So you’re ready to go back to work?
Here is your guide to surviving the work/baby juggling act.
My bub was 16 weeks old when I returned to work 3 days a week at a busy advertising studio. The reason for returning to work was partly for my own sanity and partly because we just really needed the extra income. The challenge with working ‘part-time’ is that really you’re cramming 5 days of work into 3. Not an easy feat for an already jam-packed job. Add the sleepless nights, the breastfeeding/pumping routine, coordinating meetings or late night conference calls around carers and babysitters and things can get insane, very quickly. Then there is the pressure you place on yourself to eat well, get bub into that sleeping routine that all those books prescribe, introduce solids and somehow get to the gym…
So here is a little list of 5 simple tips to help ease you back into the work saddle.
It goes without saying, but organisation is key – be half a day ahead of yourself at all times; Write your to do’s down the night before work, pack your lunch and lay out your work clothes before you hop into bed. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve missed the bus to work because I’ve thrown on an outfit that when I get out into the light of day, I notice has baby vom all over it.
Arm yourself with a very healthy sense of humour. Breast pumping at work is terrible at the best of times. My office is small and the only room with a closing door is the toilet. People use the toilet a lot in my office, and often for sessions requiring a newspaper. When your only window for pumping happens to be directly after a newspaper session, trying to think of your darling baby to prompt a let down is virtually impossible when your nostril hairs are singed. You have to learn to laugh or else it all becomes too overwhelming. I only lasted 3 weeks pumping at work. I cut back to just morning and evening feeds after that, with formula during the day. If breastfeeding is important to you, it is possible, but it does take serious commitment.
Be a list writing machine. If you’re trying to stick to some sort of routine with your baby and they have multiple carers’ looking after them on your work days, you will need to be specific. Write down feeding times, play times, sleep times, pram times. I’ve learnt that people forget , writing down what they need to do is a must. I also prep all the bottles, feeds, toys, clothes, nappies and wipes that they may need the night before to make things a little easier.
Online grocery shopping is the best service ever! Embrace it immediately and spend more time playing with bub.
Batch cooking on weekends. If you’re trying to avoid take away food for dinner, get involved in weekend cook-offs. It sounds laborious, but trust me, if you pop on your fave album while you cook, you will be surprised how gratifying a cook-off can be. I spend a Sat night planning my meals and then I prep the ingredients on Sunday morning before doing the cooking when I get bub down for his mid arvo sleep. Failing that, I task hubby with the cooking duties. Everything goes in the freezer I am sorted for the week. Usually all I need to prep on the night is rice or salad etc.
And lastly… as a good friend recently put it – ‘the nights are long but the years are short.’ I don’t remember the last time I felt well slept and rested… its all very stressful and exhausting.. but it will come to and end eventually – coffee is my best friend in the meantime.