Returning to the workplace in 2016

returning to the workplaceAre you a parent thinking about returning to the workplace in 2016?

The start of a new year can often signify a new chapter for parents with fresh goals, children starting school and childcare places becoming available. The thought of committing to paid work while managing a home and family can seem quite daunting, especially if you’ve had a significant break. Here are a few tips that you might find useful when preparing to take the leap back into a workplace.

  1. Spend some time capturing your skills, and what you have achieved in recent times, as a reminder of your value. This will build confidence but it is also likely that many of your achievements and skills will be transferable to the workplace.
  2. Develop a clear idea of your preferences around work days and hours but also be prepared to be flexible if you can. There are many different types of flexibility (eg. varying start or finish times, part-time, job share, work from home, working longer hours over less days) so there may be more than one approach that will meet your (and a potential employer’s) needs.
  3. Plan and cost your childcare arrangements which might include a childcare centre, family daycare, sharing care with other parents or after school care.
  4. Involve the whole family in your planning. How can your partner be involved/support? Is there an option for them to take up more of the caring responsibilities? Could older children contribute to managing the household? Identify what needs to be done and who could do it.
  5. Put together plans for backup arrangements to cater for the possibility of sick children or changes to work times.
  6. Speak to other working parents in your networks to get their tips for successfully managing the work/family juggle. (A colleague once suggested that I put two bottom sheets and bed protectors on my son’s bed so that I could simply pull the top set off in the event of a night time accident and head straight back to bed – a definite time and sanity saver for me!)
  7. Work out meals that can be cooked, frozen then reheated to make the workday nights much more manageable.
  8. Assess whether/when you might outsource some activities such as cleaning or yard maintenance. Sometimes these services will cost less than your hourly rate in which case you might be better earning that hour’s pay and avoiding something that you are not that fond of, especially if you enjoy your work. This will also create more leisure time.
  9. Consider ordering your groceries online, and/or buy in bulk, as this can be a great time saver.
  10. Be prepared to ask for help. If we don’t ask, we don’t receive. You might be providing someone with an opportunity to experience the reward of giving.

All the best for 2016. If a return to work is on the agenda, you might like to download my free resume ebook to guide you through creating a highly effective resume.


NB: I have another workshop scheduled to start on 29 February 2016. Find details here –

Donna Thistlewaite

Director at Career Vitality
Donna is a mum, career coach, and lifelong learner. She has enjoyed a career spanning 30 years inspired by her passion for people. With a human resources background she transitioned into career consulting to help people revitalise their careers. Donna has a particular interest in supporting return to work and working parents and is an advocate for gender diversity and workplace flexibility.She has achieved a number of university qualifications and is a professional member of the Career Development Association of Australia (CDAA).
Donna’s business, Career Vitality, supports women considering returning to work through CareerSmart Mums, a workshop currently running quarterly in North West Brisbane.