Updated: Aug 15, 2019
Men can and do take maternity leave as well, but for the sake of common practice I have written this blog for women. There are similar experiences, worries and concerns for men staying at home looking after a baby.
As soon as baby is born many women spend the early days of maternity leave counting down the days until their baby's next development. Constantly looking forward to when baby can stay awake for longer, smile, start to crawl, walk and talk etc. However, too soon these days appear along with the demand for returning to work. It is common then for women to feel nostalgic for those early days with baby and wish to enjoy them again.
Women can feel immense guilt when they return to work or just as guilty if they delay returning. It is common to worry about the effects on baby, your relationship, your time together and your career. Many women spend hours wondering the answers to these questions:
Should you return to keep your career going or are baby's first few years more important?
Can you afford to delay returning to work?
If you return to work who is best to look after baby?
These are your options:
Family care - If you have family living nearby, or who are able to travel and help.
Nanny - Someone who lives with you and cares for your child.
Childminder - Someone near you who is registered with Ofsted.
Nursery - Near your home or work, also registered and approved by Ofsted.
Each option has different benefits and disadvantages and sometimes you will only have one option that works for you. Within them you often have to then choose the appropriate nursery, childminder or nanny. Family help can seem like a simple solution but can then become more complex when you consider possible payment, rules and treats to agree on and if they can follow your desired routine. However, with family it is often an easier solution for everyone as you usually trust them more, they often dote on your little one and you get to see more of your family.
It can help to time it right with separation anxiety to ease the transition to other care. Separation anxiety starts about 6 months and peaks between 10 and 18 months. It generally calms down by the time they reach 2 years of age. Although, it is possible to settle a child into a new routine of carers at any age as long as it is done gradually, thoughtfully and takes into account the personality and character of the child.
Some people think that parents whose children are cared for by someone else find the demands and tantrums of toddlers easier to manage as both the adults and children have a break from each other and refuel.
Being away from parents can also help prepare children for nursery and school, enabling them to realise that they can cope on their own and enjoy spending time with other children and adults.
Of course, they will generally have to go to school eventually and some consider it best to leave the separation until absolutely necessary.
For mums, it is normal to feel like your identity becomes lost in a tidal wave of washing, cooking, cleaning, baby and mum groups and disturbed nights. Some women feel they can parent better if they have time in the week to be another identity and achieve different things back at work.
The best solution is to discuss this at length with your partner or family and consider the impact of each option on baby, mother, father and carers.
Sometimes your head and heart have different ideals and it takes a while to figure out what will work best for the moment and what is the best solution, long-term.
It is always possible to trial an option as well and make changes if it doesn't feel right.
Swaddling To Toddling Antenatal Course
To discover more about becoming a mother and father join a Swaddling To Toddling antenatal class in Bristol. Find out how your own childhood can affect you as a parent and learn useful strategies for sustaining and enhancing your relationship as couple. Book online now to secure your place.