Being a Working Mother
For the majority of mothers who return to work after having a baby, the decision will be a hard one. Many mothers have no choice and go back to work out of financial necessity, especially in these times when families are faced with rising bills and uncertain financial prospects. Some women return to work because they want to save money for their child's future to enhance their prospects. About half of women return to work for financial reasons, and others return to work because they enjoy their work and feel happier when they work. Although the reasons for mothers returning to work varies, they have one thing in common: guilt, which is the legacy of the working mother.
Should I Feel Guilty?
If you're returning to work, it's important not to let yourself feel weighed down by guilt and regret that you're not spending more time with your child. Women who make the decision to return to work come to it because they decide it's the best thing for their family. Having some time away from your child can make you feel refreshed and ready to be the best mother you can be when you get home from work. Although it's hard not to feel guilty as you drop your child off with at nursery with their cries ringing in your ears, remember that they're in capable hands and you've chosen a caregiver that you trust. Carefully choosing your caregiver and ensuring you've chosen the best one for your child will help allay feelings of guilt. Children learn important skills at nursery or at a childminders, such as how to socialise. Instead of feeling guilty, channel your energies into making the most of the time you do have with your child.
Most parents, whether they work or not, wish they had more time to spend with their children, but other demands often get in the way. Dr Anthony P Witham once commented that 'children spell love...T.I.M.E'. Time doesn't necessarily mean long periods spent playing, which is difficult for working parents to achieve, but it does mean quality time.
The key to keeping your children happy and you guilt-free is to prioritising spending quality time with your children over less important things. Obviously the household chores need to be done, but try to slow down and don't worry too much about jobs that aren't essential for the running of the household. Instead of lamenting over not having enough time, think up ways you can 'make' time. Be creative with this; whenever you have to do something that takes you away from spending time with your child, think 'how can I get my child involved in this?'.
How Can I Maximise Time With My Child?
Some working parents hire cleaners so that they don't have to spend their time when they come home from work cleaning, rather than doing something fun with their child. You could also see if a laundry service fits into your budget. If you can't afford a cleaner however, try and make cleaning into a job you and your child can do together. Make it into a game: seeing how fast you can put toys into a box. Buy your child a toy broom so they can 'help' you sweep up. When sorting out the laundry, ask your child to help you put the clothes into piles and finding matching socks.
If your child is a baby when you return to work, make the most of your time together when you get back by putting her in a baby sling when you get back, so she can feel you close to her. If you need to read your emails or make a phone call, have her on your lap. If your baby is too old for a sling, if you need to make the dinner, carry her into the kitchen with you and put her in her baby chair, chat to her and play games such as peekaboo with the dishcloth as you go about your chores in the kitchen.
Make Dinner Time 'Special Time'
You can also enlist your child's help when cooking dinner: children love helping their parents cook, so choose meals your child can get involved in making too. If the meal you're cooking is too complicated for little ones to help with, give them a bowl of ingredients to stir and show them how to make cakes while you get on with the main course (for very young children, this works better if your partner can supervise!) Jobs normally take longer when you get your children involved, but by including your children, everyday tasks turn from chores into bonding time.
Double Up Dinner
When you cook, make double and freeze it so you can have it for dinner another day. This way, when you get home, you can just pop it in the oven, while you get on with spending time with your child.
Enjoy Breaks with Your Baby
In the evenings, if you have things to get on with, schedule in a break when you sit down with your child and spend quality time together, doing whatever your child wants to do, even if it's just for 15 minutes. If they're old enough to read a clock, tell them when you'll be free for some time with them.
Savour The Bedtime Routine
Make the most of your child's bedtime routine. Don't hurry them out of the bath or rush through their bedtime story. Savour and enjoy these activities, so your child knows this is a special time for both of you and so that they feel they've had quality one-on-one time with you.
Make The Weekends Special
When you're a working parent, the weekends provide two precious whole days you can spend with your children. Make the most of these days by devoting as much of the weekend as you can to spending quality time with your children. Let them know that at the weekend they can have your undivided attention and plan fun outings that you can enjoy together.