There are plenty of factors to consider when faced with the decision to work outside the home as a parent.  It's a privilege to stay home for some and it's a necessity for others.  The same goes for the decision to return to the work force.  For me, it was nice to have the opportunity to earn money, associate with adults regularly, and brush the dust off my skills. However, financial restraints pushed me out the door a little bit sooner than I was ready for.  I still needed a little support in the beginning to successfully make the change.

By Julie Ann, Accounts Receivable

It’s been a little over a year since I went back to work, and I’ve learned a few tricks that have helped me successfully transition into a new role as a working parent.  These tips won’t necessarily treat the feeling of missing your child(ren), but the hope is to reduce the amount of stress felt by the entire family.

Find reliable child care

Remember these kids are used to you, so it is necessary to find a quality replacement. If you don’t have the luxury of a grandparent, family member, or friend, then be sure to do your research.  Visit the most cost-effective facilities in your area unannounced to get a good feel for what happens when you are not there.  Your child will be spending a hefty amount of time here so give it your due diligence.   

Plan meals ahead

Planning for ingredients and trips to the grocery store have never meant so much now that you are a working parent.  There is very little time in the evening and everybody is at or nearing the hangry zone.  Having easy meals prepped or planned and all ingredients on hand is so necessary for a smooth and pleasant evening.  It will save money on take-out and it will give better nutrition for the next morning.  Crock pot recipes are a lifesaver!!  Do as much of the prepping for the meals on Sundays, when the little ones can help, which will double as quality time spent together. 

Prepare as many little things the night before as possible

Getting to work on-time is almost a whole other blog. But I think we all agree that getting things done the night before will prevent the morning rush and will reduce the amount of stress everybody feels. Pack lunches, do the dishes, lay out your clothes and the kids’ clothes the night before. This saves so much time in the morning. It might even leave a little time to relax, cuddle, and read a story on the couch before getting into those perfectly planned outfits.

Value and seek alone time

So many more people will be competing for your time.  Everybody will miss you at home and your brain will have a lot more strain from its use at work.  Even if it is just twenty minutes a day or an hour a week, it is important to recharge your batteries.  This is a tough transition so you will have to be at your best to make the most of it.  Don’t forget to do the things you love and get plenty of fresh air. 

Limit evening and weekend scheduling

This might be difficult at first.  Remember, the energy zap will creep up on you and quicker for the kids, which will most likely come in the form of a major melt-down.  There is going to be a lot more go, go, go during the week just to get to work, so make it a point to do very little on the weekends.  This will allow for togetherness, something you have probably been missing, and it can mean all the difference in your energy level the next week.