Ugh, this was a day I was dreading.
I am grateful to report that I was able to take a five month maternity leave. As any mother will say, it was far from a vacation, but a special time that I wouldn’t have traded for anything. It was the month prior that my son was sleeping through the night and I was pumping like a crazy person so store up enough milk so that I could keep that going while I went back to work.
Near the end of my first trimester, I started the daycare search, and in the San Francisco Bay Area (and assuming lots of major cities), it was not an easy process. After tours, applications, and google searches, he was finally on two waiting lists with no idea of when (once he was here) would even have space to take him.
Even as the end of my maternity approached, he still did not have a spot. So, in month four of five, I panicked a bit and started to reach out to friends and contacts to see if anyone knew of a great daycare that was accepting new kids. Thankfully, I was referred to one in the city a home daycare. A mother and daughter that had their neighborhood daycare in business for a few decades. So, I reached out and set up a visit.
My mother in law was visiting at the time, and she stayed home with the baby so that I could run over and meet them. I was a nervous wreck! Thankfully, it was less than a mile from work, and in a neighborhood that I was comfortable with. But, after leaving the home and walking back to my car. I just stated crying, balling crying to be exact. She was great and the visit went well, it was just the thought of having to drop him off somewhere and that he won’t be with me all day that broke my heart. I was a mess. I got home, started crying again and my mother in law just got up and hugged me.
I can’t say that it ever got easier to take him to daycare, the routine and adjusting to a new schedule did. But, I was so very thankful that my boss was understanding, accommodating, and flexible. For the first few months, I was able to leave early to pick him up and get him home for his last nap of the day. Since he was close, I was also able to pop over at lunch and go visit him on days where I was really having a hard time.
The daughter in charge was so very sweet, she knew what a hard time I was having. She was communicative, followed my instructions, and always kept me posted on his day. That was a saving grace for me, I will forever be thankful for how she respected me as his mother and made me feel comfortable!
If you are at the point when you are returning back to work, here are my tips for surviving:
- Find a daycare or caregiver that aligns with your parenting style. While there are some daycares they will want you to fit into their schedules and ways of doing things, most will help you, accommodate and work with you to do what is best for your child. This will really help you to at least feel comfortable with your babe in someone else’s care for the day.
- Make sure to get morning and pre-bedtime quality time in with your babe. If the before and after work time is all you have, then save the chores and to do list for when your babe is sleeping. It can be so tempting to wake or get home and see everything that you have to do. But I highly recommend soaking up all the snuggles, book reading, and play time.
- Pack the night before. The only way I was ever able to get out of the house on time in the morning was to get my work bag, pumping supplies and his daycare bag prepped and ready the night before. I would also get the pumped milk bags labeled and ready and his bottles washed. Once he was getting solids, I also would set aside so that in the mornings, I could grab & go!
- Photos. Any chance I got during my work day, I would stare at his photos on my phone and watch his videos. Also, since I was pumping 3 times a day, I would hook up and stare at that little face! Even though I was missing him all day, those moments made me smile!
- Enjoy the little things. Even though I wanted to be home with my son, and struggled with that for a year. It was really nice to get back to a hustle, to have days where I could have lunch with a co-worker, catch up on the latest and greatest, and morning trips to get my Starbucks tea. I often felt guilty for enjoying those things, mom guilt is real! But, it is important to have those moments in any day! It’s ok to enjoy that solo time.