Returning to work after having a child is a big step, no matter whether it’s your first or fourth time. You’ve spent months transitioning through parenthood and new dynamics, caring for a completely dependant human being, all whilst trying to manage your emotional and physical wellbeing. Throw into the mix that your baby still hasn’t established a routine and needs to be constantly resettled through the night. Soon you’re expected to make decisions at work and show up to your career.
It can sound a little daunting, but I'm here to tell you that there’s always a silver lining.
You Can Establish a Predictable Pattern At Any Age
Whether your baby is 6 months or 2 years old, you can establish a routine that is suitable for them, which they will absolutely thrive off. Routines aren’t about strict schedules but tailoring a plan that suits their age, awake times, and temperament. This helps them be adaptable between carers.
You might think that handing over a piece of paper with your child’s routine may seem
bossy, but your MIL or preschool educators will actually appreciate not having to do the
guesswork. You can use the phrase “this will make your day a lot easier” – this really means that there’s consistency between home days, preschool, and grandparents.
Functioning As A Working Family
Whether you’re going back part- or full-time, your days and nights will depend on flowing (relatively) smoothly. Between caring for your babe/s, yourself, preparing food, keeping the house turning over, being a great colleague, friend, and partner needs a well-rested parent.
Functioning at such a high capacity and showing up in our lives as we want to isn’t fuelled by broken sleep, let me tell you that. You can’t survive long term on coffee and wine – you’ll end up burnt out and/or with health issues that may not have been prevalent before.
The Big Steps
Handing your child over to another carer is a huge step for both you and babe, so I’d encourage doing this a few weeks before you return to work so you can assist the transition with half-days so you can fill their cup when they get home. Start with a couple of half days, and slowly extend out until you’re all ready to go back to work and start the ‘new normal’ for your family. Plus, there’s nothing like your little one’s face when you arrive to pick them up after a work day, it makes it all worth it.
Everyone Needs Time To Recharge
Picture this, you’ve picked up your babe from preschool, enjoyed dinner and bathtime
together, read some books, cuddled, and put them to bed. You enjoy a glass of wine with your partner and spend an hour or so before climbing into bed knowing you’ll get a good 7-8 hours of sleep, waking up feeling ready for another day. Sounds good doesn’t it?
But is your reality – you’ve picked up your child from your parent’s place, they’re tired and
irritable as they haven’t slept well, you’re overstimulated from work and their fussiness so you try to rush bath-time to get them down early, but they fight sleep until they’ve fallen asleep in your arms after an hour of settling. You have a quick shower and go to bed, but struggle as you have sleep anxiety because you’re unsure of when their first and subsequent wakes will be. You wake up feeling hungover and tired for another long day.
Let’s change this by establishing a routine for your family so your return to work is smoother, everyone is more adaptable, and your nights are predictable.
Babies and children thrive off a regular rhythm, their body clocks tune into an appropriate nap structure, leading to consolidated sleep both day and night. Your whole family unit thrives with this function, even though you may be busy, you can tackle whatever the day throws at you as you’re able to rest and recharge each night.