10 Family Survival Tips For When Mum Goes Back To Work
Our darling son turned 18 months recently and I went back to work. Whilst it’s been a rather emotional time for me, all the worries I had about the house falling into a state of chaos have been completely unfounded. It’s been just as calm and organised as before (well, as calm and organised as it can be with a toddler!)
Here are some simple family survival tips for when mum goes back to work which have helped us so much during this transition.
Have a plan
Take the time to plan mums return to work and decide on any new routines and tasks as a family. Involve older kids in planning and in helping out with new household chores. Start changing routines gradually in the weeks leading up to your return to work – which may also involve trial and error. Give the family time to adjust to this new reality.
Write it down, schedule it
If my baby brain was on the blink before, it is seriously on overload now. I used to have an amazing memory, but, alas, those days are long gone. My biggest tip is to write it down – or use your preferred electronic method. I use my phone calendar but there are diaries and apps galore that will help you schedule, list and organise.
I’ve scheduled in simple tasks in my calendar such as ‘put on a load of laundry’, ‘pack lunch for tomorrow’, ‘water plants’, ‘defrost meat for tomorrow’s dinner’. Include recurring tasks throughout the week. Yes, you will need to be reminded every-single-time!
These tasks may sound simple, but when your brain is overloaded, it is the simple tasks that fall off the precipice. And whilst I love lists, when it comes to these everyday tasks, I like to be reminded by my phone at a specific time that suits my schedule.
This is so important, no matter whether you work inside or outside your home and it will save you so much time, money – and your sanity. I’ve been meal planning for years, but I’ve really come to realise how amazing it is recently. Combine this with online grocery shopping and you’ll be saving yourself so much time, money – and your sanity!
The week’s meals are planned on Sunday night, reminders to defrost/chop/prep are entered into my calendar, so there’s never any dinner panic or a last-minute dash for takeaway.
This is an extension of meal planning. Prepping several meals when you have the time is a life-saver and requires little extra effort.
I do not cook on work nights. The most I do is reheat, sometimes cook rice/pasta or throw a salad together. The main part of the meal is always pre-cooked. So, lots of mince, which is super versatile for all sorts of meals, curries, stews, soups, quiches and pastries. Rice and pasta bakes also freeze really well.
I have approximately 15 minutes from when I walk through the front door to when dinner needs to be on the table (cue ‘on-a-super-growth-spurt’ hungry toddler!). So, if there are veggies to be cut or potatoes to be boiled, I do those in the morning. You may need to rethink your meal plan so that you can accommodate meal prep in stages such as this – meals where components can be prepared earlier. If your mornings are super-crazy, prep the night before when the kids are in bed.
Have a look at these brilliant morning hacks for working mums for more inspiration.
Develop a laundry schedule
The second biggest task after meal preparation, has got to be laundry. There was a time when I was adamant that the machine would always be full before we ran a load, but I’ve given up on that. Now I schedule in a wash 3 days a week, full load or not. It’s the only way to get through that laundry basket.
I’ve scheduled in reminders in my calendar to load and set the machine three mornings a week. My lovely machine has a timer function. I can load and set the timer so the load is complete 12 hours later (so I time it for when the bub has gone to bed). Such a simple task, but it really helps keep on top of the pile.
Clean the house in stages
A completely clean house at one given moment – forget about it! Learn to clean in stages.
So, I’ll clean the toilet at night, then clean the bath whilst I’m having my morning shower the next day. Hubby will do the floors that afternoon. It doesn’t need to be done all at once. Do whatever works for your family schedule.
Pile up the laundry on that chair – but schedule in one night a week when you put it all away. As long as you have some sort of schedule that will maintain a level of clean you’re happy with, it’s good enough.
Everything in its place
Once our son (aka tornado boy) is in bed, it takes approximately 5 minutes to ‘re-set’ the living area back to adultland – pack away all those toys, reset the sofa cushions and clear the dining table. It’s easy because everything has a place in our home. I can’t stress this enough, especially with kids and all their paraphernalia, every object must have a place it lives. If you can’t find a place for it, it’s time to start decluttering.10 family survival tips for when mum goes back to work #maternityleave #backtowork Click To Tweet
Adopt a ‘nothing to prove’ work attitude
Now that we’ve sorted out the home, lets have a think about work.
Now I know people are in all sorts of different work situations and environments, but I made a decision years ago that I would adopt a ‘nothing to prove’ work attitude.
I take pride in my work, but when the work is done, I am out of there in a flash. There is no sticking around to try and prove to bosses how busy I am or how dedicated I am. I believe that my work should speak for itself and I have nothing further to prove. Family time is simply more important.
Evaluate the quickest route home
My final tip sounds a little strange, but hear me out. My commute is 45 minutes door to door (any Sydney-sider will tell you this is impressive). I got it down this low because I evaluated what my quickest route home would be.
For example, the train may be quicker but I have to walk through horrid people-traffic to get to the station, crossing several traffic lights. The bus drops me off literally door-to-door, but it takes forever through peak-hour traffic. The tram is actually situated furthest away to my workplace, but through some Google-mapping and route planning, I can walk across to the station in 15 minutes, but it then gets me home in 25. Re-evaluate your commute. Even if you drive, check out alternative routes that may get you there and home quicker.
It’s only early days, but I’m really proud how we’ve come through this transition. I must admit, I have a super amazing husband that more than pulls his weight, so it’s definitely a team effort.
Do you have any tips on organising work/life schedules and balance? Leave us a comment below.