Going back to work after baby
Monday, January 4th, 2016
Preparing mum and baby for the world of work………
After we spend those first six months or more nurturing our tiny babies, it’s decision time for many parents as they have to consider their return to work and that very important decision of childcare. For many it can be a roller-coaster of emotions, some finding it hard to even think about being away from their tot for one moment. Regardless of how we’re feeling it’s a reality for families all over and can be overwhelming. Often it’s only when we’re back into that working way of life that we feel the benefits of how we can prepare both ourselves and our children through that transition.
There’s so much we can do to help ourselves as we return to the familiar surroundings of work that existed way before baby arrived! However when it comes to saying goodbye on that first morning, for many it can be a struggle. We have developed an emotional bond with our child that is different for all, handing over responsibility to another to care for our baby like we would is a big step for any parent. To allow yourself feel more assured give that time to get to know the crèche staff, make the most of those initial introductory days so both you and baby can adapt to being away from one another, you feeling reassured and content are a big part of the process. Allow that time during the initial weeks and months to readjust and settle into your new routine and work schedule, for many it takes that time so don’t be hard on yourself.
Prepare to wean breast to bottle
If you are breastfeeding when you return to work there are a number of ways to make the process easier for mum and baby.
Gradually wean baby – gradually phase feeds from 5 weeks before starting crèche, ideally at the beginning introducing one bottle with expressed or formula milk, the more our babies adapt to the bottled teat the easier of a transition it will be for them to take a bottled feed from the crèche staff.
Expressing & feeding during your working day – In Giraffe we encourage parents to come in and feed their babies when they can, often it is when mum works locally. Under Irish law, breastfeeding mothers are entitled to time off or a reduction in working hours. Speak to your employer about how you can break this time down within your working week to either express milk or feed your child.
Enjoy the morning & evening feeds – There is nothing more special than being able to continue feeding your baby before and after work. Although some mothers may have stopped feeding during the day, her milk supply can be maintained for just those feeds.
Children thrive on routine
As our babies grow and develop they adapt to their surroundings, whatever time of the day it is our children love routine. Creating that consistent ‘what happens next’ message enhances their sense of security and comfort. Encouraging regular mealtimes, naptimes and playtime maintains that predictability for our children.
When it comes to that busy hour in the evening where we juggle dinner, bath times & bed establishing a routine from very early on is an excellent way of promoting positive sleeping habits. It’s not just something that happens naturally, for the parent it does require a plan, adapting it as our children get older. The more we live it the more it becomes part of our everyday habits.
Ease the load
We can make life easier for ourselves during that working week if we are to consider the following few tips
Cook in batches – if you manage to create some meals that can be frozen, for even 3 evenings out of 5, this can make a big difference in the evenings.
Order your grocery shop on line – one less job to do and it saves time and pressure!
Managing clothes –For our children, at the weekends try and have their outfits set out for the week as this can take the pressure off the morning routine.
Making the most of your time together
Whenever I meet with parents that have just returned to work after their maternity leave, the one thing that jumps out at them is that little time they have in the evenings with their child. No matter how small or big our children are – they love our attention and so it’s by creating that one to onetime even for the recommended 20 minutes that makes all the difference. If at that point it still is hard to fit in, always make the most of that cuddle at bedtime. Be present with your child as you help them wind down, whether it’s babbling away with your 9 month old or having little chats during bath time with your toddler – it’s that quality time with you that they love and hang on to. Weekends are precious too; remember it’s the quality of that time and not quantity.
Returning to work after having a baby is a big deal for any parent, preparing for that transition can be a big part of settling back into the workforce while also knowing that your little person is happy. Remember to allow yourself that time and attention – and trust your instincts.
“Every family is different, and we’re choosing to do what’s best for ours”
Katie, working parent
Aoife Lee, Giraffe Parent Coach