Work-life balance after Elternzeit

Your baby is now a toddler, your Elternzeit is ending soon and you’re ready to go back to work. But you’re probably wondering how you can make it work. Will you be able to create a good work-life balance? In this post, I want to share my best tips to ensure a good work-life balance for your child and you.
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Work life balance

Introduction

Returning to work after Elternzeit is a big transition

I have heard questions from many parents about how realistic is it to start working again with a toddler or baby at home. 

For international parents without a strong support system in Germany through grandparents or other relatives, managing work and childcare responsibilities can seem daunting. But if you carefully plan it, communicate properly with your support sytem and employer, and a proactive approach, it is possible to make a smooth transition in this new phase of your life. 

If you are looking for expert guidance via job coaching on your work-life balance, check out my programs for job coaching for mothers.

Planning your return to work

I would suggest that you make a plan as soon as possible with your partner. This includes kita options for your child, so get started on your research for a kita spot as soon as possible. Communication is key: talk to your partner about sharing responsibilities, household chores and whatever else you need.

The next thing you can do is to speak to your employer about returning to work. Discuss your situation and manage expectations. In Germany, many parents return to work in part-time, which means between 20-35 hours per week instead of directly going back at 40 hours a week. This is a good option for maintaining flexibility and easing into this new phase of your life. 

You can also use the option of Elterngeldplus to extend your Elternzeit and continue working part-time. If you want more information about this, please check out my Elterngeld tutorial.

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Options for childcare when returning to work

If you are planning to return to work, even part-time, while your baby is at home, this might be challenging but not impossible. Your child won’t let you work and will constantly demand your attention, which is understandable. Once you accept this reality, you will find it a bit easier to manage. You need to make a plan and a lot of flexibility to work while your child sleeps, which can mean early mornings and late evenings at the desk.  If you know you won’t have a kita spot, it’s crucial to start planning well in advance. Begin by researching alternative childcare options, such as private daycares, nanny services, or shared childcare arrangements with other parents in similar situations. Explore local online communities, parenting groups, and social media platforms where you can connect with other parents who might be facing similar challenges. Nowadays, many parents co-work together. Read this article if you are struggling to find a kita spot or want to understand your options better. In Berlin, you also have a wonderful co-working space with childcare, JuggleHUB, with trained staff to take care of your children while you work.  If you’re lucky and have a kita spot by the time your Elternzeit ends, you might have other issues! Once they start kita, children often fall ill because they get exposed to germs and viruses from other children. So this is another thing you will have to plan for. 

Mom guilt

Getting back to work can be overwhelming, especially if you have been on a long Elternzeit. Chances are, you will feel guilty about leaving your child at daycare, guilty about dividing your time between work and your family. This is normal. 

In a survey I did online, however, most mothers started to feel a lot more normal once they started working again, more like their old selves. This improved their mental well-being substantially and once they saw how well their children are doing too, they stopped feeling guilty.

Please remember to take care of yourself too. Make sure you listen to your body and mind too and give yourself time and space to feel. You might feel a lack of confidence, you might have a 100 questions about how things will work with your child, or if you will manage at work.

If you need help with this, please get my free download on work life balance or reach out to me for a job coaching session and we can plan it together.

Did you find this post useful? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below.

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No more confusion: Balance kids and career in Germany

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