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Returning to work?
Returning to work after maternity, paternity, or parental leave is difficult and unfortunately, its difficulty is only exacerbated here in Japan. While Japan enjoys one of the world’s most liberal sets of parental leave laws, offering men and women 52 weeks of reduced but paid leave, social pressures made it so only 2 percent of fathers took advantage of this law in 2016. Long hours facilitated by a culture of overwork, social pressures that prevent most men from taking paternity leave, outdated tax laws that encourage single income households, and the shortage in childcare facilities are often cited as reasons why Japan’s birth rate has seen a steady decline since the 1960s. While the Japanese government has been working on implementing a number of legal reforms to foster a family-friendly working culture, naturally, recognizable change is slow to come. If it’s difficult to take parental leave, you can only imagine how difficult it is to return from one. In a country where 70 percent of women quit working after they have their first child, what are some ways to help ease the pressure and hardship of working while caring for a family?
1. Create a plan before going on leave
“Failing to plan is planning to fail” – Benjamin Franklin
Your transition back to work can be made a lot smoother by determining with your bosses before going on leave what your leave and return will look like for the company. Who will be handling your workload while you are away? How much communication is to be expected from you during your leave? How long will you be on leave? What are the company’s goals and plans throughout your leave? Clarifying and mutually understanding the answers to these questions will ensure that there are fewer misunderstandings or differing expectations that can add avoidable pressure and stress during your transition back to work.
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities” – Stephen Covey
Take this time as an opportunity to determine your life priorities. There is no one way to be a parent and thus, no one way of managing a work-life balance. Instead of allowing work to determine your priorities for you, determine you and your family’s priorities before going back to work. By actively making decisions on what to and what not to prioritize, you will naturally be creating boundaries that will help guide you when you face tough decisions at the office.
3. Stand your ground
“Be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm” – Abraham Lincoln
Make a decision and stick to it. Whether you decide to stay at home or return to work, someone will always disagree with you. Don’t let that someone be you. Let go of the guilt, doubts, and unrealistic expectations and accept that there will be good and bad days. Be proud of the decision you’ve chosen to take and surround yourself with those who support these decisions.
4. Find quality childcare
“The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them” – Frank A. Clark
In order to be able to prioritize and stand your ground, you need to find care for your children that you can trust. There is not as much family support as there used to be in Japan. Many young parents do not live near their own families anymore and as such cannot rely on their own parents for help. If you’re not from Japan, it is even more likely that you do not have relatives nearby to help raise your kids in Tokyo or other parts of Japan. CareFinder wants to help both Japanese and international working families find the support they need for raising their children. Having quality care can definitely ease the physical and psychologically strain of being a working parent. CareFinder makes this easy for you, with a straightforward system that allows you to easily post jobs, receive applications, and hire the sitter that is best for your family. We put a considerable amount of work into building an intentional community of eager babysitters that are highly qualified and with multiple skill sets and put them through a strict screening process to make sure they are of high quality so that you don’t have to spend your limited time and energy doing so. Because of the variety in babysitters on CareFinder, you can find a babysitter, nanny, or au pair that fits your lifestyle and needs. Whether you are
looking for just an evening babysitter, an international babysitter, a hotel babysitter, a weekend babysitter, an overnight babysitter, a first aid certified childminder, a great au pair, a summer babysitter or a tutor, CareFinder is your one-stop website for meeting all of your babysitting needs. Don’t make finding quality childcare harder than it needs to be.
5. Spend time with your partner
“The most important thing a parent can do for their children is to love the co-parent”
Remember to continue nurturing your relationship with your partner as your family grows and your calendars fill up. Plan monthly date nights away from work and kids to check in on each other, feel rejuvenated, and simply enjoy each other’s company. Your relationship with your partner reverberates to all aspects of your life including work and the well-being of your children.
6. Spend quality time with yourself
“Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean me first, it means me too” – L.R. Knost
Last but not least, don’t forget to create moments for yourself. If you are not taking care of yourself, you can’t take care of others.
CareFinder’s founder and CEO Megumi Moss started CareFinder after spending the majority of her career working in a large company in which she saw her co-workers and friends struggle with raising a child and having a career. When Megumi decided it was time to have a child, she researched childcare and babysitting options and was surprised to find there were no efficient babysitting services that connected highly skilled, international babysitters with families. Thus, CareFinder was founded in the hopes of helping both Japanese and international families find the support they need for their children while also bridging the gap between both Japanese and non-Japanese cultures.