Adjusting to life with a baby once you’re both back to work

Have you and your partner already handled those first utterly exhausting newborn days (and nights)? You’re awesome! Made it through one of you returning to work? Amazing! And now are you ready to make the transition to both of your returning to the workplace? Um… not so confident? Sure, in some ways this will be another big change, but if you’ve made it through those difficult early days, you can totally tackle this too. A few tips that can help you handle this change with ease:

Make sure you’re clear on responsibilities and who does what

Now that both you and your partner are returning to the workplace, this is when you’ll really want your household to be run like a well-oiled machine – or as close as you can get to that while still in this early stage of parenthood. You don’t want to aim for perfection, but rather for being, oh, as efficient as possible, given that this whole baby thing is still pretty hard.

This will be the time when you and your partner will want to be clear on details of childcare. Does Baby need to be dropped off at daycare at a certain time? If the babysitter is sick one day, will one of you stay home or do you have an alternative childcare situation set up? Who will bring Baby to his pediatrician appointment next Wednesday? And exactly when will you leave work to get home for dinner and bedtime rituals?

This might be a great time to setup a shared family calendar with just these sort of details, whether in hard copy or a digital version. You’ll also want to know who is tackling what household responsibilities and may even want to make a list of tasks so you know just who will do the laundry, the dishes, meal prep, grocery shopping – the list could go on! While setting up your family calendar, you may even want to create a formal list of this sort of stuff too, so you can be clear on who is making the seafood paella next Friday and who’s going to pick up the shrimp and veggies. As you do so, keep in mind what needs to be done, who prefers to do what, and who is capable of doing what. Communication will be key as your work out all these nitty gritty details.

Be flexible and open to making changes

Keep in mind that there may be a little bit of readjusting that needs to take place as time goes on. Household needs may change and what works one month might not work the next month – when Baby’s nap times change, when you have to travel for a big meeting, or when your partner has to pick up an extra shift. All that great communication you put into action when figuring out all of your household needs and responsibilities will help you here too – as you rework your schedule, reassess what you thought would work but isn’t actually working, and then make plans for how to move forward. Be honest, open, and flexible too.

Make time for each other

Amidst all this planning – in combination with the fact that both of you are now tackling parenthood and work – it can be very easy for your own needs to drop to the bottom of that to-do list. But you’ll want to make sure that you find time to connect with your partner in ways that don’t have anything to do with making a shopping list or mapping out a babysitting calendar. After all, the fact that you enjoy each other’s company is what led to Baby joining your family in the first place – so do what you can to carve out some quality time together.

Maybe this means enlisting a babysitter for a date night out once a month or – when even that seems too hard to make happen – a date night in once Baby is asleep. Shut off your phones and snuggle while you watch a movie. Break out an old board game and a bottle of wine. Or put on a favorite album and cook a new meal together. These are little things, but prioritizing them will make a big difference in helping you feel like you’re not just a parent and not just an employee. Yes, you’re those things too, but you’re also part of a meaningful romantic partnership that brings you a lot of joy.

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