With all the pre-planning in the world, when the time comes for you to return to work you will naturally be feeling torn between your child and your commitment to work. Your feelings are likely to be a mixture of sadness, anger and guilt.
It is only natural to feel upset at the prospect of leaving your baby or toddler when you return to work after having spent virtually all your time in the last few months or years caring for their every need. Along with that sadness you may feel a touch of jealousy at no longer being the person your child spends most of their time with and guilt at leaving them in the charge of someone.
Preparing both you and the child for the transition is important, and this needs to start a few weeks before you return to work.
Preparing Yourself and Your Child for your Return to Work
Not all children are the same and they need to adjust to not spending all their time with you and build their confidence to spend time with others and in new environments.
- In the weeks leading up to returning to work familiarise your child with being left with others for short and gradually longer periods. This could be with your parents or a baby-sitter or a friend.
- Take your child to play groups or round to friends so that he or she can get used to the company of other children.
Both these things will help your child adjust more easily to being left in a nursery or with a carer when the times comes, and also make you feel more confident about leaving him or her in the care of others.
- Prepare your child’s bag and your work things the night before, so you don't both feel stressed in the mornings.
- Leave enough time to ensure you can settle your child in before leaving for work.
- Ask for a progress update from your carer, each day, to reassure you and check on your child's comfort level with the new environment.
- Call the nursery if you have any particular concerns during the day.
- Let your child see you are upset when you leave them. Children are sensitive to your feelings; your apprehension will project onto them and could cause them distress and insecurity after your departure.
- Ring all the time to see how they are doing.
- Be too hard on yourself, your feelings are a natural reaction and it will take time for you to adjust to balancing work and child responsibilities.
- Feel guilty about enjoying going back to work and re-gaining some of your independence!
You may also feel jealous towards your carer's position - this is a natural reaction. It is healthy for children to learn to trust others and form other close relationships. There is no reason why this should undermine your own special relationship.
If you are worried then look for ways you can reinforce your bond with your child when you spend time together, through play and other activities.