Deciding when to leave your child and resume some sense of the life you had before they came along can be very emotional and often stressful. You might realise that time away from your baby isn’t an option for you, and you might choose to stay at home full time. Or, you might be struggling on whether or not you should go back to full-time or part-time work. Choosing between the two isn’t always easy.
On the outset, you have to remind yourself that your life has changed and that your work habits will change and that it might be tricky to figure it out, at least in the beginning.
Talk to your employer
Firstly you’ll need to talk to your employer about what your options are. Are they willing to let you return part-time? What is their part-time offering and what does it involve exactly? You need to know exactly what is expected of you, from workload to office hours and flexibility.
What care options are available?
Before you make a decision on which type of work you want to return to, you then have to think about your baby and who will care for them when you are at work. What care options do you have available to you? You’ll need to think about budgets, location and flexibility. Can you afford to go back to work full time with the cost of childcare? [Link to finding a daycare article]
Enrolling your baby into daycare or organising a nanny or carer before you go back to work is critical. Remember that being away from you is a big change for your baby, as it is for you. So wherever possible, make sure your baby’s first day away from you is not your first day back at work. You will probably both be upset and a little stressed so you don’t want to have to rush to the office on that day if you can help it. Give your baby time to adjust to being away from you and getting used to a new carer.
Weigh up your options
While returning to full-time work might seem like the easiest option as it forces you to go immediately back into it, it might not be the best option. Whereas working part-time might help gives you more of a balanced transition, and allow you to mentally process the new changes. Some workplaces will allow you to return part-time and then build back up to full-time when you are ready.
Full-time work can be beneficial as it allows you to gain back some sense of self and independence that can get lost in those early months of being a parent. While the salary is significantly better than part-time, it’s important to remember that it also comes with more responsibilities, costs to cover daycare or a nanny as well as time away from the home which can be difficult.
Ask for advice
Communication is critical in these decisions. Talk to your partner or friends who’ve done it before you for their advice, and find out what worked and didn’t work for them. This will help you make an informed decision and weigh up all the pros and cons.
Communicating with your boss is also vital to ensure you will be understood and that they will provide you with the support you need. Being straightforward in your expectations and your desired schedule is important to relay.
Leaving your baby and going back to your ‘old’ life can be confusing, draining and stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Don’t forget that it’s an exciting time, your baby is growing up, developing and you’re finally able to be a person separate from being mum or dad. And remember, coming home to your baby after a long day at work and their happiness at seeing you will make it worthwhile.