After having a baby, one usually stays at home for a year or so to take care of their new baby. Some describe this as a very difficult year full of adjustments and lack of sleep. Now, over a year after having my son, I look back at that year and think that yes it was a hard year, but this year is much harder. I decided when Max was eight months old to go back to work. Raising a baby and holding down a professional job has resulted in days whizzing by and a multitude of little tasks that pile up and never seem to get done. If you make the choice to go back to work: not only are you expected to maintain a full-time job – you still have to take care of your little one, keep up with the housework, and at some point: take care of yourself (I’m not talking “going to the spa”, but basic things like getting a haircut!). It is very easy to become overwhelmed.
It did take some time to get used to the new routine, but I believe that I’ve become accustomed to my new dual role of Mom and career person. Some aspects of my life had to change and I had to become more efficient with my time (meaning (for me): do not be lazy). I still struggle though. There are days when I look back at my job pre-baby and think to myself “wow did I ever waste my time!”. I’ve complied a list of ways to figure out your work-life-family balance if you do choose to go back to work
- Alter your work schedule
If you can – go part-time, telecommute or work a condensed work schedule. I went back part-time to work and it worked for me (both balance-wise and financially). Now that Max is a bit older, I am going back to full-time work 6 months after returning to work. This has allowed me to get as much work done as I can during “work hours”, so that when I pick up Max from daycare, I am all his for the evening. It has also reduced my workload which in turn reduces my stress levels.
2. Create an online calendar that you can share
One of the biggest adjustments that I had to make was the idea that I could remember everything. I used to be able to remember my schedule without writing things done – now, not a chance. For my day-planner, I use two: an ‘old-school’ pen and paper agenda and my iCalendar. The great thing about my iCalendar (and Google Calendar as well) is that I can share my calendar with my husband. We are able to compare schedules and basically keep track of what is happening.
3. Set aside some ‘me-time’
This could be anything from going to Starbucks once a week to have a latte and read a book, to going to a yoga class, to going for a run/walk. Although I felt the need to run and pick up Max as soon as the work day was over – I ended up deciding to pick him up a bit later every other day so that I could have an hour at the gym. After working out for a bit, I feel re-energized and ready to conquer the evening!
4.Get your sleep!
Make sure to get a solid nights sleep – not just once a week, but every day. If you have trouble going to bed, set a routine for yourself. Personally, I like to turn off all my devices at 10pm, read a book and relax.
5. Say No
Although it may be tempting to take up new work opportunities, sign the kids up for another activity or take up someone on a dinner invitation – sometimes ones schedule becomes a bit too packed and stress may appear. Know your limits.
It can be a struggle to try and balance it all. Some days are better than others. But in the end, the important thing is to keep calm, do your best and try and be the best parent you can be!