By Rory Anderson, contributing writer
WHETHER IT’S KIDS getting older, divorce, a spouse losing a job, or just a need to feel more fulfilled in life, at some point many moms face the, “Am I going back to work?” question. Even if you’ve worked before having kids, you still face that question after maternity leave. Then there are the other questions that go along with that commitment: Who do I trust to watch my children while I’m working? How will I get everyone to their soccer practices and dance rehearsals? How will I fit in all of the things I’m doing now while also trying to be a good employee at my job?
1. Have a family council every week. At the start of each week (Sunday nights work well for this), gather as a family and discuss the upcoming week’s calendar. We use a Google calendar to share activities as a family, but we also have a white board calendar for our kids who don’t have email accounts yet, so they can see when mom and dad are going to be home or away and what activities are happening. This is a time to let each person in the family speak about their plans for the week and provides everyone with expectations for those plans.
2. Everyone helps. When I went back to work I could no longer do all of the “mom stuff” I was used to doing. It was imperative to communicate to my husband and children that they would need to help out more. We devised a plan that gave everyone a little more shared responsibility. But there was a compromise on my part: As long as they were helping, I had to be a little less particular about how I wanted things done that I was no longer doing myself. Maybe the dishes weren’t done exactly when I wanted them to be done or maybe laundry wasn’t folded how I would fold it, but things got done and we shared ownership of the household.
3. Plan family time free of distraction. This is crucial! Everyone needs time to connect with EVERYONE else in the family EVERY day. Whether it’s talking around the dinner table, playing a game together, sitting outside and chatting for a while, or reading together — set aside time each day to just be together as a family. Even if it is only 15 minutes, when you all make a commitment to spend that time with each other, distraction-free bonding ensues and relationships are strengthened.
4. Compartmentalize your time. Physical boundaries are great for helping stay on track with this one. When you’re at work, do work stuff. Try to manage your time at work so you don’t have to bring work home. When you’re at home, focus on your family and responsibilities around the house. Give 100 percent of your attention
to the duties that pair with your surroundings. Being intentional about your focus at home or at work will help you feel like you’re doing your best in each area and brings mental and emotional satisfaction and peace.
5. To-Do lists. I have an amazing friend who wears many hats throughout the day: mom, wife, teacher, and church volunteer to name a few. She has a list for each of her duties that she keeps next to her bed so that she can keep track of all of her responsibilities in every area of her life. She prioritizes her day around those lists so that she can focus on what needs to be done each day and keep track of them all.
6. Stay away from time suckers. Social media, TV, movies — they all have their place. Set a limit for yourself every day and stick to it. Better yet, choose one day a week to allow yourself to catch up on your social media accounts.
Going back to work requires a mental shift from everyone in the family. Kids will have to adjust to mom’s absence, just as much as mom adjusts to juggling family and work life. Implementing some of these strategies can help you find balance and success in both areas of your life.