I will be returning to work when my newborn is two months old. I haven't even had the baby yet, but the very thought of leaving him is already tearing me apart! How can we best manage this transition? Is it fair to ask the daycare if I can call during the day? Would lunchtime visits be too disruptive? Thank you for your advice. - Pamela in Virginia
The Childcare Expert Answers:
Many people just assume these days that you must have a two income home in order to survive. Therefore, they also assume that putting their child(ren) into daycare during these working hours is the only choice. I say there are many choices involved here.
CHOICE 1: Does it take two incomes to make ends meet? Many times, yes. But if you consider the costs involved with working (daycare, meals out, clothing for work, travel to/from work, taxes) the cost may be too high to be feasible. Remember, why you had children. Was it so someone ELSE could raise them?
CHOICE 2: If a parent finds that they must work, either for sanity or for economy. Does it have to be full-time? Will part-time work better? Can it be while the children are at school? While my spouse can be home and care for the children? Can I do a job that enables me to work out of my home?
CHOICE 3: If you choose for your child to be taken care of by someone other than yourself, how about another family member? This can be tricky, but most of the time gives the child a greater sense of understanding about his/her own family roots.
CHOICE 4: Barring any family assistance for childcare, what works best for my needs? In-home provider (nanny, babysitter), Family-home daycare, Child care center. There are many pros and cons involved with each of these.
This is a very emotional time for you. Transition will be key even for just an hour away right now. Take it a little at a time. Any good childcare provider will understand the importance of this. It should ALWAYS be okay to call and see how your little one is doing. Visiting maybe a little trickier because it does confuse children when they are very small, they need to have consistency, no matter what. If you choose to nurse the baby and are close enough a lunch time break might be very nice for you and baby to re-group.
Do not scrimp when it comes to your children. They are the most precious thing you will ever be given the responsibility of caring for in your life. Don't let them down.
If you do return to work outside the home and put your child into a daycare situation, remember you are not alone. Thousands of children come out of the daycare setting healthy, happy, and well-adjusted individuals. No matter what your decision is, you have to be sure of it, otherwise you will resent it, your child will feel your ambiguity, no one wins. Be sure.