Hi ho, hi ho, it’s back to work I go.
Being home with your babe has been exhausting, exhilarating, and almost exactly what you dreamed it would be. But, sigh, all good things come to an end. That back-to-work deadline’s looming and with it, an impending sense of doom. And a whole lotta questions. Like, will you remember what you used to do in your nine-to-five? And can you be productive on no sleep? And how will she deal without seeing your face all day? And how the heck will YOU deal without your sidekick glued to your hip? STRESS!
Circle the wagons.
Returning to work is a major change whether you’re excited, bummed, or a bit of both. So it requires major prep. I went back after my first two mat leaves, and it was definitely challenging. But it was also SO incredibly rewarding. At least until this jerk came along… that was not rewarding at all. That led to this analysis, and the realization that I’d be a SAHM/WAHM indefinitely after our third. But I know what I’d do if I was heading back to an official job – it’s also what I’d do if one of us was sick, injured, or we decided to try for baba number four (which we will not be doing, even though our boys beg us using their best pretty please eyes). It’s called survival mode, guys. Here’s how to rock it:
- Finalize childcare. Hopefully you put your embryo on waiting lists back when you learned of her existence, but if not, now’s the time to call. Repeatedly. There’s no shame in schmoozing a daycare director if you have your heart set – we’ve found this particular squeaky wheel always gets the grease. If you’re desperate, your best bet is to use the great mama network to spread the word. With perseverance and a little luck, you’ll find an awesome nanny or home daycare. And hopefully you’ll have enough prep time for this to curb those goodbye blues.
- Hire a cleaner. Sure, cleaning à la chore chart works superbly when you’re home all day: a little baking soda here, a coffee/story/tantrum there, back to scrub… buh-bye shower scum. But when you barely have a chance for quality time with your tot, those dust bunnies should be the last thing on your priority list. The absolute last.
- Fill your freezer. We’ve been known to SupperSolved/SupperWorks when the going gets tough. Lifesaver! Fridge defrost the night before, set the oven timer in the morning and ta-da: dinner is donezo. Well, as long as you actually remember to put the dish in the oven before you head out the door… mornings can be foggy.
- Consider other convenient dining options. I recently heard about Green Zebra Kitchen from our local Mommy Connections. If only I knew last summer when our almost-toddler was a newbie! If you know of any babysitters/kid-chefs in your hood, or if you were savvy enough to hire a mom’s helper back when your mat leave started, now’s the time to hook it up. And file your fave takeout menus, natch.
- Grocery Gateway. The more chores you hire someone else to do, the more one-on-one you get with your monkey.
- Decide if sleep really is an issue. If it is, the time to sleep-train is pre-end-of-leave and not after you’re back at work, running around like a headless chicken. I would have been fine with one or two nightly wake-ups (anyone else amazed by how good a four hour stretch feels when you’ve adapted to less?) but our oldest regularly woke hourly demanding me as his pacifier. Luckily a more experienced parent suggested this, which restored my sanity. At least temporarily.
- Make a plan for sick days because once your immuno-perfecto tot is exposed to all the socializin’ germs you’ll need it every week or three. Seriously, do not underestimate how often your child will have a runny nose and how inflexible your childcare provider might be. If you’re lucky enough to live close to grandparents, have a heart-to-heart so there’s no miscommunication when you call them last-minute. It might be worth considering a back-up like Kids & Company, especially if your extended fam’s not local. And if you’re in the GTA, definitely, definitely, keep MedVisit on speed dial. Their house-calling docs won’t babysit, but at least you won’t be stuck virus-swapping in a waiting room.
- Talk to your partner to cut out non-essential chores (hello ironing!) and divvy up whatever you’re not outsourcing non-confrontational style. Chances are whoever’s on leave has been keeping the home-fires burning… and putting them out! Having a convo about who’ll be doing the day-to-day means no future arguments about the laundry mountain. Or at least not as many.
- Take it easy when you can. Life will be busy and crazy and sometimes too much, so make sure to book in me-time for your fave way to de-stress. Also recognize that sometimes crashing on the couch is far, far more critical than folding the pre-folds.
You’ll have more time and money one day, but not today. Paying someone (anyone!) to do the dirty work means less in the bank, but you get to focus on what’s actually important. Cuddles, giggles, and syllable babble conversations beat food prep any day. Hands down. Preferably paint-covered. Preferably washable.