Wondering what to do after being a stay-at-home mom? Whether you’re going back to work because you want to or because of a financial obligation, it can be challenging to get back into the workplace environment and the schedule it usually entails. No matter why you’re doing it, you can face your fear of going back to work.
Even if you have to jump back into a career on short notice, the more planning you can do ahead of time, the easier the transition will be. Get your kids on a schedule that’s similar to the one you’ll have when you go back to work.
It’s vital that everyone in the house knows their expectations and has a clear idea of what the routine will be like once you return to work. By preparing your family, you can help reduce some of the stress on that first day back to work.
If you’re using childcare when you go back to work, you may want to start that early, too. It’s much easier to get a call from daycare about a sad little one a few weeks before you start than it is on your first day.
If you have the luxury of being able to work part-time at your job or can manage some of your responsibilities from home, start with that. Dipping your toes into combined management of a family and a career can be easier than cannonballing into it.
Even if your ultimate goal is to go back to work full-time, you may be able to work your way up to it. Start with as little responsibility as you possible at work and then slowly increase it as you become more comfortable with being a working parent.
It’s not always feasible to go back to work on a part-time basis. If you are in a tight financial situation, your career path isn’t one that offers part-time positions, or you have another need that requires you to return full time, you will still be able to manage it. Recognize you may need to face your fear of going back to work to meet your family’s short- or long-term goals.
While you may think the stress falls solely on you as you head back to work, you also have to remember how it affects the little people you’re responsible for. Make sure you check in with them often and let them know that, while things might have changed in their daily routine, your love has not changed. It may sound silly, but it’s something you should reassure your kids of often.
Preparing your kids by keeping them informed and always focusing on them when you are at home can make it easier on them when you go back to work. Leave work at work and enjoy fun activities with your family when you’re home.
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Whether support looks like a husband who can split parenting duties or a great friend, you can vent to after a long day, you absolutely need a support system.
Even if your situation doesn’t come with a built-in support system like a spouse or a parent who can help you out, you can build your own support. Talk to friends, join working parent groups, and try to make friends with others who are in similar situations. Not only can these friends be great for a phone chat during your commute, but they might become the people you turn to when you need a break.
The act of being a parent can be exhausting. Working while trying to balance your parental responsibilities can put even more pressure on you. While you’re bound to have less time to do things for yourself, self-care becomes even more important when you go back to work after being off for an extended period.
Take time for a relaxing walk, a quick massage, or a soothing bubble bath one evening per week. You can almost always find time slots in your day that you can use for these activities. If you can’t find the time, make it by waking up an hour earlier, working through lunch to get a longer lunch break the next day, or using your newly replaced income to spring for a sitter.
Neglecting your self-care can lead to burnout and may even make going back to work harder. You’ll want to be in your best frame of mind for managing children and a career, so do not take a self-care routine lightly!
Facing your fear of going back to work becomes more comfortable when you consider how much fun it can be to talk to adults again. Or manage responsibilities that don’t result in another load of laundry or a screaming tantrum. Seriously. When you’re back at work, joking around the water cooler, and managing the challenge of trying to complete a task before your deadline, take a moment to look back on all of the time you spent at home. Chances are there were times when you longed for something other than the monotony of cleaning up spills over and again. In that case, having a position outside the home might end up being just what the doctor ordered.
If that’s not you and you are struggling with the idea of ever leaving your home, it might be a good time to consider remote positions (those you can complete from your home office) or even starting an online business. Whatever you choose, keep your family goals in mind. Whether it’s to put food on the table or allow your children to attend that private school, if you need employment, you’ll have to put aside your fear of going back to work and embrace a position that allows you to achieve the desired outcome.
What are your biggest concerns about going back to work? Join the conversation in the Moms Managing Money Facebook Group.
Other posts from our series on facing financial fears:
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