A massive culture change is taking place in the working world. After extended periods of pandemic-induced, working from home, the majority of the country is making the move to go back to work. For parents finishing up maternity/paternity leave or those who have been away from work as the primary caregiver for an extended period of time, this is having a slow but positive effect. Employers are being forced to think in a different way as roles change. The question of who stays home with bubba is no longer clear cut by gender. Job flexibility, an earnings difference or willingness are huge factors. Whatever the circumstances, going back to work is going to take adjustment.
Take some time to assess where you are and consider what skills you have learnt since becoming a parent. It may not seem immediately apparent to you but your skills are enormously transferable. Are you a better multitasker now? Have your problem solving abilities improved? Are you more intuitive to others’ needs? Slowly beginning to get back in contact with your working world will make for an easier transition. Consider asking a colleague to go for lunch or coffee before your return date. Ask your boss for a video call. It could be beneficial to see a familiar face before strolling back in and will help you feel a little less out-of-the-loop. Things will have changed in your absence. Be prepared for that.
Overall returning to work can be a bittersweet pill and it will help if you acknowledge the bizarre mix of emotions you may be feeling, often featuring delightful varieties of guilt. There can be the guilt of leaving your child with another, guilt at being happy to be returning to work, guilt at actually being happy you were able to take that time off work when others didn’t get the opportunity. Acknowledge it. Now ditch it. It’s unhelpful.
Where possible, try out new childcare options, before you actually start back. Most bubbas don’t like change, so maybe test out new options when you are still around to alter them where necessary. Having a back up plan is never a bad thing. Are there other parents in your workplace that appear to be making it work? We highly encourage asking other parents for advice and support, especially emotional.
This is a tough one but consider whether your current career is right for you. Sadly not all jobs are parent-friendly right now. Flexibility may begin to seem more important than the car allowance or the international business trips. Take the time to research what you are entitled to regarding pay, leave and flexibility once you return. Don’t assume or be scared to ask for what you are entitled to. All employees have the legal right to request flexible working. Current legislation requires that employers must deal with requests in a “reasonable manner.” Don’t be ashamed to say you’re a parent. Trying to balance your job and your family doesn’t make you a bad employee.
Factor in that bubbas get sick… often. Babies and children that have been home in their bubble since the pandemic are much less exposed to viruses, so when they do start attending nursery or school again, they are going to get sick frequently. After returning to work, ensuring you have quality time with your bubba is highly advisable. You’re going to be tired and you don’t want that to be all they see. So when you do get time off, try and let them see the best you and let them have you entirely to themselves. Story time, a walk or collecting leaves in the park doesn’t take very much time at all.
We will always be the biggest advocates of self-care, whatever that means to you. A half hour video call to a friend, a coffee, a glass of wine, a yoga class to yourself, an episode of Motherland on Netflix or a face mask will save your sanity. Taking care of yourself is the greatest benefit to bubba and will ensure you are your best self for your family.