As maternity/paternity leave is coming to an end, it can seem like you’ll never be able to balance work and a baby all at once. The good news is even though it is difficult at times, you’re never alone! Every working parent deals with it in some capacity, and there are tons of resources available to help you through it.
For the best success, we’ve compiled a list of top tips, strategies, and resources to turn to. It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed, stressed, sad, or even guilty about going back to work, but we’re here to minimise that as much as possible.
To begin with, pre-planning before any issues arise will be the biggest help in managing all this. Talk to those in your support system before you go back to work. Friends, family, your partner, neighbours, etc will be your lifesavers! If you have the money for it, a nanny will save you from a huge amount of stress. Day care centers are great too, but do your research before committing to one. If you go those routes, make sure to establish a positive, communicative relationship with the caregiver. That way you can still be involved in the process even if you can’t be there physically.
Communicate with your partner
If you have a partner to share the responsibilities with, it’s a great idea to sit down and talk extensively about this. Discuss your respective calendars and capacity, what specific support you’ll need from each other, what the plan will be if one of you gets sick, etc. Make sure you’re both on the same page before either of you goes back to work. Open communication is the key here!
If you don’t have a babysitter, it would be a good idea to look for two now. Yes, two! That way, if one falls through for whatever reason, the other babysitter will be able to fill in. If that’s not possible, look for parents in your community and offer to babysit in an emergency if they do the same for you. You never want to be caught off guard without a backup plan.
Preparation is key
Another essential strategy is doing prep work each morning and night so you aren’t stressing as much the next day. Pack snacks and lunches, lay out clothes for the day, and use a breast pump if needed. You probably won’t be able to stop working to breastfeed every few hours, so a breast pump can be a gigantic help. Additionally, establishing a firm routine every morning and night will help you and your baby sleep much better.
Speak with your employer
Next, ask your work about their policies on flexible scheduling, sick days, and leave policies. If they offer work from home, check out how often that’s possible because it can be a game changer when feeding a new baby. Ask if returning to maternity/paternity leave is an option if it becomes clear you weren’t ready to come back to work after all. Ask every possible question you can think of, so both you and your employer are clear on the rules and expectations. This will help immensely with planning and staying prepared for what-if scenarios.
Next, learn your boundaries and know when to say no. Oftentimes when we’re asked to do something, especially in a work environment, it can be hard for some people to set boundaries. That’s not an option when you have a baby relying on you! Don’t be shy in asking other people to help you out whenever you need it instead of taking on every single responsibility alone.
For more resources, check out local parenting groups, one-on-one talk therapy, couple’s therapy, and parenting hotlines. Nobody ever said parenting was easy, and it’s totally normal to need professional help. In fact, getting professional help when you need it is the most responsible thing you can do for yourself and your child. Venting to a therapist, relating to parents in the same situation, or talking out relationship issues with the help of a therapist will be life-changing. When you’re trying to balance work and feeding, oftentimes your relationship with your partner may take a hit because you’re both stressed out and tired. If it’s feeling like too much, don’t hesitate to talk to a professional.