Working mothers often face a tremendous amount of guilt when the time comes to place their children in childcare. Even if you are excited about returning to work after the birth of an infant or an extended leave to stay at home, the stress of leaving your child with a stranger and the realization that most of your day will be spent away from your child can wreak havoc on your emotions.
I came across an interesting article that was written back in the 1990s, but really the information pertains to working mothers today as well. The issues haven´t changed in the past ten or so years. We are still concerned that we are not spending enough quality time with our children. We are still frustrated that we don´t have enough time to keep an immaculate house, bring home a paycheck, cook a five-course meal, and spend hours playing and doting on our children. We are still overworked and underpaid for all that we do, and, a lot of times, we feel unappreciated as well.
One tip that the author, Dr. Scarr, mentioned was to spend time with your child reading books about daycare and talking about daycare before sending your child to the new setting. This will help alleviate fears that your child may have. Also, take your child along to tour the facility and meet the teacher and students beforehand, so that he is familiar with the setting before he has to stay.
And when you do leave, the author says, don´t panic when your child cries. I can recall leaving my daughter in the church nursery while I attend a parenting class. She must have cried for what seemed like hours, but it lasted only five minutes or so. When she stopped I walked away (I´d been hiding in the shadows), but upstairs I told a friend of mine about her crying episode and my friend offered to check on her. When she returned, she said that my daughter was happily playing with the toys, oblivious to the fact that I was no longer there. Children oftentimes adjust rather quickly, though some do take longer to feel comfortable in daycare settings.
Let your child know that you will be back. And never, ever sneak away. Once, I left the house while my daughter was taking a bath. I didn´t think of it as sneaking away. Instead, I had to go and her daddy was bathing her, so I said goodbye and left. For several weeks after that incident, she would scream and cry when she was taken to the tub and I wasn´t in the room. We realized later that she was afraid I was going to leave while she was in the tub.
Dr. Scarr also listed several great tips to allow you to find time for yourself. One includes hiring the amount of help that you can afford to hire. If you can afford to have someone come to your house and clean each week, do it. It will allow you to spend more time with your family, so don´t feel guilty in the indulgence. Stop and get take-out sometimes, so that you don´t have to go home and spend half an hour cooking and half an hour cleaning up.
Also, to help create some "alone time´ for you and your spouse, create a babysitting co-op with other parents in your neighborhood. Swap babysitting once a month; take a neighbor´s kid overnight so that they can have a date and your children can have playdates, and then the parents of the child can return that favor once a month so that you and your husband can enjoy a much-needed date night.
To read more of Dr. Scarr´s tips, visit her website at http://www.heall.com/mind/parent.html.