Have you been a stay at home mom or dad for a period of time? When you return to work after you’ve been “out of the game” for a while, you’re naturally going to struggle for a bit rediscovering that balance between home and work, but don’t feel guilty about it. If you have made the decision to go back to work, whether to earn extra income for your family or to challenge yourself again, it was your decision and you should own it. Regardless, there is an adjustment period, but there are things you can do to lower your stress levels when you return to work.
First off, you have got to acknowledge that your life is different than it was the last time you were working. You have other, fairly large responsibilities now and you cannot be expected to sacrifice all of your old responsibilities for the sake of a new job. You need to let both sides know what to expect while you find balance between your work life and your home life.
If you have a significant other, you need to make it clear to them that they are going to have to chip in and help out around the house. Let your boss know that, while you are going to work your hardest, your children will need you from time to time. Don’t worry, you’ll find the right balance. We all do, but it’s going to take some time and some clear communication.
Next, don’t pull a “superwoman or superman!” You can only handle so many things at once and, honestly, if you try to do everything, you are going to crash and burn. That’s something you do not want to have happen when you are just starting a new job. It’s tempting (and exciting) to just dive right into your new work and only come up occasionally for air, but you have to hold yourself back a bit until you find your balance.
So, rather than taking everything on for yourself, ask for help! You know, it’s OK to ask for help, right? Trust me, I know it’s hard to tame your inner control freak, but you’re going to have to trust your coworkers and communicate your situation to them if you are feeling overwhelmed or you think you’re falling behind. If you are doing your part, contributing and helping them out when you can, chances are, they won’t mind chipping in a bit from time to time to help you as you find the balance you need between your home life and your work life. Remember, they are struggling with the same issues you are. Strive to help each other!
I would like to hear from you now. If you’ve recently come back to work after spending time off to start a family, what are some of the challenges you’ve faced and the advice you would give to other parents that are returning to work after some time away?