These days, going back to work and leaving your baby at daycare is a reality for most moms. Even though work may seem like a distant memory, there comes a time when you will need to prepare for a change in routine and the emotional roller-coaster of leaving your little one in the care of someone else. Here are some tips from real moms to help you transition back to ‘real life’ after maternity leave.
It’s not easy for moms or little ones
Clamber Club Expert and Occupational Therapist Nicole Katzenellenbogen recently went back to work after a longer than expected maternity leave, with her ‘big boy’, Dylan (3) starting playschool.
“The first two days of school were so great that I wondered why it was so easy for Dylan to separate from me. There I sat in my car wondering what to do with my time! Then came day three, which was a Monday (heads-up: This is not a good idea – start on a Tuesday and let them experience a few days of a new school before the weekend break). He was a wreck! I had to leave him upset and rush to work where I wondered why I was there and how quickly I could get back to the school.”
Shantelle De Charmoy Bouchet, tax accountant and mom to 22-month Emma, thinks that dropping your child off at daycare for the first time is harder on mom than on baby: “You have spent the last four to six months almost solely fixated on your baby (probably day and night) – are they cold, too hot, breathing, hungry, tired, sick etc.? So to go from permanently thinking about and caring for your baby to leaving them in the care of someone else and letting them take on those concerns is not easy.”
Tips for the transition
If possible, she recommends easing your baby (and yourself) into daycare: “I did a slow initiation to the crèche, one hour for a day or two, then two, then three etc. By day three my baby was happy!”
Nicole is also easing into the change: “I am still delaying early morning starts just in case Dylan needs some extra time with me in the morning. This is giving me some sense of sanity!”
“It’s been an adjustment getting back to work and managing the house, shopping, work demands and cooking healthy meals for the adults in the house and the kids. I am slowly starting to get more organised and plan ahead which has really helped,” Nicole says.
De Charmoy Bouchet recommends keeping calm under the pressure: “Don’t stress out and panic if your baby still wakes a million times at night. Somehow you do manage to get through work on a few minutes of shut-eye. Stressing out only makes your baby more anxious and less likely to sleep.”
Liz Senior, Occupational Therapist and Founder of Clamber Club, agrees that you should be kind to yourself: “Slowly, you will get used to the routine and get better at multi-tasking too. Give it time,” she says.
Nicole says it’s important that moms realise they are not alone. “Let’s support one another in coming up with ways to make the little and big tasks of readjusting more manageable. There is nothing like another mom to chat to who knows exactly what it feels like to run after kids at the shops, go to work with porridge on your shoulder and yet somehow keep it together and smile.”
After all, at the end of the day, that’s what being a mom is all about!