After a long period of working from home and having more family time together, returning back to the office means having to cope with changes. This transition includes adjustments in routines, and often, our emotional and mental mindsets too.
As more parents head back to office more frequently or even permanently, are you finding it difficult to help your kids cope with the change?
Here are some ways to help kids cope when mummy and/or daddy need to return back to the office:
#1: Allow ample time to prepare your child
Start talking to them about your returning back to the office early; avoid keeping it to the eleventh hour. While we adjust to waking up earlier to prep and commute, our kids will experience changes in their routines too. They probably wouldn’t be able to have lunch and tea break with mummy and daddy, and that’s just one of the changes they need to gradually accept. Share with them how the new routine will be, what to expect and what to look forward too.
Be mindful about making empty promises too, if in reality, it might be difficult depending on your schedule e.g. I’ll be back to have dinner with you every day. Assure them on things that are certain e.g. you’ll kiss them at bedtime. Kids feel safer when they know what to expect, and that helps them manage their emotions better when you leave in the morning.
#2: Speak about going back to the office in a positive tone
Work stress and unhappiness at work is common and normal. However, you may wish to keep such sharing with your spouse, instead of your kids. Sharing about returning back to the office in a positive, casual tone helps your children understand that you are coping well with the changes too. Similarly, this helps kids cope better when parents return to the office.
#3: Introduce kids to their new caregivers early
One of our biggest concerns as working parents, is to have a trusted adult who can look after our children when we are at work. These days, we have more caregiving options, ranging from childcare to grandparents, hiring a nanny to babysit or even employing a domestic helper.
If it’s a new preschool, involve your child in school tours so he can get familiar with the new environment and the idea of having teachers and friends. There are ways to prepare your child for his first school too! If grandma, nanny or a domestic helper will be taking care of kiddo, have them at your place to interact and bond with your child so they can build trust and familiarity. Ensure that they are familiar with your child’s daily routine to minimise disruptions.
When it comes to planning for your finances, did you know that working mums can claim the Foreign Domestic Worker Levy Relief (FDWL)? The Singapore Government is also extending support with infant care and childcare subsidies for families.
#4: Make time for your child when you are at home
It’s easy to get in the full swing of work as adults. But when back at home, remember that the little ones haven’t seen you all day, and naturally, clamour for your attention.
Be intentional about spending quality time with them – one-on-one time with each kid, where possible. Tell them that you missed them, share what you ate for lunch, snippets of conversations with your colleagues… such conversations give them a glimpse of your workday. Likewise, ask them what their favourite activity at school was, what they had for snack at home/in school, or which book they read today.
Engage in play, snuggles and plenty of cuddles! Afterall, Dr. Gary Chapman points that there are 5 love languages of children so assure them that they are very loved even if you don’t get to see them in the day.
#5: Keep goodbyes short and sweet
Separation anxiety is common especially for toddlers and young children. Hey, it happens for adults too! When you’re at the door and about to leave for the office, give your kids a tight hug, kisses and say, “See you later!”. If you’re dropping your kids off at school or a grandparents’ place, do the same. Keep it brief and be ready to start your workday on a positive note!
I hope these tips will come in useful to help kids cope when parents return to the office. As with various roles in our lives, parenthood can be challenging. As we juggle work, our own life goals and doing our best as parents, let’s support each other on our journey! For more mum hacks and tips on financial planning, insurance or retirement planning, feel free to reach out to me so I can support you further.