Women Returners Network :: Returning to Work - Tips on how to manage work and home life

Returning to Work - Tips on how to manage work and home life


Quote from Joy MacMillan, Chief Executive WRN

 “Balancing work and home life, managing personal energy levels and coping with the cultural transition from the world of family to the world of work are probably the biggest challenges women returners face.  The thing to remember though is that it is only a transition phase.  Once women get their back-up systems in place and find their feet again at work, work and life gets much more rewarding”.

Tips for women returners

  •  Manage your boss: if don’t have a good manager, try to manage back-to-work support yourself. Ask for a regular meeting to eg identify training needs, sort out problems quickly. A short meeting, with no interruptions, is generally much better than a quick, ‘How are you doing?’ conversation in the corridor.  Explain you only need to meet for a short period, say three months. And don’t feel guilty, sound apologetic about asking for the time. Remember it’s in their interests and the organisation’s to get you up and running in the job as quickly as possible.

  • Ensure your part-time job comes with a part-time workload: if you’re still struggling after a couple of months either you have a training need or the job is too big.  Raise with manager.

  • Respect your child carer:  because good childcare is a working parent’s greatest asset. Ring if you’re delayed, show your appreciation for their work, ask regularly how the arrangement is working for them, set up emergency childcare cover  with friends, family

  • Get organised: think about your home life as you do your job: to make the early morning dash more bearable, eg sort out clothes, prepare baby food, get workbag ready the night before; plan meals ahead for week (so you don’t come back from work tired and have think about what to cook), also buy a ‘quick meals’ cookbook or cook in bulk;  buy all food, clothes, presents  online or mail order; merge work and family dates in one diary so your important meeting doesn’t clash with Johnny’s play; find a ‘home’ for eg keys, credit cards, socks, dirty washing

  • Share the load: ensure children, partner have chores too; if possible, get help with cleaning, send out ironing – at least until you get accustomed to work

  • Invest in easy dressing: buy a few machine washable lycra suits that can withstand rigours of eg baby sick, upturned cereal bowls; look for non-iron, easy- iron clothes for yourself, family

  • Look after yourself: build a ‘supporters club’ at home and work, eg a few working mums you can talk to, have a laugh with about times when life and work seem too much, give yourself a treat every week eg a facial, a long bath, a new book, DVD; plan some family and ‘couples’ treats so whole family benefits from your return to work; get a pedometer – you may be doing those 10,000 steps already; get one early night a week, snack on dried fruit, nuts rather than crisps; see treats as necessities, not indulgences, for keeping  your energy levels high 

Finally remember that even the best routines get broken, even the most organised person has chaotic days.  Constantly remind yourself why you are returning to work and why it’s the right decision for you and your family.

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