Preparations involving other people, and especially small people, have a habit of not always going as we'd like them to. It can be hard and stressful to get babies and small children out of the house in the morning (washed, fed and dressed) and into nursery on time so that you can catch the train. The same applies when you know you need to leave on time to go home but you're feeling bad about leaving before your colleagues, or one of them is being demanding. Many new parents quickly find themselves into a kind of relentless eat, sleep, work, repeat cycle when juggling work and small children. So this is where it's important to keep your plans and expectations under review and ensure that your personal needs are also being met.
- Am I expecting too much of myself, my baby or my partner at this stage?
- Am I being sufficiently firm/flexible/assertive (as appropriate) with work?
- Am I placing unreasonable demands on my partner? Is s/he placing unreasonable demands on me?
- Am I getting enough rest and relaxation to maintain my health and well-being?
- Am I getting enough space and time to give my baby the attention s/he and I need?
- Is this arrangement working well enough for us as a family? If not, what needs to change?
In our ongoing maternity leave survey we have gathered lots of excellent advice and information from mums about their parental leave and going back to work. (We'd love your advice and thoughts too - see here for the short survey). Their responses are overwhelmingly consistent:
1. Take care of yourself - don't worry about being super mum/housewife/partner/employee. In other words - good enough is good enough.
2. Manage your work-life balance boundaries - set these clearly and firmly from the beginning of your leave period and on the return to work, and stick to them.
3. Maintain your self-confidence - keep mindful of who you are, what you do and the value you add.
To achieve these you need to take consistent, planned action.
Your plan should include the what, when, how and who questions, for example:
- how your baby's care needs will be consistently and well met
- what will happen when your baby is unwell or otherwise unable to go to nursery/day care
- how domestic and family activities and chores will be carried out, when, and by whom
- how you will ensure rest and relaxation time with your family, partner and friends gets the space and time it needs
Periodically, take a wider view and "check in" with yourself - is this working/living arrangement working for you and your family? Does it need amending to ensure that you are all happy and fulfilled?
Our parental leave coaching programmes provide structured support and development for mums and dads about to go on parental leave. To discuss how we can support parents-to-be in your organisation, get in touch - firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01223 655667.