When I was preparing to give birth to my son in 2016, my husband and I agreed that the best plan for our family was for me to return to work part-time after my 12-week maternity leave while our son entered a traditional daycare setting. However, after he was born, I could not bear the thought of someone else looking after our tiny, helpless baby while I left him every day. My husband worried how staying home full-time would affect me (it’s not for the faint of heart!), and we were both concerned with how it would financially affect our long-term goals. Ultimately, I knew I had to make it work because leaving him with someone else was just not something I could handle at the time.
As time pressed on, we had another baby and slowly but surely fell into a groove as a family of four. However, I started to feel like something was missing. I felt guilty for wanting to leave my kids with someone else, but I knew I needed to do something to stimulate myself intellectually. So, I started exploring my options and found a fantastic opportunity that I could not pass up, and I learned a lot in the process. Here are some tips to consider when transitioning back to work after taking a hiatus:
- Build your village – We are not so fortunate as to live in the same town as our parents, siblings, or extended family members, so building a village to help with the kids as needed was a bit daunting. But, with the help of websites like Care.com and the Bambino app, we found a few sitters who were willing to help out at different times. We tested each sitter a few times with quick dinners out and soon had a small group we knew we could trust who have been instrumental in making our new schedule work.
- Be honest with your new employer – During the interview process, I made my family situation clear so as not to over-promise myself to my new employer. This allowed them to see if I could be a good fit for what they needed but also gave me a chance to see if the company culture was conducive to balancing my family’s needs. After coming from more conservative companies in my past, I was thrilled to learn there are great options for people looking to balance work and family life!
- Meal prep– I had gotten into the routine of planning meals and grocery shopping for my family as needed since I was home throughout the day. Making this drastic change would have been challenging if we didn’t meal prep every Sunday. My husband and I put our heads together to come up with lunches to take throughout the week and a few dinner ideas for which we’d purchase groceries. In the stress of starting a new job and the hustle and bustle of a new schedule, it has been nice to have one less thing to worry about on weeknights.
- Give yourself grace – as with anything; moms so often put so much pressure on themselves to make sure everything is “perfect” – impeccably-styled kids, balanced meals, no screen time, the list goes on and on. I quickly learned I would have to celebrate the small victories rather than dwelling on things that did not go exactly as planned. It’s ok to look the other way when you forget to send your son to school in pajamas for pajama day and be thrilled that you survived a week of work, doctor’s appointments, and preschool.
Transitioning back to work after a few years can be challenging at times, but I’ve found it’s worth it when you’re ready to make the leap.