I was stay at home mom for a few years until recently returning to work full time. The transition was a bit of an adjustment to say the least – and nothing had prepared me for the sheer exhaustion when I first went back! Things have definitely been getting easier as the weeks (and now months) go by. And my husband, three sons and I have found our own rhythm amidst the challenge of finding work-life balance... I can finally say that we are starting to get into a comfortable routine!
In the context of working and parenting, Angelina Jolie was once quoted as saying "I think if you love what you do, and the choice you've made in your life, somehow that drives you forward to enjoy it all. Even the chaos, even the exhaustion of it, and even when it seems out of balance."
Here are the five most important things I've learned in the process of transitioning back to work and as a parent working out of the home.
1. Meal prep, always!
The more you can meal prep the more you will save time and avoid scrambling for last minute ideas on what to have for dinner. At our house we have a loose meal prep plan (and try to limit grocery shopping to once a week) -- I plan 4 nights out of the 7 which allows me to have the flexibility of doing something different if there is an unplanned event one evening or we are doing a lot of running around from activity to activity.
This post has some great ideas for prepping meals. This post has a list of some good kitchen staples for your pantry.
2. Balance organization with down time, every day, morning to night
Making sure my life is in order is key for helping keep my head on straight while multitasking each day. I've learned the hard way how important unwinding is for your mental and physical health! I try to do one thing a day for myself (even if it's only for 15-30 minutes) and try to keep flexible work hours to help with maintaining balance. I also make a conscious effort to avoid sweating the small stuff. This post is helpful for letting go of the things that aren't important.
3. Lean on your support network
It takes a village to help raise children and I could not do it without the support of my friends and family. My family often helps out when I need childcare during the day while I'm at work or out for date nights with my husband, but if they're not available I arrange for alternate childcare. Cultivating friendships are also a priority for me and have at least one girl's weekend away each year with my best friends.
4. Embrace your strengths, weaknesses and insecurities
There is so much to think about when you are going back to work, not to mention all the little things that keep you up at night… like to do lists and worrying whether you've lost your edge being out of the workforce caring for your children (or that you're not as sharp anymore because of mommy brain) and what to wear now that you're body has changed after having kids. Accept yourself for who you are -- and remember that you are doing your best and that perfection isn't an option!
Check out this post for helpful tips to manage mommy brain. See this post for post partum shapewear and stay tuned for upcoming posts to help freshen and mix up your wardrobe with old and new clothes.
5. Let go of mommy guilt
This may be the most difficult part about going back to work. (This post is helpful for dealing with mommy guilt). It’s not easy to be a working parent but life doesn't have to be so complicated either. No matter what your reason for returning back to work is, and despite the craziness of it all, everything seems to all work out in the end because you're doing what's best for you and your family.
Refer to our Parent's Guide to Childcare.