Ways to Maintain a Work-Life Balanceby Emma Dowey
When I had my first son in 2013, I knew I’d want to go back to work. For me, staying at home just wasn’t what I wanted to do. And financially, it wasn’t an option. As much as I love my son, I also really enjoy working and the different sense of achievement it gives me. Some of us don’t have a choice though when it comes to returning to work. It’s simply a need to rather than a want to. After having a year off, the prospect of going back to the 9 to 5 can seem really daunting. All of a sudden you’re caring for your child (or children!) and having to manage the workday too. How will you fit it all in? How will you keep organised? And how will you try and maintain a healthy balance between work and home?
Today we’re sharing a few tips for practical things you can do when going back to work.
Use your KIT days. Keep in Touch days that is. If you can, try and use a before you back. These really helped me connect with work again. They also helped with simply clearing things like my inbox before my first day back.
Flexible working. Before heading back to work, find out what’s on offer regarding flexible working for both parents. It may be you can condense your hours or perhaps your partner can.
Working from home. Find out if working from home is an option. Yes, I appreciate you can’t really “work” when you have a little one running around, but even for things like the school run, working from home means I don’t waste time commuting.
Cut your lunch. Can you half your lunchbreak and head out a half-hour early? If you get a full hour, perhaps see if you can scale that back.
Childcare. Finding the right childcare is essential for establishing a great work/life balance. You need something that is flexible and accommodating to your needs. Be sure to start your childcare hunt sooner than you think. Often nurseries and childminders get booked up months in advance.
Club time. Use breakfast and afterschool clubs if your child is at school. Our eldest son is at school so when at work, we use the breakfast and after school club. Be sure to budget this in, and see if you can use childcare vouchers for payment.
Family help. It’s lovely if you have willing family members on your doorstep but this isn’t always the case. If your family can help out, be sure to establish a routine that can be maintained. You don’t need inconsistencies each week.
Establish a routine. Try and get into a new one as soon as you can. When my son started school, we all of a sudden found ourselves too busy on an evening to focus on his reading. Cooking dinner, tidying up, getting bathed and ready for bed was not a great time to get my son to do his reading for school. He was also far too tired after the day. Instead, we started doing his reading at breakfast time. He was fresh out of bed and it’s over and done with first thing!
Outsource tasks. I appreciate this depends on your budget but when I went back to work four days a week, my number one luxury spend was not on spa days but a cleaner. It helped keep on top of things. And it meant I could spend quality time with my son at the weekend rather than clean the bathrooms.
Little and often. Try doing a bit of cleaning each day, rather than leaving it all until the weekend. If you can’t afford to outsource things like cleaning, break them down into manageable tasks. So instead of trying to clean the whole kitchen, perhaps one day wipe down the cooker and cupboards, the next day mop the floors etc. Break a lot of tasks down into smaller ones. I find the best thing for this…
To-do lists. Yep, the trusty to-do list. Love them or loathe them, lists keep us organised and focused. I literally write down everything. Every day. It stops me procrastinating and it means I am super smart with my time.
Get organised the night before. Balancing school, nursery and work can seem a nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be. Reduce the stress on a morning by getting ready the night before. Make sure you have things like change bags and lunch boxes ready to go. And know where school shoes were dumped the night before. Many times I’ve spent ages trying to locate my son’s shoes.
Eat together. This really depends on what time you’re home from work but we always try and eat together early. I often cook something that I can modify for my older son. And I make sure we eat around 5-6pm so our baby can have his “meal” at the table too in his high-chair.
Making the most of lighter evenings. During the summer, make the most of the light evenings. Walks, runs, bike rides are all easy to do with kids. They burn off some energy, you get some fresh air and some exercise. Win-win.
Don’t be hard on yourself. Be kind to yourself. You’re doing great. Managing a busy house as well as work can be tough going. If you get behind on the cleaning or have a few days of simple meals, don’t stress it.
Let things go. It’s ok if the sink is full or the washing doesn’t get done. It will be there tomorrow.
Going back to work after a year off can seem a really big deal. It’s like that Sunday night feeling times a million. Are you about to go back to work after maternity leave? Or have you been back and also have some tips to share? Be sure to comment or tell us how you’re getting on over on social media!