A career moms guide to coping

In September 2012 I faced a difficult decision: to return to the work force or stay home with my one year old daughter. I wasn’t sure of the consequences of either of these decisions. I opted to return to work on a part-time basis. That way I could return to the career I enjoy and still spend time with my kids. I also have a seven year old son at home although he is in school while I am at work. I braced myself for the challenges that lay ahead with the decision I had made.

The road is never smooth and there are always bumps, let me tell you.  In my experience I find the more prepared and aware you are the better your experience will be. Here are a few tips which have helped me succeed in being a mom and returning to the work force.

Develop a Routine

Right before I knew I was due to return to work I came up with a routine. I gave myself enough time in the morning to make sure things would run smoothly and I gave it a trial run the week before.  I also established an after school routine as well. Always allow yourself more time than you need.

Establish a Back-up Plan

Someone getting sick is inevitable. Most of the time it is your kids especially being the school and daycare age. Your daycare provider will most likely battle the illnesses during the flu and cold season as well. So it is a good plan to have some back-up daycare plans if this happens. It is also a good idea to network with other parents and friends if you ever need a hand with the morning and afternoon school pick-up’s and drop-off’s.

Be Focused

Try to not let your work and your home life mix. Easier said than done I know. At work focus on the tasks at hand and tell yourself everything that needs to be done at home or after school can wait. It may be hard when you first return to work and it might seem like it will always be hard, but once you adjust to being back to work it all just falls into place. Another tip for staying focused is to write things down in an agenda or on your smartphone. Make sure you make a habit of checking it! This will help you to not forget anything whether it be work or home related.

Take Time for Yourself

There are many ways you can accomplish this. I find going for an hour long walk in the evenings helps me get out and take a few minutes to myself to relieve some stress. The fresh air is great and getting the exercise is even better. I find this helps me stay focused and stress free during the days. Reading at night is something I enjoy doing as well.

These are just a few things in my personal experience I have found helpful in coping. There will always be days of tiredness and stress but those days become farther and further between as your kids get older and more independent and things become more routine.  So reward yourself on your accomplishments and that will put a smile on your face.

Danielle Gaudreault