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Parenthood is a difficult task, as a first timer more so. Add to it, going back to work in a pandemic! Here are ten things that helped me going back.
I am a returning mother, joining the workforce, after a gap of six months. While I join back, I can feel a sea change in my life on both the personal and professional fronts like never before. Parenthood is a difficult task in itself, becoming a first timer even more so. And add to it, becoming a first-time parent in the times of corona, all of it is just unimaginable.
I remember talking to my returning colleagues a few years ago. They found coming back to work after maternity leave, challenging. Getting back to a professional mindset after several months, managing a support system so their baby is taken care of and juggling responsibilities at the office and home.
Having to find your footing back in your professional job while doing it under the current circumstances is an incomprehensible task. It is often a nightmare for most of the mothers. Quarantine or not, it’s multitasking for working moms, but this phase has made us the multitasking ninjas of doing the impossible.
Many parents, including the front-line workers, currently have no childcare options. Parents are juggling jobs and child care with an intensity that has never existed before. We are juggling managing kid’s snacks, snuggles, and screen time while working. And are also dealing with the waves of guilt that come with not doing it well.
Tasks that had been outsourced to schools, nannies/ daycare are now falling squarely on parents and disproportionately on mothers. Ironically, we are spending more time than ever with our kids but not how we had wanted it.
Having an infant during this pandemic has certainly brought more joy in my life but there were similar amounts of existential fear, sleeplessness too.
I think as a mother, I can speak on behalf of every mother – ‘None of us had planned to do it the way it is happening right now.’
In no way, can I reduce to stress on all the other working moms, however, here are some tips that helped me get back to work amidst the crisis.
Perhaps you have resumed virtually. Now you get to spend more time with your infant instead of commuting. You don’t have to drop your kid to daycare. And you can breastfeed instead of pumping. Look at the brighter side. Keep looking at it every day.
You need to sit down with the family members and re-negotiate the daily to-do list. Your partner and you can divide your caregiving responsibilities and work out a flexible plan. You can divide the entire day into two halves. Take up the caregiving responsibilities and office work according to you and your partner’s preferred slots.
Learn about all the work being done in your absence. Understand with your coworkers how things were done, the progress and the way forward. Video call is always better.
Take up small assignments and brush up your skills. It will boost your confidence. The key is to slowly build on those skills and then take on more work.
Go slow and transparently ask for support from team members.
Set up a virtual coffee date with a new parent who has returned to work. This is particularly helpful to understand how the new parent has adjusted to his/her routine. You could take notes on how to smoothly transition to work and manage at both ends.
Eat that frog for breakfast. Try to accomplish the most important/critical thing early in the morning. It will save you worrying about it the whole day.
Appreciate the skills you have learned/ honed after becoming a parent. Working moms are focused. They can delegate, adapt, and prioritise effectively. These are highly valuable traits in most careers. Be proud.
Try not to return to work alone. Involve your partner, family members. Or else it will burn you out. Take help from whatever source it is coming through.
Forgive yourself for things not happening the way they were planned. Remember you are currently sheltering in place waiting for this crisis to get over. Do not demand too much from yourself.
With different demands in all directions, it’s important to keep yourself healthy and centred. Don’t forget to take care of yourself in balancing everything else. And don’t be overly critical of yourself. Your emotional well-being is equally or more important than your career progression.
I wouldn’t have imagined finding myself at the end of both sides of the spectrum but here I am, juggling work and a hyper-curious baby. But I do have a supportive family and an equally supportive organisation. It does take a village to raise a child.
I hope this article helps someone looking for ways to balance both fronts. And I would love to connect with other parents who are bravely holding the fort, by going beyond their forte.
Tag the working moms – they are the real superheroes. Do share if there is anything you could suggest or add to the above points. There might be new parents looking for advice/suggestions.
A version of this was first published here.
Picture credits: Title image by Polina on Pexels
In article image provided by the author
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