Whether you have been on a break for three years or ten, it’s going to be a big transition for you and your family when you go back to work. It is crucial to think ahead and prepare to help your children transition as smoothly as possible.
1. Be present in the moment
If you are at work be present at work and give it your all. If you are home with your children be truly present with them. Enjoy them, listen to them and don’t think about work. Do your best to push those thoughts away for another time! Your children will notice and feel the difference if you are present in the moment.
2. Plan and practice ahead of time
The transition will be easier on everyone if there is time to adjust to the new routine. Start at least a week or two before your work schedule starts. This will help your children adjust but more importantly allow you time to figure out what works for your new schedule and what doesn’t. You won’t know until you try! It is also important not to start your day “rushed” or end your day “rushed”. I know-easier said than done! But give yourself “breathing room” and schedule ahead that you have at least 15 minutes before you need to leave since there is always something that will come up last minute. For example, Johnny can’t find his musical instrument or school paperwork wasn’t signed off on. Or maybe you spilled coffee down your blouse!
3. Outsource-enlist help
Make a list of what needs to be done and divide among family members according to their preferences and ability. Only you know what is needed and ask for help if you or a family member can’t do it. Perhaps on Tuesdays it is easier to ask your father or babysitter to drive Samantha to dance class since it will cause too much stress if you or your husband won’t be home in time. Ask for help! A neighbor might pick up your child after school as well. It doesn’t hurt to ask. You may be surprised how fellow moms and classmates can help out. And in return you can help out too on a day that works best for your schedule.
4. Stay in the Loop
Allow technology to benefit you to stay in touch with your children or teachers/coaches if you are not able to be there. It will help you to know what is happening but also allow you to feel more connected.
5. Portray confidence and manage your feelings
There is not much you can get past your children but it helps to not let your children feel your anxiety and stress. Try to stay calm in the moment since they will sense it. Remember moods are contagious! Don’t second guess yourself and portray confidence even if you aren’t feeling it.
6. Let go of the guilt
Once you have reassured yourself that you are doing what you need to do, then simply let go of the guilt. Trust yourself and the choices you have made for your family.
7. Reassess what is working and what is not
At the end of each week or month make a note of what worked really well (ordering pizza for dinner on Thursday nights) or what didn’t. Your schedule is never set in stone and slight improvements can be made that will allow for a better transition for your children. Take notice and ask for feedback from your husband and children.
8. Plan special time with each child
Your children want your love and attention. Find small ways to spend extra time with them together but also individually. It might be reading extra books before bedtime with one child or planning a “day date” with your 10-year-old daughter to take her to a movie. Allow your child the one on one time they are craving. Quality over quantity!
Dr. Jennifer Politis, PhD, LPC, of Politis Therapy Services, LLC, is a therapist and educational psychologist specializing in therapy and evaluation services for children and adults in Bergen County. She works with women dealing with issues related to motherhood, life balance, stress and relationships. She works with children that have learning differences, academic challenges, behavioral issues, depression and anxiety. Dr. Politis earned her doctoral degree from Fordham University. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, School Psychologist and Certified School Counselor. Phone: 201-820-5737 Email: [email protected]
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