Returning to work after having a baby should be a time of excitement.
Gaining satisfaction from doing things that you do well. Being productive.
Feeling adult again!
But lurking not that far under the surface is dread. Perhaps pure terror.
How on earth will I manage the juggling act of childcare and work?
Let’s be real. Navigating this new path can be a bumpy ride. And your anxiety levels will rise.
But support is here. Read on for some top tips to help you keep it together.
Plan the Transition
Ease your way in. We’ve established the transition into care is not always smooth.
But gently introducing changes for your child in advance will help.
• Read books and tell stories to your child about making new friends in childcare.
• Do some orientation visits so your child becomes familiar with the care environment.
• Talk to your childcare provider about their daily schedules.
• Start to follow a similar meals and resting routine at home.
• Involve your child in preparing for care; helping to make their lunch or pack their bag.
• Place your child into care a month before you start back to work.
• Promote a positive experience by starting with shorter days.
Transitioning your child into care with the burden of work commitments is stressful.
If possible, set a plan in motion before returning. You can adapt this approach to suit younger baby’s routine. The benefits of a gentle introduction to care will be worth the effort.
Prepare for Separation Anxiety
You’ve done the planning groundwork.
All your ducks are in a row – positive transition to childcare in action!
Then boom…separation anxiety.
If you didn’t see that coming, separation anxiety is a common and normal fear for children. It’s natural your child may be upset when it comes time for you to leave. And tearful goodbyes are heart wrenching.
But it does get easier.
Following these strategies support your child as they move through this stage.
- Encourage your child to bring a special comforter from home, like a blanket or teddy.
- Chatting with caregivers in a warm and friendly way will help your child feel at ease.
- Settle your child into an activity they enjoy before you leave.
- When it’s time to leave, let your child’s carer know.
- Say a quick goodbye to your child.
- Give them a kiss and cuddle, tell them you’re leaving and when you’ll be back.
- Make your exit as soon as possible.
It’s very difficult, but don’t linger if your child is upset. Prolonging the goodbye could make it worse. You child will settle.
Your child’s carers are professionals. They’ll comfort your child and open opportunities for them to engage in play when they’re ready. In most cases, a quick phone call an hour later will confirm your child has settled and refocused in play.
Then you can relax!
For more on separation anxiety read here.
Build Your Support Network
It takes a village to raise a child. This old saying is never more fitting than when you’re shifting your identity to working parent.
In modern terms, our village may include a combination of family, friends and services. But for many, family support is not always available. Therefore, an increasing reliance on friends and services helps to fill that void.
Whatever your village looks like, building a supportive network of people to lean on is vital.
So, become comfortable with delegation and outsourcing, because super parents are a myth.
If you have a partner or friends willing to help with home life, accept with gratitude.
Keep things basic. And be kind to yourself!
Your childcare provider ticks a lot of boxes in supporting you as a working parent.
Having peace of mind your child is happy and thriving in care is important.
St Joseph’s Family Services have been leaders in the early education and care of children for nearly 50 years. Our Vision supports every child and their family utilising their strengths to become the best they can be.
If you’re returning to work and placing your child in care is causing stress, we can help.
Our experienced team of qualified educators and resource managers are ready to support you.
Call 02 6583 6464 to chat with our friendly Client Services Team.
Or email [email protected] to find out more.