Balancing Work and Family – Tips for Parents Returning to Work

Combining work and family responsibilities is a challenge. There are so many factors to consider it can seem an almost impossible task to do both jobs well. With careful planning, however, you can manage both successfully.

The key to successfully balancing work and home responsibilities is to strike a healthy balance between your commitments. If you’re planning on returning to work, these ideas will help smooth the transition from full time parent to working parent.

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Balancing Work and Family - Tips for Parents Returning to Work


Childcare 
Childcare is a major concern for working parents. As a parent you need to be satisfied that your child is receiving the best care in a loving and nurturing environment.
Remember to organise alternative care arrangements in case of emergency. Have one or two people who can provide back up child care if your child, or their primary carer, becomes ill.

Health
Creating a balance between work and family can only be achieved if you take care of your health and well being. Schedule time for regular exercise into your timetable. Look after yourself – take a long bath, read a magazine or do nothing. Don’t over extend your commitments. Allowing yourself time to relax and spend time with the family will help you maintain health and happiness in your work and family life.

Organisation
Forward planning and effective time management are essential. Get started by thinking about all the things that need to be done and write them down. This gives you a realistic picture of how and when you can fit everything in. Then make a schedule. Remember to include items such as travelling time, time to relax and semi regular appointments (doctors, for example) as well as weekly chores like grocery shopping and paying the bills.
If you have older children perhaps you could write up a roster of weekly chores and ask them to ‘volunteer’ for the ones they’d like to do. Remember, as the parent, you have the power to choose ‘volunteers’!

Priorities
If you’re starting back at work soon after having a baby or while your children are young, your priorities and values will have changed enormously since you last worked. Take this into consideration before you go back to work. Chances are you won’t want, or won’t be able to, work back late. Taking work home may no longer be an option. On the flip side, cooking and housework habits will probably change. Accept the fact that the way things are done around the home will alter when you go back to work.

Support Networks 
Successfully combining work and family takes support. Whether you have a partner or are a sole parent you will need a strong support network to help you balance work and family successfully. Friends and family are usually the first we turn to but if they’re not available local community centres can often help out. Support networks can help out with emergency child care, with taking children to activities or appointments or simply being there to listen when you feel it’s all becoming too hard. Remember many employers will also be empathetic to your needs if, for example, your child becomes ill. Nobody expects you to do it all. Ask for help when you need it.

Working Hours 
With so many employees combining work and family responsibilities today many employers offer flexible flexible working arrangements to parents. Before you go back to work decide how many hours you want to work in a week and take this into consideration before applying for work. Explore options like job sharing, part time work and incorporating telecommuting. If you have a job to go back to, give yourself plenty of time to negotiate with your employer about flexible working hours before your return.

Summary 

  •  consider flexible working hours
  •  ensure you are completely happy with your choice of childcare
  •  have a strong support network in place
  •  plan and manage your time effectively
  •  schedule in ‘me’ time as well as family time
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