The other day I was having lunch with my friend Vanessa who recently rejoined the workforce after staying home to raise her kids for the last two and a half years. She actually wasn’t planning on working again until the kids were old enough to enter kindergarten, but not everything went according to their plan.
When Vanessa’s husband was downsized and unable to find a job that paid anywhere near what he had been earning, they realized they could no longer afford to be a single-income family. With great trepidation Vanessa came back to the job she thought she had left behind forever.
As we enjoyed our cafeteria burgers we talked about some of the challenges she was facing and how she hoped to get around them.
Let Go of Guilt
It’s easy to let yourself become preoccupied with all the things you are missing by not being at home with your child. No mom wants to miss their little one’s first steps or hear her call the babysitter “Mommy” instead of you.
But instead of dwelling on all the things you might miss, focus on how much going back to work will benefit your family. Maybe you’ll be able to afford to give your child better educational opportunities or a chance to participate in travel sports, or an amazing family vacation to Disney World. Or maybe your salary will enable your husband to work less hours and spend more time with the little ones himself.
Block Out Time for the Kids
After a long day of work and commuting you’ll probably be tired and want to unwind a little bit. It’s ok to take a little time for yourself so you can recharge a bit, but don’t waste time with silly tasks like checking email and watching TV. Save that stuff for later in the evening when the kids are asleep. Your email will still be waiting for you and your favorite shows can always be recorded and watched later.
Try to avoid multitasking when spending time with your kids. They deserve your full attention and it’s not hard to give them an hour or two per day of undistracted time. Help them with their homework, read with them, or play a family board game.
Make Time for Your Partner
You’ve already blocked out time for the kids, but don’t forget to save some quality time for your significant other. Your relationship with your spouse is incredibly important and if you neglect it the entire family will suffer.
Spending quality time with your spouse with strengthen the relationship and your kids will feel the love as well. Make sure you set aside some time to do something you both enjoy together. You can hire a babysitter and schedule a date night…go for a picnic, catch a movie, or just take a long walk together.
Save Some Time for Yourself
So you’ve made time for work, the kids, and your spouse…but don’t forget to create some time for yourself. We all need a little alone time to relax and recharge. For some people that means a trip to the gym, while for others it means a glass of wine and a good book. It’s up to you. You’ve earned a little quiet time!
Going from a stay-at-home mom to full time employee is not going to be easy. It takes hard work and a lot of sacrifice, as does the other way around. It will be difficult in the beginning, but once you get a routine and understand you child will be OK in this next phase, it will make the transition easier. Not everything we plan goes the way we draw it out in our head, so being flexible is the best offense and defense when it comes to life changes.