I remember that day. The first time I left my son at daycare. Gaaaahhhhh. It was awful. Excruciatingly painful. I cried. My hands were glued to his camo onesie, not wanting to let him stay with this lady who would get to have 8 hours of his life that I would miss out on. Whhhhyyyyy? To work? My mommy guilt was SO intense. No one could ever care for him like his mommie. I didn’t want to miss any smiles or laughs. I just wanted to watch him for hours and be the one to hold him when he took his bottle. I didn’t even mind changing poo diapers. He was my baby.
Guess what? He’s still my baby. Going back to work didn’t change that. All those anxieties? Ridiculous. Putting your child in daycare so you can go back to work is not a sin, so rid yourself of the shame and despair.
Leaving Your Kids at Daycare IS Hard
While I admit leaving my son was such an amazingly difficult transition that first day, first week, first month, and even first year at daycare, it got easier. And I learned two profound things about the daycare dilemma:
- When you ‘invest’ in your child’s ‘education’ at a reputable ‘school’, the teachers know what they’re doing. Meaning, your children will learn from an infant age and become so well-prepared and far-advanced for elementary school, from educational and socialization aspects, that you won’t regret your decision to go back to work. Because it’s a win-win solution. You not only earn money to contribute to your family and sharpen your saw, but you give your child an early education from teachers who truly love kids. Again, heavy on the reputable school. Not all daycares and/or teachers are created equal.
- Going back to work made me a better mom. When you feel confident, valuable, and fulfilled, your family reaps the benefits.
So, if you’re considering work following maternity leave, or if you’ve been a SAHM for a while …
Choosing a Daycare/Preschool
Here’s my advice for selecting the right school for your little prince or princess:
- Ask other moms you trust and respect. There’s really no better information than word-of-mouth referrals from other moms who’ve been there, done that. Plus, they’ve done most of the figuring-stuff-out and can save you a lot of time. All you’ll have to do is confirm the accuracy of the info to see if it’s a good fit for your family.
- Research online. If a daycare or preschool has more bad reviews than good reviews on the Internet, you should definitely address that with the Director of the facility you’re considering, but I’d likely remove that school from my list. Sure, there are a lot of people who have nothing better to do than write negative stuff online, but again, if you find way more negative than positive online, it’s probably not a good choice for your child. If you are the above-and-beyond type of lady, ask the daycare/preschool in question for testimonials from existing families who can talk to you in person and provide real, honest feedback.
- Tour several facilities for comparison purposes. Seeing is believing, so seeing where your child will spend their days while you work is important. Meet the teachers. Ask questions. Observe the different age-appropriate rooms. Are the toys newer and clean, or dirty and ratty? Does the facility smell good or bad? A good facility will deep clean with bleach water throughout the day. What accreditations does the facility have? What are the child-teacher ratios? Do the infants sleep in actual cribs? Do they share cribs with other babies, or does each baby have their own crib? What is each class’s daily schedule? What is the teacher turnover rate? Do you bring meals or does the facility provide meals? Do you bring diapers or does the facility provide diapers?
- Your child will make some of their first friendships at daycare. When selecting a facility, be incredibly comfortable with the teachers, environment, tuition, etc. – because this is a long-term thing. Your kid could potentially go to this daycare facility for five years, or beyond if you use them for after-school care when your child begins elementary school. You don’t want to move your child in and out of different daycares. Babies, toddlers, and young children need structure and a routine. Make the best choice of schools for your little one and plan to stick with it for their consistency needs.
Mom Going Back to Work is a Win-Win Situation
I believe this so much that I’m going to say it again. Mom going back to work can be a win-win solution for your family. Of course, this is what worked for me, but you always, always have to do what’s right for you and your family. But the purpose of this blog is not to shame you one way or the other. It’s to alleviate mommy guilt for those who choose to go back to work, or provide insight for those mommies considering a career.
A few months after I went back to work following maternity leave, I took a new leadership position. C-R-A-Z-Y. Why would I do that when I’m still transitioning to being a new mom, let alone a working mom? Sure, add on more stress and pressure.
But that’s how life works. Timing doesn’t happen when I want it to. Never. But let me tell you. Taking on that leadership position, where I became responsible for getting myself ready, my son ready, dropping off at preschool, then getting to work on time AND being responsible for other people, proved to be a major challenge.
But you know what?
I put the smackdown on that challenge and realized I can do awesome things … and STILL be a mom.
And so can you.
Just Do It Already
No matter your reason for wanting to go back to work, just go back to work already. Seriously. Go. Back. To. Work. Your kid(s) need to learn to adapt socially and acquire interpersonal skills. Don’t make your kid into the kindergarten class a-hole because you wanted him home with you, yet you spent most of your time on Facebook or playing Candy Crush and now he can’t communicate with different personalities and will struggle during his professional life because of your decision to keep him home.
You are not being selfish or a mean mom if you go back to work.
Even if you decide not to go back to work for a while, I still recommend that you get your little one into some kind of learning environment. They really need to observe and learn from other kids. Interpersonal skills truly need to be developed early. And going back to work is good for you. You will be resilient and dynamic and gain so much confidence that it will spread to your family. Your husband will love that you take some of that financial pressure off his shoulders, and he will love seeing you shine and feeling happy. And your kids will see that mom is really amazing at literally everything. You are a rock star who gets stuff done!
Kids of Working Moms are Smarter
Just in case you need more convincing, check out the working mom stats on this working mom infographic. Kids of working moms are smarter!!!
No More Working Mom Guilt
I shared with you what worked for me and my family. At the end of the day, I can’t say it enough times — do what’s right for you. But, if you’re not going back to work because you’re scared or nervous about re-entering the workforce, stop that mess. Silence that voice in your head and confront your fear like a bulldozer in front of a brick wall. You can do whatever you put your mind to, and knock down any brick walls that try to stand in your way.
Yes, there will always be employers in need of your skills. Even if you are just good at talking to people, there’s a place for you. If you’re good at computers, there’s a place for you. Even if you’ve had a massive gap in your resume, there’s a place for you. Social Media can help with that. Another post, another day.
But for realz, you had a baby for goodness sakes. Whether you delivered naturally or by cesarean, you built a freaking human inside your body!! If you can build a baby, I’m sure you can handle being a working mom. Sans guilt.
So, ladies, come at me. Are you a proponent or opponent of daycare and/or going back to work?