A month ago I started a brand new part-time job (Yay! You can watch me on Hallmark Channel’s “Home & Family” a few days a week… doing on-camera segments about all-things-mom-and-consumer. I actually did a segment about moms returning to work! OK. Shameless plug is now over.) Much at my house has changed in the last 30 days. Now that I’m coming up for air, I’m realizing that I was a bit blindsided by that inevitable ‘adjustment’ period that I’ve been experiencing. At first I thought I lost my jive in the workplace, but now I’m realizing a few things. (Working mom lifestyle genius and friend Samantha Ettus of Working Moms Lifestyle once warned about this.)
Here are a few useful reminders and tips (that I’ve personally learned) if you’re planning to return to the workforce a few years after having babies:
GOING TO WORK IS DIFFERENT THAN WORKING FROM HOME. Remember that, as obvious as it may sound. Working from home, YOU are THE boss. Working AT WORK = YOU ARE NOT YOUR BOSS. There are office dynamics, practices and orders of operation that are beyond your control. Get in there, jump in and be ready to hit the ground running… but also give yourself time to ‘adjust’ to the basic physical change of working with a team again. I didn’t expect myself to need time to ‘adjust’ to this, but lo and behold I have. If you’re like me, you might feel a bit awkward and out of sorts at the beginning (even question yourself if you’re doing things right), but just keep going and keep your focus. You’ll get your groove back soon enough.
ORGANIZE MEAL PLANS ON SUNDAY. (Or, whatever day you like.) I have a rough idea of what my family is going to eat each weekday night at the beginning of every week. I buy everything and have a plan. Also, stick to easy dishes that don’t take tons of prep time. Save recipe experimentation for weekends.
GET YOUR CHILDCARE/SITTER TO SHOW UP 1 HOUR BEFORE AND STAY 30 MINUTES LATER THAN YOU ACTUALLY NEED THEM. Even though I’ve become a pro at doing ‘kitchen-makeup’, it’s still beneficial to be able to get ready and prepare for your day in the privacy of your bathroom without toddlers taking apart your sock drawer. And for when you come home, anticipate that you might need those extra 30 minutes to go to your room, take your shoes off, change your clothes and take a deep breath before jumping back into mommy-mode. Or maybe you even just want to stay in your car for a bit too.
REMEMBER THAT YOUR KIDS ARE ADJUSTING AS WELL. I forgot about this one… totally. They might need ‘adjustment time’ when you first return home, etc. There were a few weeks where I couldn’t understand why my sweet, mature and understand 3-year old was acting like a total brat. Or why my younger girl suddenly could not let go of her blanket without an excruciating fit. Oh. Mommy’s not home as much as she used to be. Yeah. That. I cut everyone a little bit more slack at my house (for the first month, anyways)… but now it’s back to trying to ditch that pacifier.
TALK TO YOUR SPOUSE. I also forgot to do this one until I hit a teeny weeny breaking point about him not helping me bathe the girls one night. Instead of crying and throwing a fit and screaming “You know I need help now!” at your husband amidst toddler-sceaming and protests about brushing their teeth, try this: Babe, I just need to let you know that I might need a little extra support while I adjust to this new schedule/etc the first few weeks.
BE PREPARED TO MISS YOUR KIDS. Missing your kids throughout the day might be an unavoidable no-brainer, but AS READY AS I WAS TO JUMP BACK INTO A CONSISTENT JOB, I find myself missing my girls when I’m gone all day. I wasn’t prepared for it and found myself a little confused when it happened. Does missing my girls mean that I don’t want to work outside the home? NO. Does it mean I should feel guilty? NO. It just means that I really do love them as much as I thought I did.
GET A SITTER/CHILDCARE THAT ALSO CLEANS YOUR HOME. No need for explanation here.
WHAT ARE YOU GO-TO TIPS FOR RETURNING TO WORK AFTER BABIES?