Going back to work?
When you have a baby, your whole world turns on its head. You’re no longer just you; you’re you-plus-baby. Babies have this uncanny way of hearing you think “ahh, finally got a routine sorted; I can relax a little” – and saying “oh no you don’t!”
Your return to work after your baby is born – no matter whether that’s after 6 weeks, 6 months or even a year – can have a dramatic impact on your baby’s routine, especially where sleep is concerned. Whatever your routine, whether you’re cuddling baby all day and night, or following a more strict method, anything that upsets the balance – however little, however gradually – will cause upset for your baby. Your baby was inside of you for nine months, and since then has been in your arms or close by. She has been used to your closeness, your smell. She has learned certain patterns of behaviour, such as “when I cry, my mum will come and cuddle me.” Now, when she cries – somebody else picks her up. Someone else changes her nappies, someone else soothes her to sleep. Baby will of course get used to this new routine, but there are some things you can do to help that transition.
Prepare yourself for a new routine
Spend time practising the new routine before it is put into action. If returning to work means getting up and out of the house earlier in the mornings, try to do this – and just go for a walk or something once you’re up and ready to go. This will mean when it’s time to go back to work, it won’t be such a big change for baby. It will also help baby settle into an adjusted sleeping routine with different times for waking and napping. A gradual change should help to iron out some kinks before you “go live” with actually going back to work.
Consider your choice of carer; ensure they have similar values and beliefs to you. If you’re going down the route of attachment parenting, with lots of holding and cuddles, you don’t want to then leave your child with someone who is more inclined to leave a child to “cry it out.” If your baby is used to having a particular type of response, try to keep that the same. Spend time with the new carer, explaining what you do at certain times, whether baby prefers this or that lullaby at nap time. Give your carer as much information and detail as possible so as to make the change less jarring for baby.
Try to spend as much time as possible with baby before and after work; try and reassure him that you’re still here, you’re still Mama. Try to make time for some cuddles before work in the mornings, so that it’s not just a mad rush out of bed and off to the childminder or nursery. Make bed time a special time with lots of cuddles and reassurance.