Most mothers dread going back to work after spending a year (or less in other countries) with their baby. I belong in the other group because I couldn’t wait to get back to a routine that doesn’t involve a baby. Don’t get me wrong, I love my son and I cherish every minute I have with him; but I also miss being an individual, having adult conversations, not having a baby in my arms wherever I go, and not needing to carry a diaper bag, snacks and toys around. Whenever I get asked about “how does it feel going back to work?”, “Are you going to miss him?” and I tell them “I’m excited” and “Not really”… I get the “Oh you are such an awful mom” look. I am not sure why the society somehow judges women who prefers going back to work and wanting a career; I really believe in work-life balance and if I want it enough.. I could have it all.
For those who are going back to work soon but totally not looking forward to it, hopefully my experience could inspire a bit of hope.
Tristan’s Experience with Daycare…
We’ve heard many stories about how it may be difficult for the infant (and sometimes the parents) to cope and how they get really sick with all the new germs so my husband and I decided to have Tristan start full-time daycare 3 weeks before I was officially back to work. For those whose never met my son… he’s a very chillax, social, playful, overall super cheerful baby (which may have an impact on how he responded to daycare). The week before he started daycare, we went to drop off his stuff (diapers, extra clothes, bottles etc.) When he saw the playroom and the kids, he immediately started exploring and refused to leave. When they served lunch, he looked at the caregivers with hungry eyes and they asked if he would like to stay for lunch. I agreed and he joined the rest of the infants for lunch. We ended up leaving 3 hours later because he had so much fun.
The first 2 weeks of daycare, we would drop him off and he wouldn’t even look back or cried. A lot of people think sending their kids to daycare means neglect, but for my son and I, we enjoyed our time together during mat leave but we were also ready to move on to the next stage in life.
Pros of Daycare…
- He started sleeping through the night (he used to wake up once for a bottle)
- He learnt a lot of new skills… clapping.. waving… walking… stacking etc.
- He interacts with other children and learns how to play with other people (adults included)
- Exposed to food that we don’t regularly cook at home (our daycare gets different catered food everyday… to name a few… chili, fish tacos, pasta etc.)
- You get daily report cards… I think they keep better reports of him than I do.
Cons of Daycare…
- Daycare tries to mold every kid to follow ‘their’ schedule. Every child at the daycare naps around 12… which was very different than the schedule Tristan was used to. It required a lot of coping (even after 6 weeks there are days he still passes out right after daycare and won’t wake up till the next morning).
- They get sick.. and the parents get REALLY sick. Whatever germs they have at the daycare.. the kids honestly bounce back in no time, but we adults take forever. I am still coughing from whatever Tristan had over 2 months ago…
- Because they have dedicated people who sits and plays with them full-time, Tristan now comes home expecting the same. Before daycare, he was content playing by himself in his play area, but ever since he started daycare, he now requires someone around him at all time.
For the Parents
Going back to work definitely made me a happier person because I feel more fulfilled. I am able to have some ‘my’ time, which makes the time spent with him even more precious. I look forward to picking him up after school, cuddling him, listening to him babble about his day, play games with him, and even feeding him. I would go through his pictures every now and then during the long work days, and show his latest videos to my coworkers. I actually have time to focus and put effort in my relationship with my husband again, and plan dates on Friday’s when we both have it off and Tristan is in daycare.
Once upon a time, I laughed at the parents who had to rush home from dinner because their kids had to go to sleep at 7-ish or 8… and guess who is one of those parents now?? With my husband and my work schedule.. everything works out great actually. I go to the gym at 6, work at 7:30, get off around 4:30 to pick him up from daycare; and my husband drops him off at daycare around 8:15, works out, then goes to work. Before Tristan and during mat leave, we’d go to bed around.. 11ish-2… but our new schedule requires us to start our day super early, so the lights are usually out at our house by 10.
And did I tell you I actually gained weight going back to work? Yep.. no more running around the house or after your kids, and sitting in front of a computer 8 hours everyday. That being said, you are also super tired after work every day, and then having to play and take care of your child is honestly a new level of being ‘exhausted’ (but very happy). I find myself getting super lazy with meal prepping for my husband and I (at least during the week), and weekends are packed with cooking for Tristan, ourselves (kinda), laundry and cleaning the house. I honestly have a new-found respect for parents with more than 1 kid and working because trying to balance it all is SUPER hard.
Although it’s been a bit of a roller-coaster… I am very glad to be back to work and the transition have been fairly smooth. Although we are super tired most of the time, we really wouldn’t change a thing because we can see the positive impact of him going to daycare, and me going back to work. For those who are dreading this day, I hope my experience may give you some comfort.
Thank you for reading!