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Leaving a young baby for 10+ hours a day

(450 Posts)
kcj748 Mon 25-Jul-11 12:00:42

I am about to have my first baby in November and plan to return to work full time four or five months later. I am incredibly nervous about leaving my baby at this age for such a long amount of time. I don't have the option of working part time so this will be five days a week for at least ten hours a day. My husband works even longer hours. A family member could possibly help out one day a week but we would mostly have to do childcare. My salary will only just cover a full time nanny but I love my job and really wouldn't want to have to let it go. Ideally we would be leaving our baby with a childminder but I have no idea at what age this is realistic and am terribly nervous about leaving my baby at someone else's house and with someone won't be able to give him exclusive attention.

Is it completely insane to think any of this will be possible? Does anyone have any advice about childminders/nurseries and other possible options?

thermosflask Mon 25-Jul-11 12:05:37

You are going to leave your 5 month old baby with someone else for 10 hours a day, 5 days a week? Are you serious or is this a wind up? I am appalled, poor, poor, little baby. You love your job more than your little baby, and your baby sure as hell needs you far more than your employers do.

I know you're not going to like what I've said but I am entitled to express my opinion since you have posted on a public forum.

fraktious Mon 25-Jul-11 12:08:15

It will be harder for you than for your baby. As long as you get a good carer (and I would pick a nanny or a CM who doesn't work to capacity) then your baby will thrive.

A nanny will cost more than just their salary. Could you consider a nanny share? However they do come with significant advantages, not least that you can leave in the morning and come back at night without having to drag your child to/from the CM and they'll do baby's laundry, bedmaking, cleaning and if you ask really nicely they'll pick up the odd pint of milk.

A CM could be a good cost-effective option but you would need someone prepared to offer long hours, you don't get any of the advantages of having the childcare in your home (such as nursery duties) and you have much less control over what your baby does during the day. Plus most CMs only have 1 under 1s space so you would need to look around early.

Why only take 4/5 months off? That's not intended as a criticism btw - I'm officially back at work today and DS is 13 weeks, but I'm very lucky in that I can do most of what I need to from home until the teaching term starts again, by which time he'll be 4 months. Of course by officially I mean that DS is napping in a sling and I'm on MN rather than writing up the research I'm supposed to....

omletta Mon 25-Jul-11 12:10:34

I left mine from 3 months between 8am and 6pm, six days a week, lots of people (well lots who I knew) did then as maternity rights weren’t so generous and like you it was a case of needs must. I personally used a childminder initially and then used a kindergarten from age 3, then a nanny for the early years at school, now we are back with a childminder as he’s at an age where company is important for him. I might be bias but I think I have a well balanced son with whom I have a great relationship.

I would say trust your instincts with regards to how you feel about childminders / nursery. Make sure that you allow yourself plenty of time to spend with the people who are looking after your child and plan a list of questions in advance. Finally don’t be too surprised if you don’t find it that difficult at all in the end, for me personally I was quite happy to go off and have adult conversations, whilst wearing nice clothes and not smelling of sick!

fraktious Mon 25-Jul-11 12:11:44

thermos some people can't afford to take additional maternity leave, be it for monetary or professional reasons. A few years ago this much leave would have been the norm and some countries offer significantly less.

kcj748 Mon 25-Jul-11 12:12:48

Thanks for your response. It's fair enough what you have said.

I have read a lot of other posts around in which people have gone back to work full time at six or so months so I didn't think it was so outrageous. However, my instinct was always that this would never work/that I would never be able to do it so I was surprised to read this. They made me feel like maybe it was possible

I absolutely do not love my job more than my baby and would of course give it up in a heartbeat if I had to. I just really wanted to feel out people's opinions on leaving children with nannies/childminders etc as ten hours seems like so much but I read so many things with people saying that they returned to work full time.

Thank you for being honest (if a little harsh) I really did want to hear what people honestly have to say as my husband seems to think it is possible but there is absolutely no way of knowing how I am going to feel until I have actually held my baby in my arms.

TheReturnoftheSmartArse Mon 25-Jul-11 12:13:35

Blimey, thermos - that's a bit harsh. 10 hours is completely for a working mum, I think. I had to drop my babies at nursery at 8am, commute almost an hour to work and back again leaving work at 5pm and I'd pick them up just before 6pm. They were fine and still are, aged 14 and 16. And I was only able to afford 4 months off with the first and 3 with the second. I don't regret it in the slightest. What I do regretting is working now that they're in their teens, but that's a different story. I had no choice but to work when they were babies - there was a recession and DH was working almost unpaid to get experience in his profession so we needed my salary.

OP, it won't be easy leaving your baby - it never is, but you'll survive, as will your baby, I promise!

JarethTheGoblinKing Mon 25-Jul-11 12:14:07

"You are going to leave your 5 month old baby with someone else for 10 hours a day, 5 days a week? Are you serious or is this a wind up? I am appalled, poor, poor, little baby. You love your job more than your little baby, and your baby sure as hell needs you far more than your employers do"

No judgement there then! hmm

OP, I left my DS at 10mo for 10 hours a day and he was OK. I actually wish I'd settled him a bit earlier as separation anxiety made it quite hard on him.

With such a young baby I would say have a look at local childminders, rather than nurseries (nothing against nurseries, just think a childminder might be more appropriate from this age)

thermosflask Mon 25-Jul-11 12:17:41

You can pay someone else to care for your baby, but you can't pay anyone to care about your baby. Have you read the book called "Love Matters - How Affection Shapes a Baby's Brain"? If not I strongly suggest you do. The damage done to a child will not manifest itself until they are adult, so don't comfort yourself that your neglect hasn't affected your child because he/she seems healthy/well adjusted as a child.

teacherwith2kids Mon 25-Jul-11 12:17:48

Wait till you have had your baby - then decide on how you feel.

I initially thought that I would be away from work for 6 months, a year tops .... and finally retrained for a new career when my first child was 7 ...

Do you have to work 10 hour days (as in, are those your contracted hours)? Or do you choose to, so you can choose to work shorter days and still retain a full-time salary (even if slightly damaging your short-term career prospects)? Is it travelling that makes the day so long, in which case can you find work closer to home / arrange to work from home one day per week / find childcare close to your place of work and at least have the company of your child when travelling? Do you have to return so early? is there any chance of extending your maternity leave, even if this is unpaid?

Equally, does your husband have to work such long days, or is this a choice he makes? For most people - not all, but most - there is a readjustment of priorities when their children are born. Things that were previously regarded as critical - keeping up with the macho long hours culture at work, rapiud career progression, keeping up with the work social life - become far less important, even irrelevant.

Soime people, however, never do become child-centred and do end up with childcare arrangements such as you describe. Nanny would be the best option as most childminders and many nurseries work 8-6 as an absolute maxiumum. People of my acquaintance do this - have a nanny 7 am - 8 pm every dayand have done since eldest child was tiny. I don't think it has had a healthy effect on the children, but each to their own.

kcj748 Mon 25-Jul-11 12:19:18

Many thanks to everyone else who has posted. It helped the shock a bit from my first response!

That said I am really glad everyone is being honest.

As much as I think I am going to find it ridiculously hard I am hoping it will be possible. I really feel like it is worth trying and then reassessing if it just doesn't work out.

I am new to mumsnet so it's good to know that not everyone thinks I am a monster! I imagine everyone on here loves their child/children enormously otherwise why would they be bothering to ask questions and read information.

Flippingebay Mon 25-Jul-11 12:20:27

I returned to work and left my DD for 10 hours a day, 5 days a week when she was 11 months old. I think it was much more of a wrench for me than it was for her.

I chose a childminder, rather than childcare as I wanted her to have direct contact with a more 'mature' carer, in a home/family environment rather than seeing different people in a slightly more 'formal' place. It comes with it's pro's and con's but my DD has grown up loving her childminder, she never complains or tells me she 'doesn't want to go' (she's now over 3) which is a huge help to me and for me peace of mind.

Just take your time and pick someone or somewhere you feel completely comfortable with.

thermosflask Mon 25-Jul-11 12:28:19

I suggest all of you on here who have left their babies with strangers at only a few months old for long periods of time, read the book I mentioned above. It's by Sue Gerhardt.

OP, if you are seeking information and want to make a fully informed choice about the decision you will be making, then you really need to read the book as it will inform you about the baby's perspective at being abandoned by it's mother. The baby cannot communicate how she/he feels at being left with a stranger, but you can read plenty of books that can educate you about this.

kcj748 Mon 25-Jul-11 12:28:50

thermosflask I think you are being a little harsh. I'm sure all the mums on here are fantastic parents, working or not. I really don't think it is as black and white as being a working mum means your child will grow up into a dysfunctional adult. I think despite differing arguments on all manner of issues on raising a child we'd all agree that loving your child is above all the most important thing and everything else is very much a matter of opinion.

idlevice Mon 25-Jul-11 12:33:01

Where I live they take babies as young as 6wks at long day care centres. I personally find it distressing as I know I couldn't have done it, even before having the baby, but it clearly works for some people's circmstances. Maybe it is worth looking at options for a later return or other alternatives in case you find you really cannot do it when the time comes? If that happened it would be easier to have some idea of the facts rather than trying to sort it whilst looking after the baby as well.

Also if it is purely for financial reasons have you definitely been honest about things? I say this cos I know a mother who constantly moans about how she has to go back to work as she can't afford not to, yet she has a new hair colour every month, they have two massive 4x4s, just rennovated a new house & go on at least two long haul holidays a year. It irks me as what she really means is that she cannot afford to go without those things.

JarethTheGoblinKing Mon 25-Jul-11 12:35:02

thermosflask, fine to have your opinion but stop being so bloody pushy!

What do you think parents had to do 10 years ago when maternity leave wasn't as generous as it is now? Staying at home isn't an option for many parents.


AllThreeWays Mon 25-Jul-11 12:35:16

Oh for goodness sake thermosflask, back off. You have given your point of view, and suggested one source that supports it.
Many women return to work, I am planning to when my baby is four months old. It is a necessity. BECAUSE I love my child and want to be able to feed it and put a roof over its head!
There was a thread/link on MN the other day OP that discussed a new study that suggested childcare for infants have minimal to no negative impact, and a working mother could have a positive impact for girl babies,

AllThreeWays Mon 25-Jul-11 12:36:27

Ah thanks Jareth, cross post. smile

thermosflask Mon 25-Jul-11 12:36:36

Your child in it's crucial first few months needs to feel loved, safe, secure, protected and cared for. I do not believe that a nanny/child minder, however well intentioned can meet your baby's emotional needs like it's mother.

I'm not concerned about being harsh to an adult. I'm far more concerned about a little baby who cannot communicate it's needs, and I will ALWAYS speak up on behalf of the child. If it seems harsh then maybe that's what's needed to jolt you all out of your complacency and selfishness.

JarethTheGoblinKing Mon 25-Jul-11 12:36:50

here's the thread AllThreeWays is talking about smile

SandStorm Mon 25-Jul-11 12:37:29

I agree with teacher. Wait until your baby is here and then see how you feel. I thought I would go back after six months after my first but I actually ended up being a SAHM for 9 years. That was my choice and I recognise that I was very lucky to be in the position to be able to make that choice.

Whatever you decide it will be for the best for you and your family and when baby has been here for a while you'll just know which route to go down.

JarethTheGoblinKing Mon 25-Jul-11 12:39:02

thermos, bog off and stop trying to turn this thread into a bunfight.

thermosflask Mon 25-Jul-11 12:40:00

Just because lots of mums return to work does NOT make it the right thing to do from the baby's point of view.

At least be honest about your choices. Admit that you are putting your needs above your baby's when you go back to work.

AllThreeWays Mon 25-Jul-11 12:41:36

How am I meeting my babies needs if we go hungry and are evicted?

FourThousandHoles Mon 25-Jul-11 12:42:50

it's not always about the mother's needs is it though thermosflask

sometimes it's a financial necessity - and I'm not talking haircuts and holidays I'm thinking more of rent;/mortgage and bills

are you suggesting that people shouldn't have children unless they can afford for one parent to give up work?

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