Friday, November 21, 2014

Learning to Balance Daycare and Bonding

I feel like I have adjusted fairly well to being a working mom but I still feel the hot sting of tears forming in my eyes as I leave my sweet little one at daycare. Buckner is doing great. He smiles at his teacher when he arrive in the morning and I can tell there is an evident shared affection.  He seems relaxed as I leave and appears to be thriving when I pick him up in the evenings.

The best part of the day, as I was told by other working parents, is picking him up at the end of the day and seeing his smile when I walk in the room. At first, the smiles of recognition were slow because of his age. Now at 15 weeks he definitely shows that he knows who his mommy and daddy are so when I walk in the room and say his name, I get an instant smile.

Each week has its high points and low points. The best part of this week is the latest development of giggling when I put him in his car seat to go home. I love his laugh. I feel like he is saying, "Yay mommy, let's go home and play!" The hardest part of this week was when I was leaving him in the morning and as I was walking out he pushed his head back as far as it could go in his swing to watch me leave. Seeing his sweet little eyes watch me walk out the door hurt my heart. I love my job and know that I want (and have) to work but in those moments, I just want to scoop him up and run home to our cozy routine we use to have during maternity leave.  But I continue on to work so I have come up with a few tips that help me cope with daycare because we all know it is the parents who cry the hardest with this transition!

1. Midday visits. Breaking up the day in four hour increments helped me a lot when I first started back to work when Buckner was with my mother. I continued to do that when I took him to daycare. Look for a daycare who welcomes the parents dropping in during the day. The first week, I went every day during the middle of the day for about 45 minutes. Now three weeks later, I have dropped down to about two or three midday visits that last about 10 minutes. The midday visits make me feel apart of his day. I also use this opportunity to visit with his teachers to develop a team type connection with the ladies caring for my little one all day. I feel anxious by the end of the day on the days I don't schedule a midday trip.  I know the midday trips will have to stop as he gets older because they will be more disruptive than helpful but it is helping me transition during the first few months and continue to feel like I am bonding as much as possible with my baby boy.

2. Don't rush. I get to daycare early each day and stay as long as I can with him. I want to be present for a few minutes to help him with the transition into the day. I also want to have casual moments again to chat with his teachers. I do this at the end of the day too. The first thing I do when I walk in is excitedly grab him up and cover him with kisses but instead of just rushing him into his carseat, I cuddle him as I talk to his teachers. These are the moments you get to know them as well as get important and sweet updates on your baby's day.

3. Wear my baby. In the last week I noticed I was feeling sad because when I got home there were tasks to be done and after playing with Buckner for a few minutes, we had to place him in a swing or his rock and play. My working mommy heart hurt once again as I just wanted to have more cuddle time but things had to be done. Granted, I have let my usual neat freak side slide a lot for a trade off of more Buckner time but some things just have to be accomplished on a daily basis. So this week I looked more into baby wearing as a principle of attachment parenting. This practice did not seem as critical to me while on maternity leave when I had plenty of time to sit and cuddle but now I need to make the most of every minute. Therefore, I ordered a sling from Sevenslings the other day. I am going to give baby wearing a try to see if I can maximize cuddle time instead of putting him in a swing.

4. Daily rituals. I can't stress enough the practice of making the most of the mornings and the evenings. Our early morning family time as we feed Buckner and chat over coffee in the dim light of the cozy morning is what gets me up after very little sleep. And our evening rituals of tummy time, bath, bottles and books is what we look forward to during the day. I read to focus on quality time if you are a working parent so I make sure to be fully present in each moment with Buckner (no tv or phone). I am starting to feel reassured that just because I can't be with him as much as I would like, he knows who his parents are and how very much we love him.
Smiling at mommy during my midday visit on my birthday

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