Returning to work after having a baby (whether it be your first, second or fifth!) can be exciting.
You may be returning to work for the adult social interaction, mental stimulation or for financial reasons. Whatever the reason, it may take some time to readjust, but with the right preparation you’ll be able to smoothly sail over any rough seas that come your way.
We asked some of our recently returned working parents what their tips were to make the transition as simple as possible. The #1 thing they all said was: “Plan ahead…” The more planning you can do, the better. Here’s what the team had to say:
1. Plan your childcare
Consider your childcare options even before the baby is born. Will someone in your support network step in to look after the children when you go back to work? If that isn’t an option, consider Family Day Care or Long Day Care and put your name down on a few waiting lists as soon as you can.
2. Plan your morning and evening routines and practice them
In the weeks leading up to your return to work, do a few dry runs of what your mornings and evenings will be like. It’ll help your child adjust to their new care situation and give you the chance to see where you can streamline things. Packing your bag and the baby’s bag the night before, as well as putting out yours and the baby’s clothes can help make the morning run smoothly. These ideas leave you to focus on enjoying the quality time with your baby, rather than rushing through those precious hours.
3. Plan for flexibility
The transition back to work may involve some new complexities, such as what happens when your child is sick and needs to go to the doctor during your work hours? When will you fit in time for yourself to keep fit and healthy? Consider what you’d like to achieve during a typical week and map out how this might work best for you. You may need to make a few changes (especially in the first few weeks) to ensure you don’t end up exhausted or wildly over committed. Also, make a plan with your support network and employer for what will happen when you need to work but your child also needs you. Give your employer plenty of notice with all the child-related events you’ll be attending – for example, concerts and library days. The more planned you are, the more chance your employer will have to work flexibly around your family commitments.
4. Plan for some downtime
It might seem like the last thing on your mind, but carving out some me-time each week can help with the transition back to work. Head to the gym, go out for a coffee or for a long walk. Whatever me-time takes your fancy, plan for it as often as you can and also use any commuting time as a bit of a break too.
5. Plan for financial assistance
Check in with Centrelink to see what financial assistance your family may be entitled to. Help with childcare costs and potential tax benefits may be available, depending on your circumstances.
6. Plan for your child/children’s future
Setting up a savings account for your child/children can give you peace of mind. Putting away a small amount every week (even $5) can really add up over time (in fact, it can add up to $4,680 (excluding interest) by the time they’re 18! That’s a good contribution toward a first car!).
7. Plan your life admin
If you can, organise a few months’ worth of life admin before heading back to work. Car rego and insurance due soon? Health insurance? Family birthdays? It’s a great idea to pre-purchase presents and do the necessary research on insurance renewals before heading back to work. It can help to alleviate stress knowing that those important parts of your life are organised before adding work back into the mix.
Putting time aside to plan for the transition back to work will almost certainly help to make the process easier for you and your family.
Published, April 2018