No one said being a parent was easy. No matter what you do, you always have the niggling feeling that you did the wrong thing by going back to work, staying at home, or even finding a hybrid version. You feel like you are missing out on your child’s biggest moments and milestones, even if they are just something small like cutting another tooth or learning to wink.
But going back to work is a reality for many North American parents who find it difficult to live off one income, and the pressure of progressing in their career is great. While you might want to just keep living in denial that those sweet days with babe are coming to an end quickly, you can also face the facts and slowly prepare yourself and your child for your return to work.
Practice Bottle Feeding/Sippy Cups
Regardless of whether your child will be staying home with grandma or going to daycare, being able to hydrate is usually a requirement for them being away from you for an extended period of time. If you are still feeding breast milk, make sure that your little one still takes a bottle, and if you are past this point, a sippy cup is key. As a parent, you might also have to invest in a breast pump to continue being able to give your child milk even when you are at work.
Cook Ahead/Meal Box it
Especially during those first few weeks, you’ll be craving time with your child whom you seemingly haven’t seen all day. To give yourself some extra time in the evenings, cook some extra meals now to keep in the freezer or look for a subscription for ready to cook meals for the whole family. That way you don’t have to worry about meal planning or grocery shopping! The bonus part is that you can still cook your meal boxes together as a bonding experience!
Talk About It
Though your little one might not understand everything you are saying yet, talk to him or her about what’s going on. During the day mention things that they will enjoy while they are in child care, and how you will be thinking of your baby all the time. It will honestly be a better help for you than your baby, but it’s all about positivity!
Do a Playdate
Your daycare might offer for you to come in with your son or daughter a few weeks before the official start to see how he or she does in this new environment. They get to see the toys, you get to see how the educators interact with the children, and hopefully this will give you a glimpse into what the day will look like for them. Alternatively, if this visit isn’t an option for you, plan some other play dates or interactive meetings at events in the library, etc. It will get your baby used to seeing other children and being around them, making the transition easier later on.
Normalize Nap Times
If there is a strict naptime schedule at your child care, ask them what it is so that you can already start adjusting your child to their schedule. Your baby’s caretakers will love you for it, and you can breathe a little easier knowing that your child is well rested and in tune with the rest of his or her peers.
Going back to work as a parent is difficult for everyone but doesn’t have to be painful or a disaster. If you prepare for it well in advance, the transition will be fluid and you’ll have a happy, social child looking forward to seeing you and spending quality time with you.