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From PurpleDog ~ I will be returning to full time work next month after being home with my daughter since her birth. I need ideas from the working AP moms on how to handle this! I am not really looking forward to returning to work - I'm a little depressed about it. Nevertheless, that's where I am right now in my life and am trying to be proactive (of course, I have plans in the works about being a long term SAHM.) I would appreciate any ideas you may have to make the transition easier for both of us and ways to keep connected!
From hunter ~ I was a WOHM when Emma was first born. I think the most important thing for me was to ensure she was in a good daycare situation. It was so much easier to go to work everyday knowing that she not only loved being where she was, but that they loved her and treated her as well as I would if I was caring for her. As it worked out, there was a daycare center in the same building I was working in, so I was able to pop in during breaks and at lunchtime to see her, but I would *not* have used it if I didn't think it was a positive place for Emma.
I also focused on my long-term plans. "Yes, right now I'm sitting here in this icky, dark cubicle doing stupid stuff, but I know that this time next year, I'm going to be working from home!" That kept me going every day, and it kept me working towards my goal.
It's probably going to be a harder transition for you that for your child! Kids are incredibly flexible, and they are willing to accept much less from others than they are willing to accept from Mom. My daughter would never take a bottle from me, but she'd happily take one from my husband or a daycare provider; actually, none of my kids would take a bottle from me, but they would all take one from anyone else! Kids who need a particular A-B-C-D routine from Mom to get to sleep are often perfectly happy with an E-F routine to get to sleep at daycare. Make sure your daycare provider is with you on no CIO and no hitting, and don't stress about the rest. Good luck and (((((HUGS)))))
From JanB ~ I think finding a quality day care provider that you trust completely is the key. I went back to work part-time when Zeke was 14 months old, and we found the most wonderful daycare, with AP-friendly care providers. Every time I visited there, the kids looked so happy and well taken care of. It was such a load off my mind. And Zeke loved them, too. (Unfortunately because of a change at my workplace I had to take him out of the daycare after only two months, just as he was starting to really bond with the people there, but that's a whole 'nother story.)
A slow transition is helpful, if you can manage it. Like, the first day, visit for an hour or so with your baby, then the second day a couple hours, still with you there the whole time, then gradually work up to leaving her there by herself for part of the time, etc., to try to get her used to her new surroundings.
And, I know it can be depressing when it's not entirely your choice, but it could be good for your daughter in some ways! She'll be getting a lot of interaction with other kids, for one thing. I feel like Zeke's daycare experience has been quite positive. Of course, I did have the luxury of starting him there when he was reaching toddlerhood and not really an infant anymore. Still, I think it was a very positive experience for all of us. (Not saying that every kid NEEDS to go into day care, by a long shot -- just that if your child does go into day care, it can definitely be a good thing, as long as you find a really good daycare provider.)
From cedar ~ You have lots of great suggestions already from hunter and Jan. They've covered the biggies. I have one point to add, which might be a no-brainer for you, but I found that with returning to work part-time (when my daughter was about 14 months), there was a lot more to pack into the evening and weekends, including all the preparations for daycare as well as cooking, household stuff, etc., plus getting my daughter down for an early night so she could be up in time for daycare. You can guess what happened, and I'm not proud of it. At least my daughter noticed too, and made a big deal about getting her share of attention back.
Reconnecting after you both get home is the most important thing, whatever else you have to do. Once we got into a habit of coming home and spending the first little while together, playing or nursing or whatever she wanted, we were both much happier (and my daughter was happier at daycare too).
Good luck. I hope it all goes well and you find a great caretaker.
From jacbyrd ~ Cedar, Jan and hunter have stated everything I was going to say. Finding a good daycare provider is the big thing for me. I enjoyed having one close enough that I could pop in anytime I wanted and I also went everyday at lunch (and still am!).
I had to do a lot of prioritizing about what was important to get done. There are a lot of things that don't get finished - like the laundry folded - so that I can spend time with my daughter since that is my #1 priority. Everything else can wait. I do have someone come in once every other week to do some basic cleaning stuff.
It is also important to have help from your husband. You are going to be very busy and very tired so it is important that he help out as much as possible. If he is like my husband, you will need to be very explicit about what you want. If I want dinner started before I get home instead of just leaving out the stuff for dinner, I leave him a big note on the back door. Little things like that make a big difference.
Also - make time for yourself. I know it sounds the exact opposite of AP, but you have to recharge. This is really hard for me. I don't get to see my daughter during the week, so I went to spend every minute that I am not working with her, but I quickly get burned out. Just an hour a week where she is not in the house and I am doing something for myself is a huge help.
From liamsmom ~ Are you nursing? With daycare providers be sure they know how to properly handle expressed breast milk (assuming you are going to pump). I agree with everything that has been posted already. One thing that helped me after I had my second son was going back to work on a Wednesday. If you can, make your first week back a short one.
Please, for yourself, do NOT make your baby's first day at day care your first day to work! Ease into it and be prepared for lots of tears, yours! Good Luck!