When I had my daughter the thought of returning to work filled me with dread. I spent the first few months of her life constantly with her, and didn’t relish the idea of leaving her side, let alone for a whole working day, week after week. Thankfully, in the UK the maternity leave allowance is fairly good, and I didn’t have to return to work until she was 10 months old. But I’m aware that in the US and other places the leave mothers get is abysmal! And I really don’t know how mothers in those countries cope!
What I did find though, is that my daughter coped far better with my leaving than I had anticipated, and we soon adapted. Most of my worries were unfounded. But it was still difficult in the beginning, and I still hate leaving her every time. Thankfully, my daughter is cared for by her dad while I work, but I’m aware not everyone has that luxury and they have to utilise childcare. Unfortunately some of us have to work, no matter how much we might wish we didn’t have to.
There are numerous issues that crop up for attachment parenting mothers leaving their children to go to work. From breastfeeding to co-sleeping, baby-led parenting and positive discipline; work can get in the way. This isn’t an article about logistics such as expressing breastmilk or choosing a good childcare provider. But I do have some suggestions, based on my experiences, to make things a little easier on you and your child/children.
Get advice and support from others
I can’t tell you how helpful it was to express my worries to other mums online, and get their support and reassurance. Many of them had returned to work and had words of guidance and reassurance to give me. Some had invaluable advice. Sometimes, just talking about my guilt and fears was enough to make me feel better. Speaking to my partner about my guilt also helped to reassure me and just make me feel better.
Make leaving your child fun for them
By this I mean, leave them while they’re doing something they enjoy. For us, this means our daughter comes to work in the car with us, and then we play together outside for a quarter of an hour before I say goodbye and leave her with dad. She barely notices my leaving, and spends a bit more time playing with her dad before they go home. This is a much better solution than the way we first did it; I would just say goodbye and walk off, leaving her screaming for me, and spend the whole day feeling awful.
Make some special time to reconnect
Never underestimate the power of just spending some special time with your child when you get home. I breastfeed my daughter, and we co-sleep. But as well as that, as soon as I get home, we do something special such as going to the park, watching cartoons together or playing a game. Before I do any cooking of dinner or cleaning, we spend some special time reconnecting.
Try to recognise negative behaviour and not over-react
For some children, being left while parents work can feel like rejection. For others, they can simply be more unsettled. My daughter is definitely different on the days that I’ve been at work. Apart from being hungry, and hence grumpy, because she’s had to go hours without nursing, she is much more clingy and more likely to have a tantrum. She is also more unsettled through the night. I have to remember why she is like this, and be understanding and patient. It’s easy to lose your temper when you’re tired, but sometimes just being mindful of the reasons behind behaviours can help.
Article by Lindsey Wilson
Lindsey is an attachment parenting, unschooling mummy to a beautiful baby girl. She lives in the north of England, and works part-time as a psychiatric nurse. Her hobbies are reading, cooking and baking, knitting and seeing bands.
Lindsey has written 25 awesome articles for Natural Family Today.
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