For most mothers and fathers, parenting is the most rewarding and important aspect of their lives. Because many parents must also work, striking a balance between a career and home life can be a bit tricky for a new parent. Below are a few ideas to help guide new parents through the transition from bottles and bibs to co-workers and computers.
Plan your work schedule with your company before your child is born.
New parents have approximately nine months to plan for the arrival of their child. Take this opportunity to arrange your post-baby work schedule with your boss or Human Resources director.
- Inquire about specific company policies regarding employees having a baby. Ask if maternity and paternity leave, or paid vacation days, are available.
- If paid leave is not offered, ask your supervisor about scheduling flexible work hours so that you can coordinate convenient hours to stay at home with your newborn.
The more notice that you’re able to provide, the better your chances are to secure a schedule that allows for balance.
Prepare yourself in advance for your return to work.
In the few days leading up to your return to work, spend some time reflecting on the transition.
- Acknowledge that the transition will be an adjustment, and know that you are not alone. Many parents jointly address the tricky task of managing work and home.
- More than likely, many people with whom you’re close also have dealt with returning to work after having a child. When preparing to go back to work, ask your close friends and family for support and guidance.
- Several days before returning to work, focus on addressing household tasks such as laundry and grocery shopping. Choose your outfit the night before, and decide what you’ll pack for lunch. An organized approach will make it simple to get up and out of the door on your first morning back.
Engage fellow parents.
When looking for support, turn to fellow parents for advice. By sharing experiences, you’ll more than likely find encouragement and a few new good ideas or resources.
- Many hospitals and birth centers have new parent groups. Take advantage of these groups to discuss experiences with your newborn baby.
- Browse online parenting blogs or chat groups by subject and even by region, to join the conversation about schools, sales and sitters in your area.
- Other parents can be wonderful resources when looking for childcare options. Ask about recommended daycare and carpooling options.
Schedules are important.
No matter their age, children thrive on a schedule.
- Plan your child’s day – waking up, eating meals, playing, baths, and bedtime – so that both of you know what to expect.
- If you are a new parent and are returning to work, try to get your newborn on a schedule a full week beforehand. You will be amazed at how quickly he or she will pick up your daily cues.
- If you are able, do a dry-run on a morning leading up to your first day back at work. Get yourself and your child up at the appropriate time, get both of you ready, and time how long that it takes to drive to the daycare facility or babysitter’s and then to work. A dry-run will help ensure that you plan enough time to accomplish everything at home in the morning.
Cook dinner in advance.
After a busy day, it’s incredibly helpful to come home and not wonder what’s for dinner.
- Cook several freezer meals during the weekend, to use for your weekly dinners. Simply place the frozen meal in the refrigerator before you leave for work so that all you’ll have to do when you get home is pop it into the oven and enjoy some quality time with your family.
- Slow cookers are an excellent investment for a busy family. Put together an all-in-one meal, and turn the slow cooker on before you leave for work. When you arrive home later, your dinner will be ready and waiting.
Schedule time for yourself.
Taking time for you is probably one of the most difficult tasks to manage as a new parent.
- Thirty minutes a day to focus on yourself is important. Go on a walk or meditate. If you can’t spare a full 30 minutes at one time, try to find smaller amounts of time continuously throughout the day.
- If you have a lunch break, spend part of it eating and part of it doing something you enjoy such as listening to your favorite radio station or reading a book.
- On your way to pick up your child, find time each week to refresh – such as with a cup of coffee from your favorite café or with a touch-up at the bathroom mirror.
- If your child is school-age, occasionally take advantage of aftercare programs. Many schools have affordable after-school programs that help children with homework and offer extra recess time.
Returning to work after having a child can be manageable if parents prepare in advance and remember to focus on themselves as much as they focus on their families. For more helpful tips about work-life balance, click here.