By Kelly Hodgson
Rejoice in the fact that you may get a hot cup of coffee (and drink the whole thing while it is still hot), a chance to dig out some heels and a dry clean only shirt and the opportunity to have lunch dates with friends and co-workers. Oh, and a pay cheque again too! That's the good about going back to work, but we know there's a bad and an ugly side to the transition too. But you'll get through it and your family will find their groove. Here's a few things you can do to make things a bit smoother as you adjust to the new normal.
1. Stock Your Freezer
If you like to cook, take a few days or a weekend and make double batches of dinner recipes, side dishes and baked goods for busy days and mornings. An a freezer stock up is not just for dinner – you can prep pancakes/waffles, muffins, smoothie mixes, cut up potatoes, soups, etc that will get you through breakfasts and lunches too. Plan to do this once a month and it will really help manage the task of getting meals on the table.
If cooking and prep is not your thing, check out places like SupperWorks where you can make 6-9 meals ready for the freezer in about an hour. Its life changing, trust me! And if grocery shopping seems like a time sucker to you, check out Grocery Gateway. The $10 delivery fee seems like nothing if it buys you 90 extra minutes of weekend family time.
2. Manage The Dinner Time Rush
Flying in the door after daycare pickup can be hard depending on what time you manage to arrive home. It's 5:30pm and you've got 90 minutes to get dinner made, the baby fed, bathed and in bed. And a little down time would be nice too, right? A slow cooker can be your best friend – here are some of momstown's tried and true slow cooker recipes for you.
Another great tip is to make dinner the night before for the following night. For awhile, my routine was dinner, put the kids to bed, my husband would do the dishes and clean the kitchen and then I would set to making dinner for the following night. Cooking that lasagna and having to just heat it up at 5:45pm the next day is much easier than waiting 60 minutes for it to cook!
Many mamas feed their little ones and get them down to bed and then have dinner with their spouse later on in the evening. Whatever works for you is what you should do. And remember that breakfast for dinner, grilled cheese or pita and veggies with hummus is a totally acceptable dinner even if there are only adults at the table!
3. Don't Make Big Routine Changes In Your Baby's Life
Well anymore than what you are already having to do (child care). If you are going to wean out a few feeds if you are breastfeeding, don't do it cold turkey the day or so before returning to work. Not just because you may end up in serious pain, but weaning can take a toll on your hormones and chances are you are going to be feeling a bit weepy about leaving your baby as it is.
Don't try and get rid of the soother or take the bottle away, etc. No one needs more changes, all that stuff can wait and to be honest, child care providers are pretty amazing at changing routines for the better if you want them to.
4. The Night Before Will Be Your Best Friend
So making dinner the night before was already mentioned, but you can add packing lunches, daycare bags, laying out clothes and showering to that list. Do as much as you can so that the morning rush isn't so rushed. I know it sounds like a lot, but you'll find a pattern that works for you.
5. Ask For Help
Sometimes moms wear the multitasking badge like a badge of honour, but it really isn't. Engage the other parent to take on more responsibilities now that you are heading back to work. Many mamas find success with having the other parent do the child care drop off or take over the cooking, grocery shopping and/or the cleaning. And hey, if you can find a great cleaning lady, that works too. If you are feeling overwhelmed with household management, take a page from this mama who decided it was just time to let some chores go and how she did it.
6. Feel The Emotions
It's okay to feel sad about going back to work. It's okay to feel happy about going back to work. It's okay to feel one thing on one day and feel completely different the next. Feel the emotions, and then move on.
We're lucky that woman have so many choices when it comes to our careers. Lean In, Opt Out, Work Part Time, Work From Home, Take A Leave Of Absence – we've heard and seen them all and have been inspired by so many women who chose to blaze their own career path. Know that there are lots of options out there so don't feel stuck in your job/career if its not working for you (whether that's due to family reasons on not).