In 2021, 45% of people worked remotely due to COVID-19. As more people get vaccinated you may start returning to work. For parents, this can be an adjustment, since you aren’t as easily available for your kids. So, follow these tips for returning to work this spring.
1. Check In With Your Emotions
For parents, going back to the office can be a big transition. You may have gotten used to a flexible schedule, allowing you to complete chores and eat family meals. As you make the transition back to the office, be patient and open-minded.
Lower your expectation that everything will feel normal right away. Keep in mind you may experience separation anxiety from your children. To help with this, set up pictures of your kids at your desk and plan family activities over the weekend.
2. Stay Organized
Now that you’re back in person, there are certain responsibilities you need to attend. For example, getting your kids ready for school or packing your work bag. Thinking about these things ahead of time saves you stress. The night before, do a practice run of getting your kids up for school.
Another key area is meal planning. With the pandemic, you had more time to prepare and eat family dinners. With less time after work, plan your meals for each week. This will save you time and reduce impulse purchases at the grocery store. Start by brainstorming on a Friday and use Sunday to prep any ingredients.
3. Connect With Your Children
When you go back to work, it’s harder to keep that constant connection with your children. They rely on you for emotional care as well as physical. So, there are simple things you can do to stay connected.
Add cute notes to their packed lunches or spend a few minutes with them in the morning. Give each child some one-on-one attention. If you drop them at school, use the car ride as a chance to bond. Also, on your lunch break send them a quick text message to let them know you’re thinking of them.
4. Be Open With Your Child
As you return to work, you will be spending less time with your kids, which could lead to separation anxiety. To help calm their nerves, have an open discussion with them. Reassure them you will still have plenty of time together and you can do fun things when you’re home. Plan engaging activities each week, such as going for walk or having a picnic.
5. Discuss COVID-19 Information With Your Kids
Check-in with your child to see what they hear about the virus. See what they have picked up from classmates and what they believe is true. Then dismiss any false information and give them accurate updates. Check sites, such as the Centers for Disease Prevention, for reliable data.
6. Prepare a Child Care Plan
Going back to work requires you to reconsider your current child care plan. Now that you’re not at home 24/7, you may need more help. There are multiple options, such as a daycare facility or leaving your child with a family member. If you choose to hire a nanny, set up COVID-19 protocols. These can include things like leaving shoes at the door and sanitizing doorknobs and cell phones.
Whatever method you choose, do a trial run first. For example, practice dropping your kid off at daycare on your off-day. That way you can get used to the feeling and ease some of your anxiety. Take the day to indulge in self-care, such as grabbing a quiet cup of coffee.
7. Get Support From Other Parents
Balancing childcare and work is challenging, so it’s important to get support from other parents who can relate. One way to do this is by starting a “working parents” group at your office. Another strategy is using online resources, such as social media or group websites. For example, Coronavirus Parents is a non-profit supporting parents during these uncertain times.
8. Schedule Time to Check-in With Your Caregiver
To feel comfortable being away from your children, set aside check-in times each day. During your break, briefly call your caregiver and make sure everything is going well. Some daycare facilities even send picture updates throughout the day. Talk with your provider to learn about their communication options.
9. Stay Away From Crowded Places at Work
Being around others leaves you vulnerable to COVID-19. However, there are precautions you can take, such as practicing social distancing. To do this avoid taking crowded elevators at work or spending lots of time in the break room.
The common area can easily get congested and people may not be wearing masks when eating. Also, the breakroom is filled with frequently touched surfaces, such as coffee pots. If you do touch these, wash your hands before getting back to work. Another social distancing tip is to limit your carpooling or public transportation use.
10. Sanitize Your Desk
To prevent the spread of germs, wipe down your desk regularly. Remember to clean your keyboard and mouse as well. It’s also a good idea to keep cleaning supplies, such as disinfectants, at your workstation. In addition, store some extra masks and hand sanitizer in your drawer. Then when you get home wash any reusable masks.
How to Return to Work This Spring
Being a working parent has its challenges especially in these times. Yet, there are ways you can balance going back to the office and childcare. Follow these tips for a successful return to work this spring.