(By Marion Smith: A single mom of four boys aged 20, 14, and 11-year-old twins)
The thought of returning to work is an emotional roller coaster for most moms. They want to regain their independence and associate with adults again during the day, but guilt eats away at them because they don’t want to leave their children behind…
Many moms return to work not because they want to but because they need to supplement the family income. Those moms who work in the corporate environment also have the added pressure of staying on top of their game. They need to stay up to date with knowledge and the practises of their particular industry.
Some points to consider when returning to work:
It’s advisable to start looking for childcare options at least a month before your maternity leave is up. That way, you are not pressurised into taking the first option you see.
There are various choices from having a childminder or Au pair at home to selecting a crèche suitable to your needs. Some moms will also opt for a playgroup a few days a week and have a childminder or Au pair fetch them and take them home.
The advantage of having childminder or Au pair take care of your children is that they are at home where they can stick to the routine you have set up for them, and you know the environment is healthy. You can also call her any time to check on your children.
One of the advantages of a crèche is that it can be a bit cheaper than having a qualified, full day Au pair.
Now that you are returning to work you will need to ensure that your days are planned well in advance.
It’s best to have a weekly schedule set up and a roster that the childminders can follow. Do the grocery shopping on the weekend and draw up a menu for the week so that you don’t need to think each day what you will cook, you can also shop according to the menu.
Have a shared calendar with your partner so that you both know the routine for the week.
To have a happy home, both parents should work together in raising the children. Take turns in collecting them from school, reading bedtime stories, supervising bath time etc.
Give each other a break, take turns taking the children out for a milkshake on the weekend or a movie so that the other parent can have some “me time”. Think of ways to make your day-to-day life easier. Try online shopping & delivery, pre-cooked meals, and anything that will lighten the work load.
Make a decision about bottle / breast feeding
You can still continue with breast milk for your babies if you want. Ensure you wear blouses to work that are easy to unbutton so that you can express. Make sure you are used to using a pump and know how it works. Practise often at home.
Before you go back to work if you have been exclusively breast feeding, slowly introduce your babies to bottles so that they don’t experience nipple confusion. You can start building up a milk supply at home so that the caregiver can start feeding the babies in your presence.
Weigh up the financial value of returning to work
Look at income versus cost when deciding to go back to work. Ask yourself a few questions such as:
- How much will I earn?
- How much will I pay for childcare
- What’s the costs of nappies and formula and extras needed for creche
- What are my transport costs such as petrol? (Maybe you only have one car in the family and will now need a second one or will have to pay for public transport)
- Will your partner be willing to help with family chores after a day’s work?
Is it financially viable to go back to work when you look at the above?
The decision to return to work should be supported by your partner. You should both come to agreement on how you will work together to make the household operate effectively and happily for everyone.
There are going to be large doses of guilt at first when mom returns to work, but approach it with a positive attitude and the guilt will diminish and eventually disappear.
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