Friday, October 23, 2009

Your first 12 months back at work

Let's face it, it's tough! We are instantly thrown into the work and family juggling act often without help and support. There is separation anxiety (more from mum!), mother guilt (isn't it relentless!), and then general guilt for not being at work because your child is permanently sick for the first 2-3 months of child care. And generally, there is even more guilt handed to you from your employer because you need to take time off to care for your child.

Take a deep breath - it will be ok. You cannot do this on your own so enlist the services of your partner to share parental responsibilities. Put a schedule on your fridge door. Conquer and divide chores such as food shopping, cooking, drop-off, pick-up, cleaning and washing.

Your child will pick up illnesses from child care but it won't last forever. What they catch now will make their immune systems stronger.

It is our view that employers are currently not providing enough support for working parents in their first 12 months back at work. Employers tend to breathe a sigh of relief on your return to work - it is assumed that everything will pick up from where it was left off. It will, but there is an adjustment period.

What can employers do to provide support? They can put into place a gradual return to work strategy (e.g. start with 2 days, then move to 3 days, then 4 days for example), and allow for more sick days in the early stages of child care. These are short term supportive measures that will pay long term dividends in the way of a happy, productive and loyal employee.

Talk to your employer about your return to work strategy. Open up the lines of communication and see what flows.

1 comment:

Sal said...

Great advice and some that I took on last week with my return to work luncheon with my employer. The key learning for us both is to keep talking - whats working and whats not.