How to Return to Work After Having Kids - NewBalancejobs
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How to Return to Work After Having Kids

  If you are a mom and trying to return to work after having kids or re-enter the workforce, the odds are not in your favor.  When you return to work after having a baby, you may feel a mixture of feelings. 

There is excitement to work and spend time with adults again.  But there can also be anxiety about your baby’s care and other feelings such as guilt. 

Even if the adjustment takes a while, things usually settle down.

How do stay-at-home moms get back into the workforce?

  Returning to work after childbearing isn’t as simple as arranging childcare and getting back to the office.  There are plenty of details to know what happens on your vacation and what will happen when you return.  Fortunately, there is plenty of time to pay attention to these details during pregnancy which, if you work on them, can make your return to work easier after maternity or paternity leave.

  If you are a first-time user, these tips are for you.  However, there is plenty of advice here for frequent parents who may want to take a “refresher course” on how to get back to work after having a baby.  While you might be hesitant to tell your boss that you are expecting, don’t wait for the child to arrive to speak to your boss or HR about your plans.

  Start by picking the minds of your co-workers.  Ask them what they did when they got back to work after having a baby – and what they would do differently.  Prepare for any hurdles you may encounter by asking them about their experiences with the company.

  Find out if working from home or switching to flexible hours is an option.  If not, check if you can return to part-time hours (if you can).  Any or all of these options can help ease your transition from one employee to a key employee.

How long should I wait before going back to work after giving birth?

  It’s hard to get back to work after paternity leave.  You’ve been out of the office flow for weeks or months, and you come back as a different person with new priorities and concerns.  (Not to mention the stress and pressure of endless new logistics.)  It’s annoying and often overwhelming.

  So how do you make your first few weeks in the office as smooth as possible?  If you have the option, is it better to relax slowly or jump straight in?  How should you manage your relationships with your boss and co-workers?  Perhaps most importantly, where can you go to get the emotional support and encouragement you need during this time?

How to Return to Work After Having Kids

Ask yourself if you are ready to go back to work

  The commute to work is a big adjustment for all of your family but especially for you.  Are you ready to go back to work?  You may have made a list of the pros and cons of returning to work, but now make a list of the pros and cons for yourself.  List everything from how you can change your daily routine to how you handle your work/life balance.

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Do a few practice runs

  Returning from parental leave often involves implementing a new set of complex logistics.  Try to beat them as much as possible to reduce the sting.  Start with the basics: The first day you get back to work should not be the first day your child goes to nursery or stays at home with a new nanny.  Get at least a few exercises or have a sitter start a week in advance. 

Get your child to get used to this process and get used to the caregiver.  Dry courses will also help.  Get up in the morning, take a shower, put on work clothes, feed the baby, take her to nursery, bring a Starbucks with you, and go to the office. 

Then literally turn back if you breastfeed, try adding one or two pumping sessions there as well.  Your goal is to get a realistic preview of what to expect.

Plan out the handoff

  Make a list of everything that will have to happen while you are gone.  This includes everything from one-off projects that have due dates during your vacation to the regular and recurring tasks you are responsible for.  Create shared spreadsheets or documents that indicate the schedule for each task and their corresponding due dates.  Include all relevant information or instructions on how to access the information.

  Especially when you return to work for the first time after having a baby, don’t be afraid to overdo it with instructions and information.  This is the time for excessive communication with your team, so that they fully understand what needs to happen.  By giving them all the tools they need to fill them, you increase their chances of success and reduce the chances of you being contacted with questions.

Weigh up child care costs

  You will need to weigh the costs of childcare and how much you and your partner earn.  Also consider any government assistance for which you are eligible.  The choice of childcare depends on the amount of care you need and your budget.  You may have family or friends who can help.  Or, you may have to pay for full-day childcare or a nanny.

  If you have a child in school, you will need to consider how to manage pickup and drop-offs from the school.  You can share this with other parents or family members.  Or, you can pay for pre-school care, after-school care, or both.

Advocate for Your Needs (and Your Child’s)

  This advice, of course, goes beyond parenthood and applies in all aspects of life, but it is especially important after having a baby.  It’s simple: ask what you need and don’t assume people know what it is.  You will be amazed at how much people will offer you if you ask.

  Do you need to transfer a meeting so you can schedule a meeting time at nursery?  Offer an alternative solution in your question, but ask nonetheless.  Are you unavailable for customer events after an hour?  Invite a colleague to replace you, or suggest other creative ways to stand up for clients that fit your schedule.  Who knows, there could be other working parents who would appreciate your ingenuity.

Schedule the time to pump

  If you need to pump breast milk at work, pick a time on your calendar to do so, and add 10-15 minutes of buffer to ensure you stick to your schedule. 

By bringing it into your day and making it truly non-negotiable (remember those boundaries we talked about earlier?), you can help prevent it from becoming a point of tension.  (It’s not just about emotional distress: Skipping a pumping session can become physically painful, and you could end up wearing the consequences under your shirt.)

  If possible, get a second pump to leave work to reduce gear pulling back and forth, and make sure you have a comfortable space to pump in your office. 

If the person is not visible at your workplace, explicitly ask Human Resources or the office manager about the “nursing room.”