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A mix of emotions comes up when returning to work after having pēpi. Helping whānau to develop a care plan for pēpi, establish daily routines, and find ways to look after themselves will support whānau in this transition.

While we know that pēpi will be taken care of while at preschool, or with other whānau, it can still feel hard for to head back to work. 

It can be helpful for whānau to know these feelings are normal. Working with whānau to come up with arrangements that support them best will help them to feel more prepared and in control. 

What planning is useful for whānau?

Whānau might like to look at all the childcare options available in the local area – this can include in-home support or pēpi remaining with whānau such as a grandparent. Visiting local preschools and kōhanga reo will help whānau to get a good feel for what each of them offer. They might like to ask questions about the , facilities and routine of the centre. Factors like location, costs and care availability will be important considerations too.

Kaitiaki might like to work towards establishing a routine around kai and to support pēpi transitioning to preschool or kōhanga reo. This doesn’t need to be perfect. Pēpi can adapt to routines while at preschool fairly easily. However, if māmā is breastfeeding, they will need to arrange with their employer to provide a place to express and keep milk. Otherwise, some māmā arrange that they visit the childcare centre to feed pēpi, especially when work and the centre are near each other.

Open communication with employers is really important. They will want to support kaitiaki as best they can. 

It would be useful for whānau to have some planning arrangements for the inevitable times when pēpi is sick. They will need to think about who will stay home with pēpi to care for them.

Kaitiaki may feel sad, worried or guilty about returning to mahi, and this is really normal. Encourage them to kōrero with other kaitiaki about their experiences and advice. 

Self-care is important too

Going back to work, and adjusting to parenting when at home, is really tiring. 

Encourage whānau to stick to their routines as much as possible, plan in resting and down time as well as the things they enjoy doing. This will support their wellbeing.

Conversation ideas

How are you feeling about returning to work after having your pēpi?
Have you thought about what kind of childcare options you'll use? Would you like help researching childcare options?
Is there anything specific you're worried about in terms of balancing mahi and caring for pēpi?
Is there anything you'd like to talk through about returning to work?
Who can support you as you transition back to work?
Would you like me to connect you with any other parents who have gone through the same experience?
How is your employer supporting you with this transition?

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