Today, many parents are information-rich/experience-poor. Books and blogs leave us believing that we already know how to do things when we haven’t actually done them. As you head back to work for the first (second or third) time, remember that you have never done this before.
One way to ease this gigantic transition is to give yourself permission to be inexperienced. Set yourself up for success and know that the process of mastery involves many stumbles (where the learning actually happens). It could take many months for the new situation to feel comfortable for everyone in the family.
Remember to pause for vision. Determine the goals for yourselves as parents and for your children along with the values that are important to your family.
Expectations will vary for every family. Some ideas might be:
- We will give our family three months to settle into this new routine before we decide whether it is working
- When we sit down to eat as a family, we will not answer the phone (even if the boss calls)
- It’s ok if we only get to cleaning the (fill in the blank) every other week instead of weekly
- I won’t let parental guilt stop me from following through on a limit/consequence I set for my child—making excuses for my child does not help her in the long run
- I can work with my child to help her create a new script for saying goodbye at the daycare
With values as your starting point, and a vision of your goals (for the month or the decade), you still need a plan of how to get there (in home, work and family life). Be realistic about what you can and can’t do:
- Invite others to contribute to your new routine
- Let go of some personal expectations and see if you can budget for help to be hired
- Create routines for the family so that the little ones have predictability around heading to and from childcare
- Prepare your script: “It’s ok for us to feel sad—this is a big change. I know that we’re doing the right thing. The adults here will keep you very safe and I know that you can find the courage to stay here, and feel comfortable.” If you can’t say this script with confidence, it’s time to revisit the values and the vision for your family.
We’ll be happy to help you parent with a plan—come find us at parentingpower.ca and leave your questions on our Facebook page.
Julie Freedman Smith and Gail Bell provide tools for real life parenting through their company, Parenting Power™. Using over 40 years of combined experience, they work with parents across the country through telephone coaching and teleconferences to ease the stress and guilt of parents while providing practical solutions to everyday parenting challenges. Visit www.parentingpower.ca
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