As a mum who is about to return to work, you have quite a bit on your plate. Besides the challenges of your job, there are the kids to worry about (are they getting along without you at home and are they doing their homework?), the household to manage, and your personal schedule to stick to. The trick to feeling in control is to have a plan for each area of your life that needs attention.
Get a handle on your life
With so much to attend to and worry about, it’s important to be on top of things.
Prep your weekly wardrobe: Every Sunday, plan your outfits, accessories and shoes for the week – it’s one less thing to worry about when you’re in a rush to leave the house.
Have time to spare: The extra time you give yourself will help you deal with the peak-hour rush and any emergencies, such as seeing to a sick child before you leave.
Find your work groove again: It’s natural to feel out of place and out of touch with work after a hiatus. Be confident and remember what you achieved in the past, but if you need extra guidance, talk to your boss about assigning you a mentor.
As for fitting in with your coworkers, keep being friendly and accept that it takes time to bond with them. And do be prepared that your colleagues (and even your bosses) may be younger than you.
Manage personal matters while at work: Until they adjust better to your absence, your kids or helper are likely to call you often in the day. If you’re in a meeting, excuse yourself to take the call and keep it short. Reassure your boss that the calls won’t affect your work. You should also call home during the day to check on everyone.
It’s useful to have a contingency plan for when your kids fall sick – speak to your employer about flexible working arrangements in such a situation.
Prioritise your family and your well-being: If you take work home, do it after your kids are in bed, and only after you’ve had some alone time with Hubby. Your family’s well-being should be your main priority.
Have some me time: Be kind to yourself. Take the time to centre yourself and to recharge. That way, you can give your husband and children the attention they deserve when you’re home, and will also be able to handle whatever your job throws at you.
Run your household efficiently
Just because you’re not home on weekdays doesn’t mean your household has to fall apart.
Draw up a schedule: This keeps things organised at home. Knowing that the kids and household are under control gives you peace of mind too. Make sure your helper is clear about her duties while you’re gone, and what time she has to do them. If your parents or in-laws are helping out with the kids, keep them in the loop with regard to the kids’ mealtimes, tuition and extracurricular arrangements, and so on.
Prepare for an emergency: Come up with a clear plan to deal with situations like a child falling sick or if an accident occurs, with specific instructions for what to do.
Help your family adjust
The transition may be hard on your hubby and kids too, but there are ways to make it more bearable.
Be upfront with your kids: Talk to them about why returning to work is important to you and the family, tell them about your new job, and make plans for the weekend with them so you all have something to look forward to. Also explain that, like them, you may have “homework” to do when you get home.
Your kids are probably used to being able to talk to you anytime at home but now make it clear that they should call you only during your lunch break or if it’s urgent.
Keep the peace at home: Without you at home to play referee, it’s more important than ever for your kids to try to get along. Tell them that you don’t have the time to handle petty quarrels while you’re at work and explain the importance of them solving their squabbles on their own. Give your helper, parents or in-laws clear instructions on how to break up fights or discipline a naughty child.
Make time for Hubby: Now that you’re doubly busy, you don’t want your husband to feel neglected or ignored. Plan date nights, meet for lunch occasionally, and check in on each other during the day.
This article was originally published in Simply Her May 2014.