For most of us, going back to work after a baby isn’t an option.
Whether we need the income or need a breath of fresh air and like doing what we do, whether it’s after 6 weeks or 6 months, most of us will end up working outside of the home for at least part of the day.
And that means sending our babies out to a babysitter or daycare.
In most situations, there aren’t a whole lot of options; and there usually isn’t a whole lot of flexibility either. Most in-home babysitters have been doing things the way the do things for a while, and aren’t always able or willing to accommodate every single baby that comes in. Unfortunately, it’s normal to see babysitting groups that number upward of 7 babies all in one room being taken care of by one adult (and I could hardly just take care of my TWINS!).
In an official daycare, the staff to baby ratio will be higher, but they have other regulations and guidelines that they need to follow, which can make an ideal sleep situation tough for a little baby.
So what’s a mom to do? Do you have to choose between a well-rested baby and a job?
Definitely not! But you may have to put in some work beforehand to make sure that you’re set up for success.
To set yourself up for success, before you even go back to work and bring your baby to the babysitter, try to do some research. Who is in your area that would be an option for you to send to? If you can try to talk to them or someone else who sends there to find out some info (aside for the usual “how much does she charge?”).
Some things to find out might be:
-How many children does she have there? How old are they? Does she have anyone else there helping her?
-What do babies do there during the day? Is she interacting with them at all, or are they just in their carseats the whole day?
-What are her napping accommodations? Do they have a dark room that sleeping babies can be in? How many areas? Will she be worried about your baby waking other babies or other babies waking yours?
-Is she open to doing things differently than she may have in the past?
-Will she be able to notice your baby’s tired signs?
-Will she be able to keep your baby up while on a bottle?
-Will she be able to track your baby’s awake time to make sure he doesn’t get overtired (a big problem with newborns!)
-If she has multiple ages of children, does she put newborns in a separate area than older children?
Make it work
If you’re already sending your baby to a babysitter, already agreed to send him somewhere or only have one option in the area, here are some things you can do to get your babysitter on board:
Talk; don’t attack. Brainstorm ideas to make it work with your babysitter. Remember that she has a job, and she knows how she is good at doing it; a mother coming in with a new set of rules can be daunting, overwhelming, or sometimes impossible. You’re both on the same side, so by coming in with a calm, level-headed approach, she’ll be more likely to try to accommodate you.
Do what you HAVE to (and it’s okay if the rest slides). The two main things that I focus on maintaining are: preventing overtiredness and preventing an eat-sleep association. Ideally, baby should be falling asleep completely independently at the babysitter as well (no pacifier or rocking), but kids are really great at figuring out which “rules” match up with which caregiver, so most babies tend to be fine at falling asleep independently at home even if the babysitter is, for example, rocking her to sleep (yes, that really happened with one of my clients!).
Get Creative. If she doesn’t have a separate room for your baby, you can hang up 3M Commando Hooks from the ceiling and use a curtain/shower curtain/old sheet to create a cheap, easy make-shift partition. Or maybe there’s a spare bathroom your baby can sleep in. Don’t be afraid to think of something radical that will make it work!
Don’t stress about cutting naps short
During the newborn stage, there’s really no such thing as a “schedule” – newborns are just too immature for that. If your baby can have a real first nap at home before you take her out, that’s great. If not, it’s okay if you have to wake her from her first nap so that you can go to the babysitter. (Better that she should be woken from her first nap than that she should be overtired when she falls asleep!)
And, it works the same in the other direction too – your babysitter shouldn’t worry about putting your baby in to bed shortly before you arrive. If you have to wake her to take her home, that’s fine.
So what was your experience? What did you do with your baby when you went back to work that did or didn’t work? Let me know in the comments below.