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  Many working parents have a tough time achieving balance between work and family commitments which can often lead to frustration and exhaustion.

How do you resolve this?
Being a mum is not an ailment, something we should be ashamed or feel second class about – quite frankly working parents are amazing.  You and others will marvel at your ability to juggle getting the kids ready in the morning, have time to walk the dog, drop your husband to the train station, take dinner out of the freezer, then arrive at work by 8.30am prepared for meeting!  But they won’t marvel if you don’t tell them...all too often women accomplish all of these things quietly and without complaint never sharing the load or even venting their reality.
It’s important to create boundaries and communicate clear expectations of what you can and can’t do; what you will need help with and what flexibility you can give and will need in return. 

Here are some ideas that can help you achieve an improved balance between work and family.

 
  What to expect when you return to work  
  There will be difficulties for you and your family adjusting to the changes in your lives. To make the adjustment easier, particularly in the first weeks or month, talk to your employer and agree ways you can ease yourself in so you can manage any unexpected difficulties..  
 
  If you can, negotiate a gradual return to work. For example, if you are planning to return 3 days per week, start back one day for the first week, then two days for the second week, gradually working your way up to 3 days per week in the first 1-3 months back.
  Introduce your child(ren) to any new carer arrangements before you return to work. It will feel less traumatic for you and your child than trying to start childcare and work all in the same week.
  Make your mum-status known. It’s important to be upfront with your manager and team that you’re a working parent and explain your potential work limitations and how you are prepared to be flexible in return. Explain the realities of your situation with your colleagues so they understand your circumstances and can support you to transition back to work.
 
  Some normal realities other mums face when first returning to work include:  
 
  The family routine can be out of sync while you settle into work. Create a family weekly to do list and schedule and do the same at work.
  You may not be able to attend every meeting and work event, that’s life. Get a colleague or your manager to bring you up to speed later or consider dialing in via telephone from home if appropriate.
  You may miss appointments or not always be on time. Juggling kids drop off can be time consuming; don’t beat yourself up if you arrive late on occasion.
  Your child(ren) may be upset when you leave or return.
  Your child(ren) will get sick sometimes and you will need to make alternative arrangements or take time from work.
  It’s normal to feel ‘stressed out’ and at times. You are only human. Treat yourselves kindly those first few weeks.
 
  Tips for organising yourself at work and at home  
 
 
Make a daily "to-do" list and prioritise the tasks
Break large tasks into smaller parts and action these one at a time based on the priority
Periodically review your work and ask yourself, "is this the best use of my time?" “what can I do to save myself time yet achieve the same outcome”?
When feeling stretched, ask yourself, "would anything terrible happen if I didn't do this today?" If the answer is "no," then re-prioritise during busy periods.
Ask for support when you need it and seek feedback on how you and your manager/team can work together better to support one another.
Plan quiet time during the day when you can put your head down and focus on getting your work done – this is particularly important if you have a busy work schedule with many interruptions!
Don’t try to pack too much into one day. Have realistic expectations of what you can achieve.
 
At the end of the day, review your ‘to do’ list and re-prioritise your work for the next day.
Delegate!
Because circumstances change don’t be afraid to re-negotiate expectations and flexible arrangements with your employer as required.
Plan, shop and prepare meals in advance when possible making it easier to attend to when you get home. Consider shopping online to save time.
Keep a family calendar to schedule holidays, events, appointments and other important times so you can plan work and other family commitments around these dates.
Establish a family routine and share the household chores. Eg: if you do childcare drop off one day, your partner does the following day.
Get help when you need it for the chores you can’t find time for. Eliminate unnecessary chores.
 
Make time to relax. Reward yourself with the things that you enjoy doing in your personal time it might include walking the dog once a week, going to yoga, seeing a movie with a friend at least for 1 hour a week.
Don’t do too much and run yourself ragged, lean on your partner and family to help you when things get really hectic.
Look for ways to manage your working week more simply, eg: allocate a day a week that you have a takeaway dinner, change the sheets or do the shopping.
Prepare yourself and the children the night before for the day ahead eg: packing lunch, preparing clothes to wear etc.
Plan nice things to do with your family on days off work, it is something to look forward to for both you and your children.
Find time to exercise. Even a 20 min walk twice a week can work wonders which can be done to and from work, during lunch or with the family when you get home.
 
 
  Time Management Tips for Busy Mums
  Common Work Life Balance Mistakes and Solutions
 
  What if it is not working out and what can I do about it?  
  Be realistic about this. It is best to try and adjust arrangements as problems arise, rather than wait until a crisis occurs. Sit down and see if you can work out why the new situation is not going well. What part of the arrangement is causing the problem?  
 
  Are you too exhausted?
  Is your child distressed - not adjusting or settling into the change?
  Is there not enough time to get from A to B?
  Is the job too demanding?
If your child(ren) is not adjusting you will want to find ways to resolve this by discussing options with your child(ren)’s carer and your employer:
  What flexible work options might be beneficial and available?
  Can you change or reduce the expectations of you on the job, at least for a few weeks?
  Can you talk to the carer about changes you would like them to make in caring for your child?
  Can you find another carer?
 

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