Working full time: bad for your LO?(16 Posts)
I suppose i'm looking for reassurance really as i'm wracked with guilt and very sad about returning to work full time. DS is 7 months and i return to work in August and although i'm trying to enjoy every single minute i have left with my little boy, i know how quickly the time will pass and the thought of seeing so little of him is overshadowing the time i have left with him. DS will be going to the childminder for 37 hours per week in total, although my DH will pick him up early on Mondays (2pm) and he'll be back in his own home for another two afternoons per week as i'll be working from home and getting help from my parents and sister - so he'll still see me on those afternoons.
I read some articles that children of mothers who work full time do less well academically and can develop behavioural problems, which has added to the guilt i already feel. I know i've given him the best possible start in life and he's a very adaptable, healthy and happy little boy who clearly loves DH and myself but is not a clingy baby. I just feel awful that i'm somehow going to jeopardise both my relationship with my DS (will he end up loving the childminder more than me?) as well as his life chances because i'm not around enough. DH and i talked the other day and we've said that if i feel it's not working we'll sell up, downsize and perhaps i can do part time instead which is some comfort to me. I love my job and wouldn't want to give it up completely, but i'm so sad at the moment.
Any advice/ experience/ words of reassurance please?
No it's not true. What doesn't do them any good is having a miserable parent or being shoved form pillar to post with lots of different careers. As long as you are happy and LO is cared for by one or two trusted people your LO will be happy. Babies know who their parents are form a really young age so you don't need to worry about him not knowing who his Mummy is! Do enjoy your final weeks with your LO and when you return to work, do make time each day (bath/bed routine with reading a story etc is good) to enjoy being with them as well as plenty of one to one time at weekends.
The thing about academic problems is probably due to lack of parental help with school work, but again you have to find time for this, even if it's at weekends. Homework clubs at school and childminders can also help support a child's homework so it doesn't all come down to parental support - i suspect by teenage years the lack of a parent being at home to ensure the child is actually doing some work and not just sitting around watching tv etc might be an issue, but whether this is an issue at all will depend on how conscientious your child turns out to be!
I went back to work when my dd was 5 months old. She is absolutely fine, near the top of her class and bilingual. She is also very loving and affectionate, confident and independant. She can be a bit of a drama queen, and bossy though and is prone to sulk when not getting her own way though - noone is perfect.
I can't see that it has hurt her at all. She is 7 now. I think she has done more stuff with the creche and kindergarten than she ever would have done at home with me -especially as we would have been really poor on one income at that time, and that alone would have made me miserable. She is really good at making friends and is really confident in social situations - I was a total wallflower at that age.
I think guilt is pointless. The important thing is to ensure that the care setting your ds is going to is of a high standard. He won't love the childminder more than you - you are his mum. There are still evenings, and weekends and holidays to make up the time.
Well, maybe this will make you feel better: When my DD started school, the mums were all mostly of the full time stay at home type. (I was similar except a work at home mum.) Anyway, there was little girl - let's call her Sophie - who was unusual in the class as her mum worked long hours and was single. No one ever said much, but there was much sympathy directed at "poor" Sophie who spent so time in the care of others, not her own flesh and blood!
Well, fast forward 7 years and guess what? Sophie is flying! She's apparently top academically and in sports. Seems jolly happy all round by all accounts.
The key thing is what your DH said. You're going to watch it and if it's not working for your child, you'll do something else. (In our case school wasn't really working for us and we now home ed but there are no rules for what will suit all children.) I'd say do what will fit in with your family's needs and of course you will keep watch and change things if need be, but there's no rule to say working mums = problems. That's just nonsense.
mantana My DD (now 5.8) went to nursery at 11 weeks as we had no choice at the time, she thrived on it and it helped to make her a confident sociable little girl. She is now in FT education and my DH is a SAHD because that is what currently suits us. She is bright confident and near the top of her class. Do what is right for you, if you decide you are not happy then make the changes your husband suggests but give it a chance. It is better to have a child happy with childcare and happy parents than have a child at home because you feel guilty but you are miserable because you are not working and are managing on less income.
You will know what is right for you but you need to try it first, at 7 months he will remember very little of it so even if it isn't right and you decide as a family to make changes so you can stay at home , he won't remember being there at this young age.
I absolutely am feeling the same way, my DD is 9 months old now and I return to work fulltime this week. It's good to know I'm not alone. I'll try and let you know how I get on, after a few weeks.
Just a quick comment (my hobby horse) . Funny how the studies cite working mothers rather than fathers or two working parents ... shame that it's not more scientific or impartial , and focussed on parents. Fwiw all the children I know with working parents are fine, and much more independent than those with sahps.
hairylights - that is a very good point! Plus I think a working mother can be a really good role model - especially to dds. Mine has worked out already that in the future, when she is a teacher or a vet, Daddy and I will live next door and look after her children .
I have notice how independant my dd is, I have to say, but couldn't say whether that is down to circumstances or personality. I am always a little surprised when I see these threads where dcs (or parents) have never spent the night apart from their parents or away from home and there is much hand-wringing about the forthcoming residential school trip. My dd has been off on trips since she was 5 yo. Because she WANTED to go, I hasten to add - I have never pushed her. And it's me that is sobbing/feeling like I've lost an arm - she has always had a fantastic time.
Another thing I noticed is that as DH and I both get equal time with her, we work to our strengths. For example, he is loads better than me at doing jigsaws, lego, arts and crafts, board games. I tend to do more stuff out of the house, going to the park, meeting with other mums/kids, swimming, taking her to Brownies, and we TALK a lot. About the world, stuff at school, does God exist, where do babies come from etc.
OP, please don't worry. My experience of working FT on my DD has been very positive, largely I think due to a) her excellent childminders since DD was 10 months old and b) myself having systems and routines in place so that I am not stressed in front of DD.
My own parents worked fulltime from when I was 8 months old. They placed me with an excellent CM who taught me to read by the time I was 4 and I excelled at school (eventually getting a PhD) and was/am a confident, sociable little thing. I never experienced my parents being stressed although I am sure they were.
The key thing for DH and I is that we share housework 50/50, limit it to a quick hour on the weekend and keep our evenings free so he and I have couple time too.
(FWIW, I am working from home from September and will work less hours and so will see DD alot more - who, I admit, I do miss terribly, still, but I still think working FT is doable and that DC can thrive so long as the above conditions I've noted are true.)
We're all muddling through and doing our best.
Your LO needs loving, consistent caregivers, time with her mummy and daddy and extended family, and parents who are (mostly!) happy and fulfilled. You've put that in place, to the best of your ability, and given yourself a get out clause if it doesn't work for you.
Of course you feel guilty. You'd probably feel that whatever choice you made. So enjoy your months now until August, and then enjoy your new slightly changed life as you move into a new phase. FGS don't waste your time beating yourself up, just as very few fathers beat themselves up either.
Thanks all for your support and reassurance - exactly what i needed!
I left him at the childminder today for a couple of hours to get used to her. He'll be going for half/ full day a week until i return to work full time. I'm a very proud mummy today. Her words were: "Isn't he easy?! And clearly so happy and content. He's been very good and very happy, smiling at everyone and taking everything in his stride." It really put my mind at ease.
cat64 - i don't think i 'stated' anything in the thread title - it was a question (hence the question mark!) aimed at gathering other people's opinions who have already been there and done it. The positive replies i received suggest i need not worry.
That's lovely to hear how it went at the childminder today. You have clearly chosen well.
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