am so attached 2. I work 12 hour shifts so i won’t see her most days 3. Breastfeeding and only able to put her to sleep. She is 10months old and if i could financially do it i would stay home