Tips for transitioning from work life to home life as a working parent
Date: 13 May 2015
As a working parent with a workplace nursery, I find myself to be in the extremely fortunate position of having access to high-quality care literally a stone’s throw from my office. My daily commute to work includes no more than an additional minute walk between the nursery door and my office door, and I am able to maximise my time with my child. From singing nursery rhymes (and of course ‘Let it Go’, a Frozen classic) each morning to having lots of interesting, deep and not to mention hilarious conversations about film characters and friends, the additional time with my child is wonderful.
There is however a compromise to be made from this. As the nursery is so close, my family’s childcare responsibilities sit entirely with me and I find myself transitioning from ‘work mode’ to ‘family mode’ at a moment’s notice. I’ve found myself envious of my partner too, who takes the train to work and has a few minutes to read, listen to music and often just stop and pause.
After much thought, I’ve included a few ideas below on how to make the transition between work life and home life as efficient as possible.
I often find myself leaving work hungry, especially after eating my lunch earlier in the day. A cereal bar, fruit or light snack makes a huge difference, teamed with a bottle of water or a cup of coffee for those extra-long days! I also try to make sure I bring a bottle of water for my little one too, for the journey home.
Not being sure what the plan is for each evening has a great impact and I often find myself worrying or trying to prepare in the car. Planning ahead is great – from the evening meal and bath time, to specific events and activities. It takes the stress away from my evening and allows me to relax, with lots more time to chat and have fun!
Making a ‘to do’ list
Sometimes, we all find ourselves thinking about work outside of our office hours although often, these thoughts are not urgent and can stop us from shutting off. Try to avoid work thoughts at home and let your mind transition to home life. At times when we need to pick-up some additional work after hours, create a ‘to-list’ and spend your time widely. It becomes much easier to plan your time and to let go of work for the day.
Prepare for the transition
Although the nursery door is only moments away, making the journey to the car first is important to prepare myself for the transition. I drop off my work bag and laptop, organise the snacks and drinks, and tidy up the toys to make sure they’re easily reachable. I can focus then on getting myself and my little one home in complete comfort (a pair of trainers or comfortable shoes are also great for the journey, along with a couple of hair elastics!)
Allow yourself a minute or two
Although it’s tempting to rush straight from work to nursery, I find myself now spending just a couple of minutes composing myself. On particularly busy days, taking a quick walk round the office or carpark can really take the edge off the day and enables me to head to the nursery engaged, excited and ready to chat and play. Arriving two minutes later to collect my little one from nursery doesn’t feel as challenging as I once thought!