Before returning back to work, you may have had high hopes that the adjustment would be an easy one. For some parents, thankfully, it’s a pretty smooth transition. But for many others, it’s easy to feel a little adrift and out of sorts immediately after returning, and this feeling might last for some time. Given all that’s on your plate right now, having a little trouble adjusting totally makes sense, but it doesn’t mean the feeling is welcome. So just how can you find your footing again?
It will take a while for things to start to feel “normal” once you’re back on the job. Certainly, it helps to be getting regular rest, to have adjusted to a semi-normal schedule with a baby who’s still quite a long way from having a regular routine, and to feel like you’ve caught up on any major work stuff you may have missed out on following Baby’s birth – but it can take a while to get to this point.
At this stage of the game, you may be finally starting to feel more like yourself back at work and like you have a better sense of just what this whole working parent thing might mean. And then again, you may very well still feel out of sorts. Some parents might reach a place that feels like a new “normal” a few months in, and for others it takes several more months or even well into a year.
You need time to adjust to all the new responsibilities and routines in your life, and it’s not easy. In some ways, you might know you’ve reached this point when it feels a bit like you finally have your head above water and can breathe a little more easily. It’s different for everyone, so be patient. And keep in mind that when you reach a place that feels a little more stable it will be a whole new normal – things just can’t be quite the same as they were before now that Baby is in your life. If you’re not yet at this point yet, know that it takes time to get there, and it’s okay.
Don’t make any big changes
When life is feeling chaotic and you’re stretched to the max, it can be easy to think that you need to make some major changes and you need make them immediately. This is also a totally natural reaction – you just want to find a solution to a life situation that feels a bit out of control. It’s not uncommon for parents – especially on tough days – to think, Should I quit? Should I stay home with my baby? Should I find a new job? Some parents might find that they ask themselves these questions even when it’s not a financially viable option.
But keep in mind that it’s probably not advisable to make any major changes right now. Baby may not be brand new and you may even have been back at work for some time, but you’re still very much in the thick of things and so much of your life is still in flux. So again, wait until it feels like the dust has settled and you’ve found your footing in this wild new world of working parenthood – then you should be able to consider the situation a bit more clearly.
And when you reach that point, you may very well be immensely happy that you held off on making any major changes – many parents are!
Consider small changes you can implement to make your life easier
Again, beyond upending your work life in major ways, you might consider what small changes you can implement that will make life easier for you and your family. It may not be the best time to make any major changes in your life – Baby joining the family is a change that’s major enough – but shifting smaller things around can help you and your partner to accommodate the bigger forces in your life, like parenting, your family, your home, and your job.
Do you think it would be helpful to try to negotiate for more flexible hours at work if you’re feeling stressed about how your work hours stack up against Baby’s daily routine? Maybe your partner can take on daycare drop-off, or maybe you can set up a recurring order for diapers to be delivered to your home. Perhaps it would help to pick up takeout guilt-free on nights when you happen to work later than planned. Or maybe it’s as simple as making peace with the fact that the laundry sits out for a little bit longer than it used to before getting folded and put away.
It takes time to find your new normal
These small changes – in routine and perspective – can help you feel like you have a little more control. Take things a day at a time, and soon enough you should feel like your new normal is one that works for you.