Originally published on Romper and republished here with permission.
I have to admit, my partner started suggesting I return to work well before I was actually ready to say the words.
Financially, it was something our family needed, and by the time I was ready to go back to work, I was definitely ready for him to say any number of these things every grown-ass man says when hearing “I’m ready to go back to work.”
From “Awesome!” to “Let me make you some lunch to take to work,” I was grateful that my partner had at least a few of the “perfect” responses.
Whether you take a few months or a few years, going back to work after becoming a parent is no small undertaking. You have 100% more responsibilities that tend to take over at least half of your brain at any given moment.
Letting them go in order to focus fully on work is a task that takes a certain amount of getting used to. Having a partner on board with making that transition as smooth as possible can make all the difference.
I headed back to work a few weeks ago and would likely have been ready around the time my daughter turned one.
The new routine is slowly forming, although it does feel like a more intense marathon than the daily life of being a stay-at-home mom. My routine getting ready to head to work now involves an entire other human!
Luckily, my partner and I have had useful conversations about what allows all the moving pieces to flow together so that we can all get to where we need to go (and be relatively on time).
Lead with this, for sure. I mean, unless your partner gave birth a week ago, in which case it might be more of a cry for help and you should maybe proceed with caution.
Support, first and foremost, is what a parent who’s decided they’re ready to go back to work needs.
2. ‘How Can We Work Together to Make This Work?’
After initial excitement, move on to working together to make it happen. What are the best ways to make it work for your family? Does someone need to go part-time in order to make it work?
3. ‘Let’s Talk Finances’
Annoyingly, sometimes it both parents working doesn’t make total financial sense.
And sometimes a mama loves her job so much that it doesn’t matter that paying for daycare means you only break even. However, considering the options for who stays home and what that means for your finances is important.
4. ‘Who’s Going to Take Care of the Mini-Human?’
I wouldn’t lead with this because there might not be a way to keep the edge of expectation that they stay home out of the question, but it’s a valid question that bears a thoughtful conversation.
If you have talked about what the plan might be previously, it might not even be necessary. But if your partner announces they’re ready to head to work and you haven’t had that discussion, now’s the time.
5. ‘I’ll Pack You a Lunch’
Going back to work after having a baby (or adopting one, even) is a big change.
Even if you were only away from work for a few months, work after having a baby is a different ballgame all together. My partner offering to take a little of the edge off is absolutely appreciated.
A partner who understands that getting ready for work is now a full-on marathon when it used to take an hour tops is thoughtful and considerate.
6. ‘Do You Need Back-to-Work Supplies?’
You might not need a new stapler, but you might be in need of a few new duds to make you feel reasonably polished on the days you roll into work with spit-up down your shoulder.
7. ‘I’ll Take Bath Time’
Figuring out how to divide and conquer with potentially two parents at work and a tiny human to take care of is half the battle. Offering to take on bath or bedtime is a welcome relief a few days a week.
8. ‘You’re a Rock Star!’
Encouragement on the back end is appreciated as well. Let your partner know that they’re a super star taking on the working world post-baby. They’d be a rock star if she stayed home as well, but you can’t go wrong with extra encouragement at any point in a post-baby world!
Emily Westbrooks is freelance writer and blogger from Maine, previously in Dublin, now in Houston. Emily is wife to an Irishman and mama to Maya.