When I was a teacher, this time of year meant returning to work after having my summer off with the kids. Though it was never as hard as the first time, each fall was a difficult transition for the whole family: suddenly I was not there full-time to clean the house, prepare meals, do laundry, buy groceries, etc. Though heading back to work after being home with kids is a challenging time, there are several things moms can do to ease the transition.
Plan and Practice Ahead of Time
The transition will be easier on everyone if there is time to adjust to the new routine. If your children are not yet in school, research and commit to a childcare option that is comfortable for everyone. Transitioning a breast-fed baby to a bottle will be less stressful if you give it some time – you don’t want to worry about whether or not your child is going hungry on your first day back to work. Give yourself and your child plenty of time to take care of learning new skills like potty training. It will go better if the pressure’s off. In the days leading up to the Big Day, practice getting up and dressed by the time everyone needs head out the door. Practicing ahead of time can instill confidence in kids and ease anxiety for mom.
Starting back to work part-time is a great option for moms if it is available, but often it is not. If you’ll be working as many hours as your spouse, make sure he knows that you will need an equal partner in household chores. Most husbands are more likely to respond positively if presented with a request for help instead of a demand. Make a list of what needs to get done and divide it up based on personal preferences. Maybe your husband is a master with the vacuum, but isn’t big on cleaning bathrooms. Older kids can pitch in, too. Even if they are ambivalent about mom going back to work, you can sweeten the deal with an allowance or reward for completing chores.
Go Easy On Yourself
This is the most important part! It seems that guilt and motherhood just go together; stay-at-home moms often feel guilty that they are not contributing to the family’s income, and working moms feel guilty about kids having to go to daycare, or just spending less time with them. Remember that quality, not quantity, counts when it comes to time with your kids. It’s better for kids to get a few hours per day with a happy, fulfilled mom than a whole day with a resentful one that doesn’t really enjoy staying home. Also, give yourself permission not to have a perfectly clean house or home-baked cookies for your kids’ snack. Trying to do it all is the fast lane to burnout. Finally, remember to make time for yourself – for exercise, relaxation or girls’ night out. By taking care of yourself, you are taking care of your kids’ mom, and that benefits the whole family.
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