One of the biggest challenges for parents is balancing the needs of their children, their careers, and their own needs. Managing a household and working takes a lot of organizational and communication skills, as well as a strong sense of priorities. As your child grows, the balance may shift and the issues change, but finding a way to manage the balance of work and family will remain important.
Whether this is your first child or your third, returning to work after a parental leave for childbirth or adoption can be a challenging time. Consider the following ideas to make the transition easier:
- Before you return to work, have a family meeting to discuss the changes that will be coming
- Ease yourself back into work by working part-time for a while, if possible
- Talk to your supervisor about your workload and schedule needs
- Talk to others at work who have returned after a parental leave for support
- Realize that it may take time for everyone in the family to adjust
Returning or beginning to work after having been home for many years is a big change for you and your entire family. Good preparation and good communication within your family will help with the adjustment process. Consider the following tips:
- Give chores to all family members. Responsibility and a sense of achievement are positive benefits even to young children. A three-year-old should be able to throw his or her own clothes in the laundry hamper.
- Give yourself and your family plenty of time to adjust to your new schedule. Don't expect everyone to adjust all at once. Do praise their efforts. Try to catch your children doing things that are helpful and positive. Tell them how much you appreciate their help.
- If possible, start slowly with a part- time job. Move to full-time work later.
- Understand that you may feel guilt and the pull between your new job and your family’s needs. This is normal. Try to appreciate your own efforts towards supporting your family and doing a good job at work.
- Look into books at your local library on this topic for yourself and your children.
- Talk with friends who are balancing work and family needs for tips and advice.
Having one parent stay at home with their children during the day is an option for some families. This depends on their finances and work schedules. Many families have one parent work nights and the other work days. A family with one parent at home may also have their child attend a part time program to give the child a chance to play with other children her own age.
Some issues to consider are:
- Can your family afford to have one parent at home? Consider your monthly budget carefully.
- If working opposite schedules, are you prepared to have limited time together as a family or a couple?
- Do you tend to feel isolated when on your own during the day?
- Do you have a career that you feel strongly about? Would it feel hard to take time off or leave it completely?
- Do you think that it would benefit your child and your family to have one parent stay at home? In what ways?
- Have you thought about ways to have your child interact with other children if you decide to stay at home?