Is your return to work looming? Child care has been organised. Tick. But your first day of work feels like a day of doom coming. How do you deal with the thought that you won’t be there to comfort your baby when he’s crying, that they might let him cry for longer than you would at home, and that he’ll now have to rely on someone else other than you?
This one is SO HARD and there is no easy answer.
This scenario causes mums to do a LOT of soul searching (and more than not, financial analysis of their household income vs expenses).
Things to ponder:
- How do you WANT to mother? What’s in your soul? Your core? How strongly do you feel about being a stay at home mum versus a working mum?
- Have you done a financial analysis for your family? If you want to be a stay at home mum, are there expenses you can cut out so it’s affordable? Can you lower your standard of living? I did this to be a stay at home mum until the kids were at school. To go from a double income couple to a single income family, we had to make significant changes in our lifestyle.
- Find a child care you trust. This is hard in the beginning when most carers start as strangers. But you will generally have gut feelings about people. Follow those instincts. Change the child care arrangements if you are unhappy. Your child will not suffer if there’s a few changes. YOU need to feel secure.
Show yourself kindness and compassion.
If you NEED to work for financial reasons and don’t want to, it’s going to be tough. Show yourself kindness and compassion. Surround yourself with love and support from others. Your heart will break into a million pieces, especially if your baby cries at drop off. I’ve been there.
Both of my kids cried every.single.time. (In fact, Missy Moo cried until the last day of Year 1, every single day). I can’t tell you how many times I stood in the hallway of the child care centre or made it to my car and bawled. (I was a stay at home mum but my kids went to child care as toddlers to give me a break and for socialisation).
Sometimes mums not coping with the arrangements is enough for the parents to re-evaluate their lives and make significant changes so mum doesn’t have to work.
Sometimes when baby settles well into the child care arrangement, mum realises that she CAN do both, that she does actually enjoy the little break from her baby and to do something for herself (whether it be the actual job that’s mentally or socially stimulating or just to have a coffee or lunch in peace).
But for mums who are dreading the return to work and leaving your baby, there’s not a lot anyone can say to make you feel better unfortunately. Just remember that it’s a completely normal response to feel those strong negative emotions: dread, gut wrenching sadness, overwhelm, anger. Ride them out and be kind to yourself. Remind yourself that these are NORMAL. You do not need to toughen up! You do not need to FEEL less.
- Write it all down. Buy a beautiful notebook (Kmart has lovely inexpensive ones) and record your responses. Record how your baby responds at separation. This is your record of a significant change in your life and sometimes getting the emotions out of your head and heart can help you feel better.
- Find likeminded mums. Have another mum give you a hug who is going through the same thing (or has been through it) can be helpful. As with most things in motherhood, feeling alone just exacerbates your feelings. You are NOT the only mum feeling like this. Your baby will NOT be the only baby that cries at separation.
- Ask the child carers to provide you with as much detail of your baby’s day as possible so you feel less out of control. CALL the centre multiple times per day to check on your baby if it makes you feel better. You won’t be calling multiple times months down the track, I promise. Because it might not ever be EASY, but it will get EASIER.
Sending a massive dose of LOVE to all the returning to work mums. I see you. I hear you. I know your anguish.
To find like minded mums and to feel less alone, click here to join the Mama Village.