Making a Smooth Transition Back to Work

In the weeks to come, many parents will be transitioning back to a work environment that is not in their home. As a result, their children will also find the “normal” routine is changing.

It is a unique situation and children, regardless of age, take their emotional cues from us. If we are calm or excited and frame this transition back to work as a unique, short-term experience we’ll feel better and our children will feel safe.

Consider these tips to help make the  transition of going back to work as smooth as possible.

  1. Come to terms with how you feel about returning to work. Remember, that children take their emotional cues from us. So, if you have the time to process your feelings about the transition before talking to you child, you will be better equipped to prepare your child.
  2. Let your child know what to expect. For young children, this could be done though a story that features them – a story about a child who returns to preschool, a babysitter, etc. As you tell the “story” highlight details that mirror your child’s situation. You can and even include some of the feelings your child has expressed. Tell this story as often as you’d like, but at least the day and night before, and morning of the first day. For children who are 15 months to 5 years old, it may even be helpful to make a personal story book. Use simple language and include the morning routine and pick up at the end of the day.
  3. Prepare your child for being apart from you. If you think your child might have a hard time, consider letting them carry a picture of the two of you together, or a favorite family photo to keep with them, or in a special place, during the day.
  4. Have a little more patience with them. You may find that extra cuddles or lap time may be needed. Children ask for emotional support in different ways, so while dinner may need to get on the table, find a few minutes for a hand hold, a hug, or some play time with your child.
  5. Have older children develop a daily schedule. Children who are old enough to be at home while parents are at work are also old enough to plan out their own day, with the parameters you provide. For example, “You must stay inside the home, can have one hour of gaming time with friends, complete your homework assignment, and unload the dishwasher. You can decide when you do these, as long as it’s before 5:00PM. Would you like to make your own schedule, or should we sit down and do it together?”   You could also begin by asking your child what things they think should go on the schedule, before making the schedule and timeline.

You know your child best. For some, a simple list works. For others a more detailed list with a phone alarm set as a reminder is most helpful. While not foolproof, most of us are more likely to be engaged with a plan if we helped to create it.

  1. Treat yourself kindly. This means set a reasonable expectation for you and your family—and then lower it a little. Don’t expect to jump right back in to where you were a couple of months ago. This is a new time. And the younger the child, the longer this time has felt to them. Help everyone ease back in by setting a reasonable expectation. It also helps to give some structure to the day with a calendar or routine.

Finally, reassure everyone that at the end of the day, you’ll be back together at your home where you can share the adventures of your day with one another.


Need help finding childcare or other family resources?

Family Resource Navigator through Help Me Grow North Texas connects child care and development, healthcare, and parenting resources.



Want to receive the weekly Thriving email? Sign up here

Thriving Thursday: Sharing Our Proven Path to Youth Success

Camp Fire uses Thrive{ology} to teach youth to identify sparks, develop a growth mindset, learn goal management, and take time to reflect.

During this COVID-19 crisis, Camp Fire is here to do what we do best – help children and youth thrive by  providing tools to parents and other adults that help youth discover their sparks, gain self-confidence, enhance social emotional learning skills, learn life-changing life skills, develop a growth mindset, learn goal management and take time to reflect and reframe in the face of adversity.

Throughout this shelter in place, every Thursday, Camp Fire First Texas will provide families interactive games, routines or a daily ritual they can incorporate to help their child thrive.  Join the Thriving Thursday email group or follow Camp Fire First Texas on Facebook and Instagram.