Last year, I had the incredible opportunity of staying home with my three children. This is a big deal because I have worked my entire adult life, and I continued to work after my kids were born. Early in 2016, we decided to move to Texas and completely start our lives over. I left my stable NYC job and we set out to build a new life in Waco. The transition was long, but through the process, I loved being able to temporarily experience life as a stay at home Mom. I savored every single precious moment with my babies. I must admit, sometimes being home with the kids is surprisingly harder than being at the office!
Now, one year later, I have finally re-entered the workforce. The transition back into the working world is not without challenges. I was incredibly focused on making sure it was a smooth process so my kids wouldn’t stress. Here are some tricks and strategic planning that will help soften the blow!
Set a Schedule and Practice
The biggest change your family will undergo when you start working again is the disruption in your current daily routine. Someone else will be taking care of them, either in your home or at a daycare facility. Either way, you will need to make small scheduling adjustments. Do as much advanced planning as possible and build a schedule that works for your family! In our case, we had to set our alarm clocks a little earlier in an effort to be ready for the morning. Gone are the days of staying in my PJ’s and making a slow, leisurely breakfast while checking emails (and Instagram.) The morning moves quickly and to stay ahead, we set out clothes and make lunches the night before. We also had to adjust our dinner time and nap schedules a little later.
Prior to starting your job, practicing your new schedule is vital. We practiced our new routine for a full week. It made the transition much easier because I was home to manage it and slowly implement each new change. On my first day at the new job, I was completely confident that our schedule worked and I had incredible peace of mind knowing that our kids were taken care of!
Read, Read and Read some more!
I have discovered that one of the more difficult parts of being back at work after such a long hiatus has been turning my “work brain” back on. It is hard to carry a decent adult conversation when you live in the land of dirty diapers, making lunches, cleaning messes and singing nursery songs all day. I recommend digging up as much material as you can find that is relevant to your new job. Do some research, check the news and make sure you are up to date on industry news. Simply picking up a magazine, newspaper or a relevant business book can help jog your memory and give you some significant sound bites.
Plan your Wardrobe
There is a minimalist trend right now regarding clothing that is pointed at changing the time-consuming nature of picking out your work clothes. Mark Zuckerburg, CEO of Facebook, is famous for wearing the same gray t-shirt every day. He states it reduces the number of decisions he makes on a daily basis so that he can focus on the community. Matilda Kahl wears the same white shirt and black pants to work every single day. While I love having a simple wardrobe, I’m not that simple! Most of what I own are solid color pieces and business casual tops that I generally liked to pair with black pants. I knew this wouldn’t work for my new job, so I had to improvise. I spent time thinking about the weather, the environment I would be in, the local style combined my personal preference and comfort level. Then I pieced together several outfits in advance and put them in a special section in my closet. Now I can wake up, put on an outfit that I have already vetted, and bolt out the door without a wardrobe fuss. I highly recommend making a decision about what to wear in advance. It will save a lot of time and eliminate the last minute “hurry up and change” problem.
This is the hardest one for me. I need at least 7 hours of sleep to feel human, and I had to realize that every night, something wasn’t going to be complete. I hate going to bed with items on my “to do” list. If I wanted to get enough sleep, I discovered quickly that it meant my floors wouldn’t get swept or I’d still have laundry to fold sitting in a basket. It is important to find the little things that you can let go. Prioritize what tasks can wait until the next day, or delegate and get someone to help you. Decide the exact time you need to lay your head on the pillow and be diligent about protecting that time! You must get sleep, so give yourself that one tiny little win for the day. Things may not get done perfectly, but you will be healthier, well rested and have more energy to tackle it the next day.
Lastly, be patient with yourself and with your family. Going back to work isn’t easy. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Give yourself a little grace and time to go through any bumps in the road. It won’t be perfect, but the more prepared you are and the more patience you have with yourself, the easier it will be!