Adjusting to Work/Home Transitions
Returning to work after maternity leave, or at any time, can be a stressful transition. It is difficult to “do it all” and to do it well, unless you are lucky enough, or wealthy enough, to have a “staff.” It is important to set realistic goals for yourself.
Obviously, the most important goal is to find good childcare, whether this means a nanny, child care center, or family-home day care. Here are some suggestions for juggling work and family a little more easily:
- Develop routines to simplify your morning regimen, your return home in the evening, and bedtime.
- Pack up everything you will need for the morning the night before. The more you can do the night before, the more relaxed your morning will be.
- Get up half an hour early, so you can have some quiet time in the morning to read the paper, have a cup of coffee, or get ready for work without feeling rushed.
- Use your commute time to listen to music or a book on tape, or just to be still and rest. This is also a good time to mentally transition between home and work in the morning and work and home in the evening.
- Set up “goodbye” rituals with your children. These rituals help young children deal with transitions.
- Have a back-up plan for emergencies. Children get sick, as do nannies, and child care facilities and schools close for holidays and vacations. Parents should research their options for backup care before they need the help.
- Get as much help as you can afford.
- If you can’t afford outside help, simplify things at home. Cook a few things on the weekend that can be eaten all week long. Clean the bathroom while your children are bathing.
- Take care of yourself! We are sometimes so busy nurturing everyone else that we forget to nurture ourselves. Make time to exercise. Schedule time with friends. Get a sitter for a night out with your partner or a friend.
Many parents find that once they have found good childcare and have figured out some strategies for being efficient at home, they really enjoy being at work; it can be very stimulating! It just takes a little time to adjust, as it did when you became a parent.