Guest post contributed by Giselle May – the Chief Editor at katherinerosman.com.
After spending a full year with my Son at home I started to really miss my old life. I know that the time we spent together was irreplaceable and I am grateful for this. But as a former career woman I felt that I had given up a big piece of my identity to become a full time Mom.
Now that I have to return to work I am struggling with the opposite problem. The pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction and I miss my child every day.
I worry that this close connection we have built up will start to fade. So I have had to re-think how I structure my life so that I can be sure that he always comes first and that our bond flourishes.
The Impact of Day Care
In order for me to work full time we had no other choice than to find a day care that is close by. Five days a week is going to be hard on my Son and it’s not something that I am comfortable with, but it is necessary for now.
I feel guilty about this and I hope that it does not have to be this way for too long.
He has been spending two days a week there for a month leading up to this change. He seems to have coped with this well after a rough first few days. In fact I have seen some changes in him that I did not expect:
- He is becoming more comfortable around other kids that he does not know
- While he doesn’t talk well yet, he is trying constantly
- He also seems happier when he is at home
It is the last one that really surprised me! Whenever he is not sleepy and crashing out, he is the happiest I have seen him. This helps to alleviate some of the guilt that I feel and I can rationalize that he is learning some important lessons about what life is like.
Even though he seems happy, I do not want to take this for granted. I want to make sure that our connection does not fade over the coming months as he adjusts to this schedule.
Before I do this I also want to point out some of the negatives I have observed from day care. I don’t want to paint an unrealistic picture for anyone:
- He comes home exhausted! It can be a challenge getting him cleaned up and fed before he goes to sleep. Some days he sleeps before we even get home and doesn’t get up until the next morning.
- He is frequently getting sick. This has not happened before and I was very worried at first. Everyone has told me that this is normal though, and I have found lots of great material online about this issue.
Pumping and Breastfeeding
After a long day my Son wants to feed immediately. I always thought that he would grow out of this, but it still seems to be his go to comfort zone.
It also gives us some time to bond after dealing with the separation anxiety all day. It is just nice to have some time to feel close to your baby again after a long day.
He is approaching two years old though and most people give me a funny look when they find out that he is still breastfeeding. The stigma attached to this I think is unfair as it remains the best thing for his nutrition, and mental development. So I don’t really care what anyone else has to say about it.
While I am at work the carer sometimes needs to give him some milk to get him to sleep. So I do have to pump while I am at work so that we have a supply on hand. He does not require as much now he is older though, and I can get away with just the one pumping session each day.
Swap Quantity for Quality Time
Now that my free time is limited I have to do what I can to preserve what is left. The day to day chores around the house can be the biggest time suck and if they are able to pile up it could quite easily cost me half of my Saturday just getting the laundry done, and dishes washed.
My weekend mornings are when my Son is at his bright and cheerful best. So keeping this time free is my top priority.
This means keeping up with the smaller tasks through the week as they arise. This requires a little more discipline (and I can’t really handle too much mess anyway) and I have to pick my moments so that it does not eat into the day to day time I have with my Son.
He takes his time eating breakfast in the morning and is very focussed on his food. This allows me to get things in order before we leave the house in the morning. Evenings I am not as productive as I am tired from work, but it does give me a small window of me time.
I have not done this yet, but I am considering the idea of getting some house help to take care of the larger tasks like scrubbing a bathroom, or vacuuming the house. You could have someone take care of this once a month for a very reasonable cost. This frees up not only your time, but it makes it stress free!
The dollars per hour compared to the extra time with my Son is a no brainer.
Go Somewhere New Twice a Month
The most exciting days out for both of us is when we visit somewhere he has not been before. He loves to explore, and I get as excited as he does to show him around and explain his new surroundings.
Sharing these new experiences raises the quality of the time we spend together, we always get some great photos and just enjoy the experience.
It also forces you to get to know your home city once again. We often visit places that I have not been to since I was a kid myself. Other weekends when the weather is nice I might throw him in the carrier and go for a hike in the mountains, or go the opposite direction and head to the beach.
Keeping some variety in our activities have me looking forward to the weekends much more, and my Son seems happy too.
Every other weekend we don’t venture further than the local park or shopping mall so that I have some time to recharge the batteries at home.
By taking some time out to prepare a meal plan, and get the food preparation out of the way on a Sunday afternoon it takes on extra thing off my plate through the week. I can then go into auto pilot and be comfortable that the family is well fed.
If you have not done this, give it a try and see just how much head space is cleared up when you no longer have to ask yourself each night what should I cook?
On a Sunday my Son would normal have a long sleep after a morning at the park wearing himself out. This gives me a great window to get this done.
When he is awake he still loves to help. This does slow me down a bit, but I can usually prop him up on the kitchen bench and he will watch me with great curiosity, and munch on crackers. So it is an activity that we can also share.
If you are stuck for meal prep idea there are plenty of videos on YouTube to get you started. You will be amazed how much you can get done in a short space of time!
In a perfect scenario I would be able to drop a day or two from my day job and have more time at home, and reduce the reliability on day care. Until this happens I have to make a conscious effort to be available for my Son as much as possible.
The balance is just not right at the moment. I have to try and avoid the guilt that I feel for this and channel it towards making the best of things. With the above steps I think we can manage well enough, and soon I can move to get the balance right.
We all still have to earn a living at the end of the day, but that should never come at the expense of the bond you have with your child.
My name is Giselle and I left the corporate world to become a full time Mom of a beautiful boy, and Editor of katherinerosman.com. This is a small site that we are growing quickly with the aim of becoming a central resource for Mom’s that will provide actionable advice and info guides. I have found so much support through online Mom communities and I am grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to the information that is out there, and hopefully help others in their own journey along the way.