Advice Column, Pregnancy & Baby, Toddler, Toptots

When I have to go back to work

You know the day is coming.  You think about it every spare moment. You dread it.  What to do with your little one when you go back to work!

Let’s face it, very few parents are lucky enough to have the financial means to let mom stay at home for a number of years before junior starts play school. In an ideal world we would all love to be stay at home mommies. The reality is that with our economic climate two incomes are often needed to keep the ship afloat.

Now that we have faced the reality and know there is no other option, what do we do about baby?  In your circle of friends and family you will have such conflicting advice that you will most probably end up even more confused.  The voices shout “Send him to day care, my Mia went and she loved it.”  “Keep him home with a nanny, Zack thrived.”  In the end you have to choose the option that works best for you as a family.  To help you decide let’s take a closer look at both options.

The day care – You should preferably be looking for a small group. A day mother, who only has four or five little ones in her care is best, a home away from home.  If this option is not available you need to visit day care centres and see what the ratio is to caregiver and baby.  Does this care centre cater for older children as well?  If so, are the babies separated from the toddlers at all times.  Toddlers are curious about how eyes work and don’t mean harm but will investigate.  What do they offer in terms of stimulation for your baby?  Take a close look around and check that there is not row upon row of seating devices. This would be an indication that your baby will spend very little time playing on the floor.  This could lead to later developmental delays and learning problems.  Remember although we do want a nice clean environment I would rather have the caregiver barefoot and sitting on the floor playing with my child, than making sure that there are no toys lying around. 

Children who attend day care and play groups get sick. Many parents don’t have other support systems and send their children to school even if they are not well.  Are you prepared for this?  

The one argument that is always given is that the baby needs to be socialised. This will happen in good time.  Babies love other babies but learn interaction from us at first.  It’s only closer to three that that start to play with each other, interacting on a social level. There is some research that shows that toddlers in play groups start this slightly earlier however there is no evidence that this makes them more socially skilled later.

Keeping baby at home is not less scary for a parent. The horror stories are out there as well.  Why then would I choose this option?

Your baby is in his own environment, sleeping in his own cot during the day. This helps during the night sleeps as he is familiar with his room. He has one caregiver that dotes on him. He is receiving one on one stimulation and attention. If you already have someone in your employ that is suitable, have her trained. There are many such facilities country wide that do CPR, and child care certificates.  Watch how she interacts with your baby while you are still at home. If employing someone new make sure she is already trained, has spent time looking after babies and that you feel comfortable with her. Ask for references and follow them up.  

Keeping him home for the first year or two allows him to have his own routine. For him to play freely and not be restrained in a walker or sitting device for extended periods.  You can dictate what he plays with and where he plays.  The biggest bonus is that there is less chance of him getting sick. If choosing to keep him home make sure that you have contact numbers at the phone for you, your husband and other family members.  

But, as always no amount of research can tell you what is best for your family.  No one’s experience is the same.  Ultimately it’s a decision that only you can and should make. Don’t be influenced by peer pressure.

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