Education - Back to School

Back-to-work anxiety after maternity leave

Moms who used to work before having a baby, often find it a challenge to get back to their work, leaving their baby at home with a nanny or at a crèche or a childminder.

However, for many mothers, returning to work is a welcome change from the mothering role at home and so the most important task at hand is to find the right childcare for your baby.

There are many options available to parents and each of these should be looked at before making the choice.

Some mothers feel guilty about leaving their child but after the first week or two the pain will ease and both you and your baby will be happier. It’s worth the trauma of a few mornings crying if you are a mom who really does like to work outside the home.

However, expect both mother and baby to suffer from separation anxiety at this stage. Babies can become overly attached to their mother and cling to them when they are at home while on maternity leave. This makes many moms feel guilty when the time comes to return to work. But of course this is normal and natural and most children will grow out of the behaviour once they get older and become more secure in their environment.

While moms are at home babies are held by her a lot of the time and are nursed or comforted, whenever they cry. Once mothers rejoin the workforce, the daily routine, of course gets altered, baffling the baby. Here are some tips on how to alleviate separation anxiety for both mom and baby at the time that mom decides to return to work:

Ask the carer to schedule the naps and feeding of the baby so that he is well rested when you come and so that you reach home just in time for feeding. Baby should be kept in the same sleeping and eating routine that he has been in at home for the first few weeks at the crèche or with the babyminder so that there is not too much change at the one time.

Choose the caregiver for your baby very carefully. Your baby will feel more comfortable with a nurturing caregiver, whose mothering style matches yours.

Give the carer a list of baby’s likes/dislikes and medical needs etc so that the carer has a memo to refer to when dealing with the baby for the first few weeks.

Remind the carer of any special dietary needs of your baby.

Bring a familiar toy into the crèche (if you’re using a crèche ) for the first while so that baby has something familiar with him at all times for the introductory period.

Play with the baby as much as possible when you come home at night and make the departure and reunion with your baby, a happy occasion every time it occurs, by holding and cuddling your baby.

Once mothers go back to work, children often try to sleep through the day when mom is not there and try to play with you during the night, when you come back home. This will of course result in sleep deprivation for new working moms for about a month which can be a very difficult time. Try and turn this routine back to playtime at daytime and sleeptime by night by limiting naptimes and scheduling interactive playtimes by day The whole routine will somewhat have changed when you return to work anyway so a new routine will take a little while for baby to get used to.

Prepare for mornings the night before so that you get more time to spend with baby before you leave for work. Bottles can be sterilised and bags can be prepared so that you just have to pop in the food and you are set to go in the morning.

Going back to work may be a stressful time for both parents and baby but once a new routine is established, most families cope quite well with it. Babies love routine and a new one will always take some time to get used to - but remember they will get used to it eventually!

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