First days are always scary – from kindergarten to adulthood. So if you’re going back to work after a significant break — you’re not alone if you feel like the new kid at school again.
But now you’re a mom. And you likely have kids to worry about, a house to keep managing and pets to wrangle –all while learning the ropes and trying to prove yourself at a new place.
Things will fall through the cracks sometimes. What matters is how you bounce back. Here are some tips to help you keep it all together while succeeding at your new job.
How to Keep It Together When Going Back to Work
1) Create a Care Plan –Your options are most likely day care, nanny, school, friends/family or a mix of both. You’ll want to compare all the options, not just on what is most cost-effective, but consider convenience, helpfulness and location factors.
If your kids are in school, you’ll want to arrange pickup with an after school sitter (average cost is under $200 a week) or after-school care.
2) Put it in an App –There are dozens of apps for iPhone and Android that make it easier to keep your family schedules orderly. Moms Made Easy helps organize individualized information for each child.
Family Organizer manages shared calendars, lists, and email reminders to keep everyone in the loop. You’ll want to sync up all necessary caregivers to make sure each child gets to their play date, doctor’s appointments and soccer practice on time.
3) Talk to the Kids – This is a great time for you to role model bouncing back and taking charge. Have a family meeting, discuss the fact that you have certain skills that you are now going to put to use in a different way, and explain what this means for the kids.
Suggest they rally around you. And then give jobs that can help you all get out the door: heating up breakfast, organizing school work at night, putting out the trash. This is a chance to be a solid team during a rocky time – and can help you all get a boost from the positive energy. Make sure to find a time to check in each day as well.
4) Create a “Village” –Build yourself a community of friends and loved ones, including parents, friends, neighbors and caregiver who you can turn to for a carpool, sick kid emergency and reminders about the things that can easily slip through the cracks (like the school potluck dinner!).
And don’t forget to turn to other working moms for guidance and advice – they know what you’re going through and make a great support system!
5) Have Backup – Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. You can’t predict emergencies, sudden illnesses or sitter cancellations. Turn to your “village” – someone in your strong community will be able to step in. Ideally, you should have at least three people to turn to. And check with HR at your new company.
6) Prep Meals Ahead – Your freezer and pressure cookers are about to be your best friends. Prep big meals you can freeze for later. And if you can’t put a child in charge of lunch, consider making a big batch of sandwiches on the weekends, and freeze them too.
7) Forget Balance – While you’ll soon realize that there’s (usually) no such thing as Work/Life Balance, there is a healthy integration. You just need to find it. Don’t put pressure on yourself to find ways right away.
Right now, this job and your kids are priorities 1 and 2. You will eventually learn ways to add more priorities to your plate. In the meantime, try to wiggle in weekly “fun” like a night out with girlfriends, bowling with the kids, yoga, a run or just unplugging and ordering take-out!
Be patient with yourself. It might be difficult at first, but you will get the hang of it, and so will your kids. If they’re old enough to understand, talk to them about it, and make sure they know that together, you’re a team
In fact a 2014 Care.com survey found that half of working mothers feel that working enables them to be strong role models for their children. Look to your village and support system, and remember – your kids love you no matter what.