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Working and Guilt

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hello, working mamas

My DD is 8.5 months now and will be 9.5 months when I return to work (start date = Sept 1).

I didn't really know what attachment parenting was when I got pregnant but as I read more about it, all I could think was... "Duh!" It just came so naturally to me. And, ever since DD was born, we babywear, exclusively breastfeed, respond to her cries consistently, cosleep, etc. I think she has a very good relationship with my husband and me... and with my mom as well (we spend a lot of time with my parents). My mom fully supports my breastfeeding, cosleeping (my mom slept with us), babywearing, etc. My DD and I have never spent time apart for more than 2 hours (and that was only one or two times).

We are kind of in a financial bind right now... and this job kind of fell into my lap. It's very prestigious and the pay is pretty good too. I would be the main breadwinner in the family.

But, I am feeling so, so guilty about going back to work. She will be staying with my mom full time in our house 5 days a week (mom will be staying with us), and we have a very trusted friend who is doing a homecare nearby, and we were thinking of easing DD into that after awhile too so my mom can get a break too My mom is more than happy to help us out and we are more than happy to have her here- especially since she is so good with DD already. There is also a Waldorf type school close by that we would consider as well after she got to be at least a year old (part time anyway). Oh, and my mom is offering to bring DD to my work place during lunch break so we can hang out mid-day. Also, my future employer said that once they get a good idea of my work habits and work load, they would consider allowing me a more flexible schedule. They are open to it.

All I have read indicates to me that mothers should stay at home for the first 3 years of a baby's life. I'm feeling so torn about everything.

Mamas, what evidence is there that shows that a woman can work outside of the home and have healthy children? How can I practice Attachment Parenting while working? Please... I'm looking for any advice here.


Thanks in advance.
post #2 of 12
I have to say- you have the IDEAL set-up for child care!

The book Getting to 50/50 reviews a lot of research in which the outcomes support women working and having their children in day care (which you won't have to do), even when their infants are young (much younger than yours). I wanted to type out some quotes from the book for you, but I loaned it to a friend so I don't have it right now.

You can totally AP and work full time. Co-sleeping, extended breastfeeding, wearing your baby- those are all ways to maximize the time you are with your baby. I had to return to work part-time only 6 weeks after my son was born and I felt like I got lots of time with him b/c he slept with us and nursed during the night.

Maybe I've only looked at the research that supports my working, (because I too deal with the guilt of my kids being in childcare while I work....), but where have you read that it is best for mothers to stay with their children for the first 3 years? I think it depends a lot on the individual mother, and the family's situation. I've found lamenting that I have to work (which I do) has only brought me strife and guilt...but when I read that book Getting to 50/50, it helped me to see some of the positives that working motherhood offers me, my children, and my family as a whole.
post #3 of 12
You have to decide what is right for your family and for you. AP is wonderful philosophy, but like any it can be used as a guilt-hammer instead of as a tool to shape your lives. Children need love and attention, but they're also so much more resilient and capable than we give them credit for. This may not be your ideal situation, but it won't damage your child to have others care for her if they're loving and attentive. Personally, this sounds like the best possible situation you could ask for considering the circumstances.
post #4 of 12
I just want to reassure you that in my family both of us work outside the home, and we are very attached and feel that we are close and loving and all the good stuff.

Having a good care situation is the biggest part and it sounds like you have an ideal one for your child's age. The bonus flexibility and everything sounds wonderful.

Also, I personally found that extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping helped me to really feel I *was* parenting all the other hours of the day.

Given how much happier I am as a person working, and how much less stressed our family is with two salaries, I wouldn't do it any other way right now. Yes, I sometimes feel guilty. But when I was home I had bad days and felt guilty too.
post #5 of 12
it sounds like you have a great set up going. Most women would kill for that kind of arrangement. Give it a try and see what happens. Sometimes, you might find you like WOH.
post #6 of 12
Just wanted to add that being AP while working is so important to me because I don't have as much quantity time with my baby as a SAHM, I want to make sure to keep our attachment as strong as I can. And for me anyway, I am not cut out to be a SAHM to an infant anyway. I was on maternity leave for 4 months and was so ready to go back to work. Not that I don't miss her and all that, of course I do, but I enjoy my job for many reasons and was glad to be back.

I too recommend the Getting to 50/50 book. As for if a parent should or shouldn't stay home, well there are a lot of studies in the 50/50 book, but I go by the philosophy that you have to do what works for your family. Not SAH or WOH because you should, but because it is what works best for your family.
post #7 of 12
It sounds like a perfect set up to me! Trust me, there are many worse things in life than a mother working. If you need the money, you need the money. Why scrape by if you don't have to? You have someone that loves your kid that will watch them. That is awesome. That will be another member of your family that your kid will be bonded to. What is better than lots of time with grandma? Don't feel any guilt, there really are worse things in life! I stay home for a year, then go back part-time after each kid. It doesn't really bother them much. They actually look forward to the time they get to spend with daddy doing fun things and seeing the grandparents more. Don't sweat it.
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thank you, everybody, for your replies. The reassurance means a lot to me. I got the book Getting to 50/50 and I've been reading it... it's a great book. I am just getting to the research part of it now (was reading the part about dads helping out, etc, first).

The work I read about staying home until the age of 3, is somewhere in internet world and I think I read something by Dr. Sears that said the same thing. I will post them later- I've been avoiding those sources all weekend long

I do enjoy my line of work and this opportunity will certainly open doors for me down the line. I just feel so guilty thinking about it. I was out of the house for 4 hours last night (the longest DD and I have ever been apart) and she was really ready to see me when I got back. She snuggled with me and didn't want to let me go. I guess I just have to ease into it.

Seriously- thank you all for your replies. It feels good to know that other moms out there are both fulfilled at work and attached to their kids in a healthy, positive way. Any other tips or recommendations are totally welcome.
post #9 of 12
A couple things that I do to help keep our attachment strong:
-Get up early enough in the morning to have some nice one-on-one play time with DD before I go to work and her to daycare.
-Pumping breastmilk at work gives me 2-3 times a day where I focus on being a mom. Not everyone feels connected via pumping and that's ok, but for me it does help.
-After I get her breastmilk in the fridge, I sit down with her and either play or nurse or whatever, reconnecting again after our long days. And since she has an early bedtime (~7pm), DH & I generally focus mostly on her until she goes to bed. Sometimes we have to get something done and we will, but mostly it is family time.
-So I can focus on her more, I try to run minor errands during lunch and wait for the big shopping trips for the weekends where they help break up the day.
-Since we can afford it and it is worth it to us, we hire someone to mow our grass and do some minor landscaping. This frees up some more of our non-working time.
-I let non-critical housework go more often than not. When something has to give, it is definitely housework
post #10 of 12
Originally Posted by Path2Felicity View Post
All I have read indicates to me that mothers should stay at home for the first 3 years of a baby's life.
Oh, mama.

I am going to suggest, as gently as I can, that you might be reading from a biased set of materials. The vast majority of work on child attachment says no such thing.

Yes, it is important for babies to form a strong attachment, but they can -- and do! -- form attachments with other loving adults in addition to their mother. Babies all over the world are cared for by multiple people, and this has been the case for thousands of years.

Yes, it is absolutely possible for women to work outside the home and have healthy children. Your work and child care situations sound wonderful, which puts you in an excellent position to be one of those many success stories.

As for practical tips, co-sleeping is a big thing for us, and so is continued breastfeeding. Having your mom bring your babe to you mid-day will be fantastic!

And, if you can, let go of the guilt. It won't help you be more attached; it will just make you feel badly about doing the best you can for your family and yourself, which is totally ridiculous.
post #11 of 12
I havent read the replies, but my biggest peice of advice for OP is to PUT THE BOOKS DOWN.

Would I have loved to stay home with my kids until they went off to college? SURE!!! Would my mother have loved to stay home with me and my sister until we moved out of the house? oh hell yea! But is just wasnt doable.

Consider this, you are in a financial bind that effects your DD as much as it does you. You have the means to make that burden go away. PLUS, your own mother will be caring for her while your away. To put it into perspective, who do you think cares for children while some women have to go out into the fields and til the gardens in 3rd worls countries and tribal situations? Grandmas, aunts, older siblings. To me, your situation sounds nothing more then a new world version of that scenerio.

I used to feel guilty. But if you could see how happy and well adjusted and LOVED my boys are in their DCP, you would agree that things could be ALOT worse, and there is no reason for me to feel guilty.
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 

Seriously, I have been getting advice from all directions, but nothing made me feel better than the perspective you ladies gave me. It's TRUE- children do form healthy, loving attachments to other caregivers. And, that's how it is world wide, where community living is more the norm.

I love the support and advice I've received on this thread. And, I'm happy to know that there are mamas working out there who are very attached to their babies. It's very reassuring. Thanks again for the tips
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