Going back to work after having a baby

Super Granny Andalene Salvesen offers advice to mothers returning to work


Preparing to go back to work
The first thing to remember is to not stress! If you are breastfeeding, this affects your milk supply and doesn’t do either of you any good. Try to maximise the little time you have together by breathing in and enjoying every moment. Don’t try and practise for the days ahead – instead, use every waking moment to bond with your baby.

Choosing childcare
Carefully consider your options when choosing who will be looking after your precious bundle. Some caregivers are better at housework and others better with bonding with children. Decide which is more important to you. Some are loud and fun, some are quiet and gentle. Don’t be scared to ask too many questions. Often your gut feel will be the best barometer.

If your choice is a nanny, have her start before you go back to work so that you can watch her when she is not aware. I recommend the nanny cams as you can check in through the day to “connect” with your little one and to stay on top of what is happening in their world. If your nanny is offended with this, then she is possible not the best option. Checking her references with a previous employer is extremely helpful.

You also need to clarify boundaries clearly before you start. Explain your priorities and expectations clearly. If you prefer a strict, to the clock, type of routine, then this needs to be communicated. If you prefer demand feeding and go-with-the-flow type of parenting, then communicate this. There is not a right or a wrong approach. This is your child and you get to decide what works for you.

Feeding baby
If you have decided and are able to breastfeed by pumping at work, then make it very clear to the caregiver that formula is merely for emergencies. Write down your preferred schedule and have her keep record of sleep/awake feed times as well as bowel movements. If at all possible, maybe you can arrange to come home once in the middle of the day for feeding time. But don’t feel at all guilty if that is not possible.

Coping emotionally
When you have made the decision to go back to work or your situation dictates and you have no choice, then it’s time to make the most of it. The biggest relief comes when you change what you can change and accept what you cannot change. That is something no one else can help you with. It is not an easy process, but it is just that — a process.

Give yourself a break! Of course you will be sad, missing your munchkin, want to cry periodically, but this is a season that will become easier with time. Give it time.

One thing I hear regularly is “Won’t my baby love the caregiver more than me?” No! A hundred times, no! You are the biological mother. The bond is there. Just build on it at every opportunity you have.

Helpful tips

Remember date nights: Being a working mother is tiring, but one of the most important things to remember is that your relationship also needs feeding. Don’t forget your husband!

Saving time at home: When it comes to home life, pre-plan your meals over weekends and freeze as much as possible. This way you can spend every last possible moment with baby before it is bedtime.

Ask for advice: Do what you can to equip yourself with parenting tools all along the way. Don’t be afraid to ask. Listen to everyone’s advice, discuss it with your spouse and decide together what is best for your child - regardless of what anyone else thinks or says. Be kind to yourself and this will rub off on your family and friends around you.

Be proud of yourself: Be positive and focus on what you are doing right, not on what could have been. Be the positive person you want your child to become. After all, they are learning from you every day, no matter how many hours you are spending with them. One day they will understand your sacrificing for them and when they become a parent they will recognise that and say, “Wow, I had the best mother ever! I want to be just like her” You are the best parent for your child - now walk in those shoes proudly!
Big On Children’s Super Granny Andalene Salvesen is heading back to Dubai in September for more talks and home visits. Visit www.munchkins.me for more information.

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