A Journey of Change
No matter how much advice you get about how your life with kids changes, it’s really hard to imagine until you experience it firsthand. After all, who knew that even if the day could suddenly stretch to 48 hrs, you still wouldn’t be able to ‘get it all done’ and only end up twice as tired.
And even though I’m sure that the world changes differently for every parent, the common denominator remains the same:
It changes a lot.
Because kids give us the gift of love that is marvellous and unique, bring great joys and happiness, as well as a whole bunch of new growth opportunities (as I came to call them).
Returning to work twice now after parental leaves has been one of those growth opportunities for me. Here’s how I embraced the change:
Step One: Make the Big Decision
Should I go back?
Do I even want to go back?
If I don’t, can we afford me staying home with the kids?
Questions were piling up in my mind at the speed of light and answers did not come easily. After going back and forth between pros and cons, finally I made the decision to go back.
Work and career are important to me. I’m passionate about my work (at least most of the time). Being lucky enough to have met great mentors throughout my career, I believe I have grown as a person, matured and got to know myself better, which in turn is helping me today in being a better parent.
Money. Let’s not fool ourselves, we all need it. It’s not easy to live off one income for most families; especially if one day our little ones decide to become the next Sidney Crosby, Dr. Heather Culbert, or Chris Hadfield for that matter.
Balance. For myself, I need a balance between the amount of adult world and child world I get on a regular basis. A prolonged overdose of just one of them would affect my sanity. I want my kids to be happy, and how else can I teach them that other than being happy myself.
Step Two: Find Childcare
The first time I went back to work this was trickier. We were new to the area and asking friends day care recommendations was not an option. Thankfully in the Internet era, the pre-selection of daycares I wanted to visit was relatively easy but actually deciding which daycare to trust my child to was not so easy. But after a few site visits with questions, reference checks and mother’s intuition, I was finally able to make this big decision. The happiness of our daughter confirmed it, helped to build much needed trust, and develop a great relationship with the daycare provider.
This experience made it easier for me this year, when I was planning to return to work for the 2nd time. Not only did the phone bill suffer less since the number of text messages I sent to the daycare checking on the kids was considerably lower, but also I was able to implement a different “come back” plan.
Step Three: Make a Plan. Ask for What You Want.
I decided to go back less cold turkey and start working only once a week for the first couple of months.
My employer agreed to this.
Yes they did.
Even without specific ‘progressive-return-to-work-after-mat-leave-policy’!
It turns out that when your boss is desperate enough to have you back as soon as you can (even if it’s less than part time), HR will support whatever works for the business. Don’t be afraid to talk to your employer about alternative return-to-work plans. They might surprise you!
Step Four: Prepare, Prepare, Prepare.
Okay, so you can never really completely prepare yourself for this change but you can set yourself up to make the transition as smooth as possible to ease the stress. For me, this ranged from pre-freezing decent breast milk supply, to figuring out, with my husband, a way for the kids to spend the minimal amount of time at daycare for the first few weeks, to preparing a detailed action plan for the comeback morning.
In the end, I believe that change is good, even though we are usually scared of the unknown. It makes life challenging and interesting at the same time. Being able to control it and prepare for it as much as possible makes it less scary for me.
Good luck in making your own decisions and “May the change be forever in your favour!”
Have you recently returned to work after Pparental leave? Did you decide to stay home? What influenced your decision?
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.