Women’s Post Contributor Liesl Jurock is a writer, a career educator, and a mama.
Many moms are surprised by what they find when they return to work. Although your life has completely changed while you’ve been away, your workplace may seem much the same as when you left. What stressed you out before is now not as important and the work itself may seem easier after being responsible for a new human being. Despite this, it can be quite a stressful time getting back into the swing of things. Here are some tips on readjusting back to office life:
Re-introduce yourself. Unless they are also parents, your colleagues probably don’t expect that you’ve changed much and your boss may be unsympathetic to your new priorities. Make time to reconnect with the people you work closest with and rebuild those relationships. Give them a sense of the new you, but also refrain from only talking about your kid. You may prefer to put blinders on and get straight to work, but making time for those around you will garner you support when you need it.
Be sensitive to time. Remember that woman who used to annoy everyone because she booted out of the office at 5:00 on the dot to pick up her kid from daycare? This is now you. The need to control your time becomes critical now that you are juggling work with parenting. While you may want to set new boundaries, you don’t want to alienate yourself either. Find ways to strategically display your commitment: send e-mails when you are the first one in the office or working over your lunch time, offer to do research for the team that you can tackle after your kid is in bed, or do extra prep for meetings that will save time for everyone.
Find allies. Seek out the other working parents around you. You can recognize them by the bags under their eyes and the encouraging smile they now give you when you arrive frazzled and milk-stained. They can be great support and offer advice about surviving this readjustment period, may know about policies that impact parents in your workplace, and might actually enjoy hearing about your child.
Be present where you are. Of course you are thinking of your little one while you’re at work, but if it’s a guilty pull that distracts you from getting anything done, then what’s the point of being there? If at all possible, try and compartmentalize your focus so that you are present where you are. Work at work, and mommy at home, and try not to waste your valuable energy reserves feeling guilty about the other.
There’s no question that heading back to work is full of mixed emotions as you negotiate how to make things work best for your baby and your family. But in the craziness of it all, don’t forget about yourself as well. The old adage is true: You can’t take care of anyone if you don’t take care of yourself. Find a few minutes a day or a couple of hours here and there that are just yours so you can recharge before the juggling act begins again.