Vaccines, re-openings, and a return to pre-COVID-19 wedding life are a cause for so much celebration after the year we've all endured. A return to work and school are two of the top items all working parents are looking forward to, but as we ease back into an industry that has been largely shut down for a year, transitioning smoothly as a working wedding pro parent isn't going to be simple. It’s completely normal to feel abnormal right now. Here are five tips to help make your parent-business load lighter as we emerge back into the party!
1. Assess Your Childcare Needs
Arguably the most stressful part of juggling kids and work is childcare. It’s no secret that our country isn’t swimming in options for childcare, and with so many facilities now closed post-COVID-19, parents are feeling a deep strain when it comes to affordable, quality care. The first step to this process is to take some time to look at your upcoming work requirements and get a solid idea of how much childcare you need, and what type is best for your family. Hopefully with schools reopening, your childcare needs are met more easily. If your children are not of school age, or school hours aren’t all that you need, coming up with an idea of weekly needs is the first step to a plan. From there you can budget out what is best, be it a daycare center, a nanny, a nanny share, or a family member. Checking in with your community, family, friends, and neighbors to get a wide view of your options to create a solid childcare plan can relieve so much stress in your overall return to work experience. Also remember, you can only do as much as you can do. Make your plan, make your backup plan, and do your best.
2. Start Small
If financially possible, return to event work slowly. If you are able to space your calendar out in a way that reintroduces event pro life back into your home in smaller steps, give yourself that time. Your wedding season muscle hasn’t been exercised in a while and that muscle has to get back into shape. The emails, meetings, details, and physical demands of event seasons are taxing, and jumping right back in will be a shock to you and your family. Before you book those back-to-back events, try to remember what the day after a wedding really feels like, when your body can’t do much more than stumble to the fridge for snacks all day. Instead of jumping back into the deep end right away, dip your toes in for a bit if you can.
3. Expect Child Separation Anxiety
Your kids have probably been with you at home more than in previous years. Some days were awesome, while some were very challenging. Regardless, kids got used to the home life after months and months of not being able to go anywhere. You haven’t been away in the evenings and weekends for events, so to have you jump back into that life again will be a big change for them. As we know, change can be difficult for children. Expect them to struggle with watching you leave the house. Expect them to haze your babysitter and throw a fit when you leave. Expect to feel exhilarated to get back out, and sad to get back out, and then possibly guilty that you got back out, then happy as you get a Starbucks alone on your way home. You may feel a myriad of emotions, and that's okay! Expect that they may struggle to return to school or any new environment. Remember that this is a transition and transitions are hard, especially on children who often feel out of control when things change. Plan on loads of cuddling when home, a lot of reassuring before you leave, a lot of explaining when you will be gone, and validating all the feelings. Expect challenges but also stay hopeful and optimistic that they can adjust. Also, reassure yourself that this isn’t forever, and soon the transition back to work and school will become normal again.
4. Keep a Family Calendar Visible
Last year your calendar had a bunch of blank days covered in bleach smell. Kids weren’t in sports, you weren’t at weddings, and no one was wearing pants. Now that things are changing the whole family needs to be a part of the new schedule. Marking things down in a digital calendar is convenient, but often only adults see it. Having a large family calendar in your home with everyone's commitments is a tangible way to keep the entire family involved in the household events. It also helps to be able to say, “it’s on the calendar,” when you’ve been asked for the millionth time what’s happening this weekend.
5. Give Everyone Some Grace
To go from a scary pandemic to changing rules to varying levels of activities to full hustle and bustle work life is a tremendous amount of upheaval for a family to get through. Our kids have endured so many ups and downs, alongside parents trying to keep things together through financial, emotional, and physical changes we had very little control over. The best way to get yourself back into work pants and school lunches is to remember that this time period is not going to be perfect. If you’re feeling very emotional some days, if your kids are acting up, if you schedule a meeting on a wrong day, and if you put a bunch of junk food into those first packed lunches as you’re running late to school––it’s okay. It's all expected. You’re not going to pick up where you left off because that place doesn’t exist anymore. The more grace you can give yourself and your kids, the easier the transition back into the crazy life of an event pro is going to be.