A new working mum reveals how she kept sane when returning to her career.

All too often, we take on too much. Being busy isn’t badge-worthy, and you owe it to yourself to pursue a career that you love. It’s easy to imagine that our return to paid work could spell constant crisis management in the household that will impact on our job satisfaction. Or worse still, end up in stress, family conflict, and exhaustion. But this isn’t always the case!

Recently we spoke to CareerSmart Mum, Katrina, who has returned to paid work, to get some real-life advice on how to keep all the balls in the air. Without the stress.

Katrina has recently landed a job in marketing. “Working full time and managing a household is challenging, but the rewards of doing something you love are worth it.”

Katrina says that getting her family to take on more household tasks has been essential in keeping the household running. “After completing the CareerSmart Mums workshop, I did a checklist of all the things I did at home, and then we had a family meeting to decide who would take over responsibility for each task. I outsourced the cleaning, and I also now get the groceries delivered, but my husband and kids have taken over a lot of chores too.” With two children, aged 10 and 12, Katrina says the extra responsibility has helped them to learn new skills. “I think it’s given the kids a newfound sense of independence,” she says.

A big part of the household tasks Katrina identified involved picking up and dropping off the children to various activities. “Organisation has been key to staying on track. Each Sunday afternoon we sit on the verandah with cool drinks, planning out our week – it’s actually kind of a nice family activity! We draw up a little calendar that shows everyone’s activities and which parent will take them. Everybody gets a print out to put in their bag for the week so there’s no confusion.”

“With kids this age, there’s so much going on in the family calendar that sometimes we don’t get home until late in the evening, so I also cook meals ahead of time,” Katrina says. Her tip is to freeze them in ziplock bags so they don’t take up much room in the freezer. “Sometimes I cook with the kids, and that makes less of a chore and more of a fun activity together.”

Here’s our top tips for return to work mums:

  • Ask your family for help running the home. Do a task audit and give everyone specific responsibilities.
  • Outsource what you can. Think of the money you’ll be earning – can you put some of this towards reducing household stress?
  • Spend time together as a family each weekend to schedule the week ahead so that you stay organised and in control.
  • Cook meals ahead of time. Spend an afternoon cooking with the kids to get a stock of dinners in the freezer. You could try this quick and easy recipe we found over at Families Magazine.

We recently developed a Household Task Audit to help busy families to assess who’s doing what and the time involved. It’s great for working out if anything needs to change for mum to return to work or can really help with the transition once you have secured a new role. If like Katrina you’d like help getting your career back on track, come and join the CareerSmart Mums community. Find out more at www.careersmartmums.com.au.