Balancing home and work life can be tricky, never more so than for new parents. Yuliana Topazly elaborates.
Becoming a parent might be one of the most challenging, and rewarding, steps in your life. It can also be very stressful. One in 10 women develops a mental health illness within the first year of having a baby and doesn’t get diagnosed, while 88% of parents suffer from stress-related issues.
It is therefore important to put a little planning in to your transition from career woman to full time mother. If you can do this, you’ll find life easier and less stressful. Here are the 11 key secrets I have learned, which will make the transition enjoyable and far less stressful:
- Look for parenting networks and local groups. Your workplace may also have a network for parents and careers. Take full advantage of it. These networks can be virtual or physical. It is important to talk about your challenges, share experiences, listen to other people going through the same journey, and learn from each other. By connecting, you will know you are not alone – and what you are going through is completely normal.
- Do not be afraid to share your feelings with your family and/or your GP. Locking your feelings inside will make you more isolated, vulnerable and stressed. Instead, take action immediately to prevent any further complications. Talking things through can help to ensure you get the support you need at home or from your doctor. Engage with your local support group and support organisations.
- Having a baby is an amazing feeling but it can also be overwhelming. Often parents give all their time and energy to their baby and don’t realise that if they do get over-tired, exhausted, and stressed they will not be able to offer that meaningful loving time to their baby going forward. Don’t let yourself burn out – take some ‘me’ time. This is essential; ensure you use the time to relax and reflect.
Also, take an interest in the world outside your baby. Stay in touch with what is happening in the world and how it impacts you.
- Reflection is a very powerful tool. I recommend asking yourself three questions everyday: What have I learnt today? How did I feel about it? What was I really proud of today? Answering these questions helped me with my own exploration and kept me positive and focused. I am still using this technique every day.
- Prioritise childcare arrangements that you are happy with. Don’t compromise. Nothing is worse than constantly worrying about your child while you aren’t with them and jumping when you hear the phone ring. You want your child to be happy and you need to be able to concentrate on what you need to do during the time when your child is in childcare. The introduction of 30 hours free childcare is a huge help to many working parents – so make sure you apply in advance if you are eligible. You can research qualifying providers on your local council’s website.
- Engage with your local children’s centres. It made a huge difference to my life and my daughter’s life. I have learnt baby massage, parenting skills and techniques I can use to support my daughter; and I met new friends. I discovered local support organisations and gained access to a post-natal depression support group, which helped me to start my journey to recovery.
- Learn a new skill; take an online course, start something you always wanted to but never had time to do. For example, I have mastered social media skills while in the transition and it added huge value to my CV and to my confidence. Now I’m using those skills every day as a part of my business and professional life.
- Keep an eye on your finances. When you have a baby your financial circumstances change – there are more expenses, and probably less money coming in. So, you need to budget carefully. New parents need to understand their entitlements and how best to manage their family budget. There are some very useful online calculators, which can help you to know what it will mean to go back to work (in relation to benefits, childcare etc.) and what you can apply for to gain additional support.
- Enjoy the experience. Having a child is hugely rewarding. And, when you are ready to go back to work, remember that you were employable before you had a baby and you are even more employable now as you have learnt so many new skills: including active listening; giving your full attention and ignoring interruptions; reflecting on your own performance; strong prioritising skills; and improved collaboration and persuasion skills.
- When you go back to work, you need to ensure it is right for you; the right time, the right environment, with the right support from your employer, and the right work-life balance. Ask your employer for flexible options and make sure you understand them.
- Don’t feel guilty. Some parents, including myself, felt guilty when going back to work – guilty that I left work and was out of the loop, and guilty that I was leaving my daughter. This is normal. Remember you are coming back with new skills, a fresh approach and as an extremely organised individual. Hold your head high – and don’t be ashamed that you are a parent.
By following the advice above you reduce your stress, increase your enjoyment and improve your skills – all at the same time – making you exactly the sort of employee any good business would want.
About the author
Yuliana Topazly is founder of BuddyWith.org.uk – a supportive community of parents and experts who are there to help each other, offer advice, and share experiences. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BuddyWithMum/ Twitter: @BuddyWithMum LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/yuliana-seymour-topazly-27a3454/