Welcoming a new baby into the family is a wonderful experience, but it can also be challenging, especially for parents returning to work shortly after giving birth. For many, transitioning from being a full-time parent at home to a working parent can be overwhelming. Why? Because balancing parenting and work can feel as though you need superhuman powers!
Still, with the right support and preparation, it can also be a positive experience for both parent and baby. In today's Piper Finn blog, we provide a smidgen of advice on preparing for the transition from home to the workplace and what to expect in the first few weeks as things settle into a new routine.
Parent Tips for Balancing Parenting and Work
Prepare for the Transition:
It's important to start preparing yourself, your baby, and your family well in advance of your return to work. Try gradually adjusting your baby's schedule to match your working hours, and find the right daycare or childminder that suits your needs. Consider visiting your workplace ahead of your first day to familiarize yourself again with your work environment and get organized for work.
Make a Checklist:
Create a checklist to ensure you have everything you need for you and your baby. This can include items like a spare breast pump, extra clothes and infant shoes, nappies, and bottles. Double-check you have all the necessary documents, such as your updated health insurance and emergency contact information, and make sure your chosen nursery is aware of your baby's needs, such as allergies or medications. When balancing parenting and work, being prepared is vital!
Explore Government Aid and Support:
Depending on your circumstances, parents returning to work in the US may be eligible for various government programs and financial assistance schemes. These can include free pre-kindergarten programs, subsidies for child care or after-school programs, and paid parental leave in certain states. Not many parents are aware of the childcare subsidies available to them – take a look at this recent Care.com article by Kate Ward; she provides a snapshot of up to nine US government subsidies every young family should know about!
What are Your Company's Obligations?
Employers in the US are required by law to comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act, which entitles eligible employees (you) to take up to 12 weeks unpaid, job-secured leave per year. Parents are permitted to use accrued vacation or sick leave in conjunction with FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) leave. Moreover, employers must provide a reasonable amount of break time and a suitable place for employees to express breast milk if they are breastfeeding. Check your workplace policy to ensure you are accessing all the benefits and support you are entitled to.
Be Kind to Yourself:
Balancing parenting and work can be emotionally and physically draining, especially as family life can be chaotic at the best of times. Don't be too hard on yourself; allow yourself enough time to adjust to the changes. Engage with your co-parent, childminder, or someone you trust to support you and share responsibilities for caring for the baby. Make time to do something fun or relaxing for you and your family each day, whether it's a short walk or some soothing reading time together. Remember, self care is the key to being the super parent you are!
The stress of returning to work after having a baby is unavoidable and can be a challenging transition, but with preparation and a good understanding of your workplace benefits, it can have positive results. However, it's not all about being prepared; it's also about realizing you are not alone in your parenting challenges, and there are many support systems to draw upon to help make the process easier. Lastly, if the company you work for isn't supportive of you and your angelic offspring, perhaps it's time to consider a career change?