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Tips on balancing work with being a mum

Making the decision to return to work sometimes seems like the easy part. It’s when you’re dashing out to buy nappies in your lunchhour and worrying that the bus will never come in time to get to the childminder’s that the reality can hit home.Yes, it can seem like a constant juggling act between family and work, particularly in those first few months. But you’ll soon find a routine that works for you and your child. And being a working mum also has huge benefits, not least to your family’s finances and to your self-esteem.

Here are our top 10 tips for how to enjoy the return to work
Organise childcare you’re happy with

If you’re worrying about your child’s health and happiness while you’re at work, there’s no way you’ll be able to do your job properly. If you’re lucky enough to have a support network of family and/or friends living nearby, make an informal agreement that you can call on them to help if your child’s ill.

Don’t bother reading pointless news stories

Based on ‘latest research’ and blaming working mothers for damaging their child’s health/intelligence/long term prospects. That one way of feeling unnecessary guilt. These are the two things that matter: you know why you’re working and your children know you love them.

Carry a photo of your kids in your purse or have one on your desk, so you can look at it and remember why you’re working so hard.

On a similar note, don’t bother feeling envious of your friends who don’t work. There are times when they’d probably gladly swap places with you.

Delegate and, if necessary, train your other half to do more around the house

Don’t think he will work out what’s making you cross or what needs to be done. He won’t. He will just watch TV while you cook tomorrow’s meal, put on two loads of washing, do the ironing and sort out trip money for your child. After you explode he will say in tones of hurt bewilderment: ‘Well, why didn’t you say, I’m not a mind reader.’ Don’t think it’s easier or quicker to do it yourself; it’s not in the long run.

Get organised

Leave as little as possible to the manic mornings: pack yours and your children’s bags and get children’s clothes and your own clothes ready the night before. Buy enough school clothes and children’s socks and underwear so you’re not a slave to the washing every evening. Try to avoid dry-clean only clothes for yourselves or ones that need ironing. Get a hair style that looks good with minimal care.

Give yourself a break

It doesn’t matter if your home’s not immaculate and your children aren’t fed super-nutritious, cooked-from-scratch food every day.

‘Be kind to yourself. Everything gets done eventually.’

‘I’m something to so many people and can only do what I can do.’ Rosie l

Shop for food in bulk and plan a weekly or more menu.

Cook double and freeze half for an easy second meal a week or more later.

Pay all bills by direct debit.

Remembering to pay home bills is the one important thing that can easily slip to the bottom of your to-do list.

Try to draw a clear line between work time and family time. If you’re rushing to the school gates, day care or nursery, try and give yourself a few minutes breathing space before you have to switch into mum mode.

‘If you work part time, state your working days on the bottom of your email.’

Don’t let yourself always come last to children, partner, work, home

You’re important, so make yourself a priority. It’s not selfishness, it’s self-preservation. Whether it’s sitting down to watch your favorite programme, going out with the girls or simply having time for a long soak in the bath, make sure you factor in time for yourself and the things you enjoy. This is especially important at weekends when you may feel tempted to catch up on all the jobs you’ve fallen behind with during the week, between time spent ferrying children to parties and classes or seeing relatives you feel you should.

Cherish the good things about working (besides the obvious financial ones).

It could be something as simple and everyday as having a good laugh with work mates, drinking a coffee without having a small child clamouring to eat the chocolate on top, having your boss praise you or simply having five minutes to read your book on the train.

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