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Home / Opinion / Back to Work

Back to Work

Returning to work after spending the last three years looking after two small children was both terrifying and exciting in equal measure. Not everything went as smoothly as I had anticipated.

Here are some of my suggestions for navigating this challenging yet exhilarating transition from home to workplace.

Organise Childcare
Decide well ahead of your return to work, whether you are going to opt for a crèche, childminder, au pair or nanny. Créches can have long waiting lists so get your child’s name down as quickly as possible, up to a year in advance in some popular areas. As I have two children, we decided to combine the crèche and the childminder options. As my eldest child was entitled to his free preschool year we decided that he would stay in crèche until 12.45 every day. The childminder would subsequently collect him and look after both the 15 month old and my pre-schooler until my arrival home in the afternoon.

Plan Meals
There is nothing worse than returning home after a long day at work and facing into cooking an assortment of dinners to suit everyone’s taste, much of which will inevitably end up in the bin. A few ways I have managed to mitigate the daily dinner dilemma is by investing in a slow cooker. Just throw everything into it first thing in the morning and voila a fully cooked dinner as you walk in the door that evening. Another idea is to spend a couple of hours a week batch cooking and freezing. All the dinners can be prepared for the week ahead and can be thrown into the oven on demand.

Rest, Rest and More Rest
The first few months after returning to work can be exhausting. Adjusting to new routines for both the parents and children can be challenging. Sleep deprivation will exacerbate this further. Aiming for early bedtimes for everyone is essential for the first few weeks/months. In addition, on days off try to take it as easy as possible. Limit the scheduled activities. Children need down time too so embrace the pjammas, movies and couch time on your days off.

The house will possibly be a tip for a while until everyone finds their feet with the new routines and adjustments. Drawing up a list of exactly what chores need to be done and when they need to be done can help organise the household workload. Delegate as much as possible and get the kids involved too. Employing a cleaner for even just two or three hours every couple of weeks can help reduce some of the pressure for getting the ‘big jobs’ completed.

Other Options?
It is possible that your return to work will not be as enjoyable as you first envisaged. Hopefully this will not be the case. Nonetheless, juggling a new job with a husband, children and college is not easy. However there are a number of options that could be considered to alleviate the overwhelming nature of ‘having/doing it all’. Every parent is entitled to 18 weeks of parental leave per child. Utilising this leave may be an option. If the work situation still needs to be reevaluated further, job sharing, working from home or a career break may provide a temporary reprieve before any permanent decisions are made.

Article by Jane O’ Halloran
Photography by: Dakota Corbin

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