Return to Work: Morning Madness and Evening Struggles

Returning to work from maternity leave can be a huge adjustment. For so long our day to day lives have revolved around the minutiae of keeping a small human alive, fed, clean, socialised and generally content but for many the return to work is an inevitable hurdle on the parenting journey. To ease the transition, it can be helpful to understand your family’s pain points and put some plans in place to make life a little less frantic.

Getting out the door on time and keeping it together at the end of the day as you head into the witching hour are key stress points that are mentioned by many of my clients. Whether your family struggles with one or both prepare for these times by allocating specific age and ability related roles to share the load, keep little fingers and minds occupied and give you a bit of much needed breathing space.

Morning Madness

  • Have a written checklist for the kids bags so you, or whoever is to hand, can pack and prepare the right things. A final check of the list means you won’t be doubling back for forgotten essentials and the mental burden of remembering the hundred and one things for each family member doesn’t rest squarely with you.
  • Pack bags the night before. This goes for you, your partner and the kids.
  • Pack lunches the night before, once the kids are in bed. Saves money and your sanity!
  • Consider batch making a family breakfast once or twice a week (if you can get everyone to eat the same thing!). Try a breakfast loaf, smoothie, or overnight oats.
  • Select outfits the night before for everyone, older kids could even choose their own within reason.
  • Clocks. Clocks everywhere. Its so easy for time to slip right on by when you’re juggling a million things in the morning. Have easily visible clocks in the kitchen, lounge and bathroom so you can stay on track.
  • Set an alarm on your phone or watch for 10 mins before you need to leave so you can start hustling and herding everyone towards the exit.

Evening Struggles

  • Have a few non-negotiable rules for everyone around coats/shoes/hats being put away as soon as you come in the door, and if possible have an area with storage or hooks close by so there is less chance they will get scattered (and lost) throughout the house. We started this with our toddler and she now reminds us when we come in the door!
  • Batch cook. Double up when cooking some of your meals and portion them out before freezing so you can grab something quick healthy, home cooked and child friendly.
  • Embrace the frozen. Frozen veg and fruit can be your friend. Food tech has come such a long way that the process locks in a huge amount of the nutritional value which can mean it is in a better state than some of the fresh produce on the supermarket shelves. Also frozen peas can be a great time consuming toddler/kid snack!
  • Have an if-this-then-that agreement with your partner. If you’re on dinner duty they could be getting the PJ’s/towels etc ready for bath and bed and vice versa. This can remove the potential for arguments arising out of tiredness and general end of day stresses.
  • Think flexible. Try basing your evening routine just on essentials and make sure everyone is clear on it. For our house this means everyone has done any specific necessary chores, and that they are fed, clean (including teeth) and in bed on time. That’s the general order but how we get there is flexible and takes the stress out of managing a strict routine.

If you're back at work and struggling with the never ending treadmill or preparing for your return, then check out the tailored Return-to-Work consultation, specifically for Mum's, with baby friendly appointments in your home (Auckland) or via skype.