This can be a real time of anxiety and stress for parents particularly if it is your first child. Alternatively for some parents like my friend with 2 year old triplets, beginning 1 day of care was cause for celebration. Depending on your personality, change in general may be a big deal for you. On top of the changes in routine, priorities and family roles there is also the emotional side of things, the anxiousness of leaving your child at childcare, their transition and the ongoing quality of care.
We have gathered some hints and tips for parents to help that back to work transition be as smooth as possible:
Keep connected to colleagues
Having your baby. When you have your baby share the news at work, hopefully they gave you a great send off so they will be keen to know all about your new arrival. When you feel comfortable take bub to meet the team. This gives you a chance to catch up with your colleagues, hear about any changes or developments with work and clients. We are not advocating for daily email checks, but you may just want to touch base every once in a while and if you are quite happy in baby land, ask a colleague to fill you in. Not every organisation is gifted with an internal communications team keeping everyone up to date with developments so develop your own mechanisms to keep in touch. Ask to be kept informed of restructures, policy changes and relevant information.
If any colleagues within the organisation are pregnant or a soon to be Dad due at the same time as you, you may want to connect with them before you head off on parental leave. Sharing information on HR policies, Centrelink forms, parental leave and possibly even connecting when you are on leave will help you build some supportive structures to help you on your return for mums and dads, even just that knowing nod in the elevator might be all you need to get you by. You may have an online support network through a Facebook group you can use as your ‘brains trust’. Find out about other people’s experiences by asking around and some generally googling You might want to check out our article on 5 things they never told you about going back to work.
Talk to your organisation
About 4-8 weeks before you are due back to work, arrange to meet with your Human Resources Department and Manager. Ask for an update if there has been any adjustments or changes to your role? Ask for additional information like copies of any company policies and procedures that might have changed. Any staff meetings and conferences you could attend leading up to your return date, if they have moved your desk. The aim is to minimise surprises, to make your feel confident and comfortable about your return. If you plan to breastfeed/express, confirm if there is an appropriate place for you to do this. Talk to your organisation if you are having difficulties securing childcare to they have any support available to assist you in this area? And if you are interested in asking about flexible arrangements this is a good time to do it.
The Great Aussie Bake Off
In preparation for starting work get organised and pre-empt the pinch points.
You, your partner, your parents anyone with culinary talents and kind enough to offer can help so you can stock that freezer with some lovely meals you can quickly zap after a long day. Once you have settled into a routine, do a meal plan
Get a plan for cleaning the house and get everyone on board or outsource.
Have a look at the online grocery providers, you can pre-order and have it delivered to your kitchen table. You could also subscribe to the companies that provide you with all the ingredients to make a delicious meal, whatever you can do to make that task easier and help you be more prepared.
You and Your Wardrobe
When you head back to work minimise your commitments in those first few weeks as it will be quite tiring and demand a lot of emotional energy. Having a baby can mean huge changes to your mind and body so it’s good to refocus your energies and indulge yourself a little on your return to work. We have some tips to invest in some back to work staples. You could also freshen up with a hair cut, massage, or pedicure to make you feel good inside and out.
It’s not all about you
There is that small person in your life who maybe a little dissatisfied with the transition. Try to start this before your first work day and phase their start with a few hours a day building up to a whole day. You and your child need to get to know your care givers. As you know it can take a while for a child to form a bond with a educator so take it slow, have realistic expectations and be prepared for a few bumps in the road caused by sickness or just missing you.
Be kind to yourself, get as much sleep as possible, and eat well. To be honest it’s going to be hard, any transition time is, but if you can prepare and surround yourself with a network of supportive friends and colleagues it will make life for the whole family a whole lot easier. It doesn’t get tougher than this so stay strong! Here is one mums’s story, it’s mine. Good luck x