For many mums, when your baby turns one can be a confusing time. On one hand, you’re excited that you got to see this amazing thing grow before your eyes. You survived the first year! On the other hand, for many, it can signal time to go back to work. The life you had before this bundle of joy turned up. For some, it is a welcome change. For others, it’s terrifying as they figure out how the balance is going to operate.
Top tips for Mums going back to work
Know your worth isn’t defined by the number of days you work
So, you’ve dropped to part-time, so what?! Delivering great value and great service is not limited to those that only work 5 days. You are not letting anyone down by working part-time. You can be every bit the powerhouse you were before kids, should you choose to be again in the time you have. Forget about comparing yourself with others. Let go of the negative thoughts that someone may think you’re not pulling your weight. The only critic you have to answer to is yourself. And boy can you be harsh. Let go of your beliefs and limitations you had of what working “part-time” means and recognise what it actually is. Own your space, put in boundaries to make your precious time productive.
If you are part-time, only work part-time
Sounds obvious and yet so many of the Mums I meet tell me how they are meant to be 3 days a week and end up working 4, 5 or even 6 because they don’t want to let anyone down. Or they go back to work full time as they feel they have no choice. Whatever works for you, part-time or full-time, make it happen. But on your terms!
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I’m not talking the odd day here and there to get across a hump. I’m talking when working extra days becomes the norm. Boundaries are important to maintain your sanity and the reason you went part-time in the first place. Make sure people know when you are and are not available. Put your out of office on 1 hour before you leave for your days off. Include the days you are available in your voicemail message.
Build up your immunity before you start back
You’ve had time off (yeah right!) with your newborn and now you’re going back to work. You may not exactly be in peak physical shape or well rested! Heading back to work with the additional pressure of working out how you will balance everything, you may find yourself getting sick quite a bit. Take some extra Vitamin C and Echinacea for a couple of weeks before and your first month back. This, combined with lots of water each day should give you a good head start!
Work out your support plan with your partner and your boss
For some, your child may be starting day-care for the first time when you go back to work. It’s not uncommon for children to pick up lots of illnesses in those first few months. This can put added pressure on a mumwhi already feels like she’s not contributing enough by working part-time. You going back to work is a family affair. Work out the backup plan for when your child is sick and who will be the first point of call. Chat through with your boss AHEAD of time,what the plan will be should this happen. Can you work from home? What are the priority meetings you must dial into? Discussing this before it happens will help you feel more prepared in the event you need to rush off from work, even in the first week back!
Work out ways to make your life easier as you transition back in those first weeks
If you’re organised enough, it’s a good idea to do a whole load of batch cooking to have in the freezer ready to go. Do your grocery shopping online and have it delivered. Order takeaways a couple of nights. Get a cleaner in if you don’t already have one. Anything to help take the edge off as you will be exhausted from the shift in focus back to work. All these will help you remain resilient as you find your feet again.
And last but not least…
Accept that you are not Superwoman
There is no such thing as work life balance. There are only ways of balancing out how you spend your time. The difference? Accepting that some weeks some things will go to the backburner whilst other areas take priority. It is a constant shuffle of what needs to be priority this week to the next. Rather than trying to make everything a priority all at the same time. It’s simply not feasible. Be kind to yourself. You are doing a great job. Recognise the wins in the small things.
It is a juggle however you’ve got this! Focus on what you are achieving instead of what you think you’re not.