Hello Lucky Things. So it’s been a little while since a new blogpost has popped up. The weeks have flown by as I’ve been busy getting back into work life. Although it’s been tiring, I’ve got to say it’s been good moving into the next era of “working mummy with my new girl crew” (aka the two Munches). It was sad saying farewell to my last ever maternity leave. Seeing Baby Munch’s personality grow and having that extra time with Toddler Munch felt super precious. So after a busy 10 months, it’s time to start walking back into the office bright and early.
Not everything in life can be planned for but where possible I wanted to feel as organised as possible going back to work and especially as I now have two little girls (and myself) to get ready in the morning. A couple of months before heading back to the office I started thinking about what the new daily routine could look like and what might help. I also imagined how hectic it would be juggling two little ones and what I’d need to do to avoid rushing out of the house in my pyjamas! Nothing like worse-case scenario visualisation to motivate you to get things organised.
What’s my current set up with Baby Munch and Toddler Munch whilst I’m at work? They both go to the same nursery and it’s about a 5-10 minute walk away (depending on mode of transport and whether Big Munch fancies a walk next to her baby sister in the McClaren). Most days I’m in charge of nursery drop offs and pick ups each day and back at work part-time again. Having been back at work for 6 weeks now, it’s a good time to write this blogpost as I can share things that have really helped us to get ready for work and nursery.
So, here’s the first of my “7 Things” series (7 as it’s a lucky number of course). As I know a few other mums who are also getting their heads (and their hearts) around going back to work, I’ve pulled together 7 things that might help. I can’t pretend I’m an expert on any of these how-to series, so it will be good to share top tips from other working parents.
- A few nights before…Don’t leave it to the night before to get everything ready. If possible, get things ready a few nights before your first day of the working week.One of the best things about childrens’ parties is catching up with the other mums. It’s also a way of picking up new tricks to help us along our journeys as parents juggling little ones, looking after ourselves and our busy careers. A fellow nursery mum gave me this great tip. She said if your first working day of the week is a Monday, don’t leave it to a Sunday to get everything sorted for the week ahead. Try doing this on a Thursday night instead. She’s right, there’s no point leaving all the boring tasks for a Sunday in case the Sunday night blues kick in or you just want a bit of chill time once the little ones are snoozing away. So I have two washing and tumble dryer evenings in the week so most things are ready to be sorted into outfits on a Thursday night. Sorting clothes out on a Thursday night works out well for me as I don’t work on Fridays. There’s also a nice feeling about keeping your Sunday evening washing and folding-free!
- Outfit love…You’ve probably gathered by now I need to love what I wear whether I’m hanging out with the little ones or in the office. As well as prepping your little one’s outfits for the week ahead, don’t forget to prep your own (down to your accessories like tights or socks!). The less rummaging around you need to do in the morning the better! I’ve made sure a lot of my working wardrobe is now machine washable and less about dry-cleaning. I’ve got to love M&S for their stylish and colourful dresses which can be easily washed at home. I enjoy working out my outfits from head to toe; from earrings to my shoes. Sometimes it’s the colour of my shoes that ends up deciding the rest of the outfit! My work shoe collection is now stored at the office so I’m not transporting my heels back and forth everyday. My trusty Nike Roshes and new Stan Smiths are perfect for the commute. Flat brogues are another great option.Hooks on the back of my bedroom door help me to hang up a few outfits lined up for the week. For the little ones, their outfits for each day are kept in little boxes. Recently I’ve come up against the challenge of my toddler’s outfit indecision. She often changes her mind about what goes with what before we leave the house (wonder where she gets that from?) Some days, Big Munch refuses to wear the clothes in her daily outfit box, asking for cat leggings which are of course in the wash and let’s not forget her current anti-jeans policy. I’m afraid there won’t be much time for chopping and changing now I’m back at work my sweetie pie. So how have I been encouraging my 3 year old to feel ok about her chosen outfit? I show her the next day’s outfit at bedtime. Another top tip from a work mate is that it’s best to lay out their clothes the night before as mornings are not the best time to be negotiating which pair of tights little ones wish to wear!
- A new time to get up…I’ve had to accept that now I’m back at work and there’s a particular train to catch I have to get up an hour earlier. This felt hard as baby Munch had only started sleeping through a month before my return to work and so I’d finally been enjoying longer sleeps. If you need to get little ones ready in the morning too, it’s worth practising the new get up and get ready routine even a couple of weeks before you head back to work. Then you can tweak how you do things as you practice and try out new things to help. You can also re-focus on the essentials during get-ready time. It’s all about getting myself ready as much as I can before the little ones wake up.Obviously it’s hard to know when they will actually wake up and I’ve been caught out with some 5am wake ups recently. So I know I have a few things I need to do before they realise it’s the morning. As soon as I get up I try and do my make up and sneakily grab some cereal downstairs (as the two munches eat brekkie as soon as they get to nursery).I’ve managed to master my make up routine in a few minutes. Blusher is my saviour. Concealer and my MAC mineralise powder are critical. Mascara and eyeliner are a bonus if I have time.
I leave my work outfit by the stairs the night before and get the girls ready in my pyjamas so it doesn’t matter if they share any mess with me. Yes I have wondered if one day I will forget to put on my work clothes but hence leaving them in a place where I can’t miss them. As a back up I have another work outfit hanging up nearby.This helps with any last minute changes for me in case Baby Munch has a little accident! I also keep wipes, my trusty Skip Hop changing clutch and a spare outfit for Baby Munch by the front door in case she needs a last minute change.
- Weekly planning…If you don’t have a system already, make sure you’re up to date with what’s going on that week. Starting my day knowing what’s happening on other days makes me feel more organised. Are other carers in your house busy on certain days or maybe the little ones have appointments you need to juggle? If you’re able to get out in the evenings, is childcare all sorted? When is the online food delivery arriving? Are there any dressing up days at nursery? If you need to, jot down the week’s plans on a whiteboard near the kettle. I loved seeing this idea at my friend’s house where she had a nice chalkboard up in the kitchen (she has 3 kids and a job to look after!) Or if you’re techy use a Google shared calendar with your other-half. To compliment my iPhone to-do list I love visual reminders like post-its. I received this Lollipops Designs weekly planner for my birthday which will also help me to keep track of everyone’s plans that week like early work calls, our evening meal ideas and weekend play-dates.
- Accept help from others…Mornings may feel hectic so plan time in the week where you have help to look after parts of the little ones’ daily routine. Yes us parents and carers are of course super-heroes; we have one of the most difficult jobs in the world and as well as making sure we look after our little ones we also need to look after ourselves. Being at work can be equally hectic and not everyone gets to enjoy proper lunch-breaks. Plan some me-time for you to do something you enjoy. So accept any help that may be offered and don’t be shy about asking for help. You’re only trying to make sure important things are being looked after. Can parents take turns to get the little ones ready in the morning or ready for bed? Also if your partner or a grand-parent can help with a house chore allowing you to have some extra time with your little ones at the weekend, that’s pretty helpful too?
- Don’t be too hard on yourself…Finally, if things don’t go to plan or aren’t organised perfectly, winging it is just fine too! Us parents become masters of managing change. You may also suddenly be managing the guilty feeling of not being with your children during the day, managing a new workload at the office and managing an endless to-do list. Whether you’re a stay at home parent or a working parent, remember both bring different challenges.
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I’d love to hear about your own return to work tips and getting ready tricks if you have a free mo to leave a comment below.The more ideas the merrier when it comes to getting organised. Enjoy Lucky Things…