I am trying to be a peaceful, attached parent to my DS, who is 19 months old. I was able to be a full time SAHM for the first 17 months of his life. I am currently working evenings from home for 4 hours, 4 days a week while my DH is taking care of my DS. This is working out fairly well, but for financial reasons I will most likely have to return to full time work next september. My DS will be just shy of 2 and 1/2 at that point. I'm pretty sure he'll be with my mother in law while I'm at work, and she is truly wonderful with him and he loves her dearly.
However, I'm already developing anxiety about leaving him for 35 hours a week. Can someone point me towards some research or any kind of information about the best time for a mom to return to work? I have read a few that say you should attempt to stay home for the first year, others say the first 3 years. It's kind of hard for me to wait until he's 3 because I work in a school and cannot start in April since it's the middle of the school year. We can't really afford to wait until the next year when he would be 3 and 1/2. One positive aspect is that my husband and I have roughly the same hours, so we would all be home at the same time, which I feel would be beneficial to my DS, as opposed to me working part time when DH is home, like I'm doing now.
I know there is no right/wrong here, I'm just wondering if there are any negatives to returning to work before your DC is 3.
Mom to Kevin, : born naturally 4-7-10
From what I've read, most of the "stay home for a year" are geared towards supporting breastfeeding through infancy. I've never seen a study or even news coverage that wasn't in some way linked to breastfeeding/immunity/daycare type concerns.
At 2.5, your DS will have a well established relationship with you (heck, he already does!), and will likely be just fine. It will be an adjustment, but if he is with another family member that he loves and also already has a close relationship with, he'll do even better.
Don't worry about it!
As it was already said, I think being with a family member vs. a stranger is a huge difference. Also,the fact that he'll have one-on-one attention vs. being one of many in a day care center is ideal! He'll do great.
eta: I don't know about an ideal age for a child to be left with someone other than parents. Both of my kids were around 2-2 1/2 when they started being taken care of by other people/daycares. It really worked out perfectly for both of them, so there's my personal experience fwiw.
Single student mama to dd 5/04 and ds 11/07.
I agree with the comment about 1 year being for breastfeeding. I'm just getting a little sad knowing that I won't be there for every part of my DS's day. He'll probably handle it better than me!
Mom to Kevin, : born naturally 4-7-10
Quite a while ago I read the book:
The attachment connection: parenting a secure and confident child using the science of attachment theory by Ruth P. Newton
and I don't quite remember the age she suggested that children can handle increased separation but she seemed to suggest some answers to your question. I do remember that she suggested that another secure attached caregiver is the best substitute (so avoid large daycare centres with high staff turnover). It might be worth seeing if your local library has a copy of the book.
I agree with this. With my ds, I stayed home with him for 18 mo, then dh stayed for 18 mo.
With dd, we stayed one year each and now at 2 she is being taken care of by her grandparents, who live with us.
I was home with my son until he was 2.5 and then he went to a daycare where he is in a class with 24 kids and 3 teachers and they have a fairly organized day. I was very nervous about it but he has done so awesome. He really loves going, we both love his teachers, it has been such a good experience for both of us.
even if there was research on the best age - i wouildnt buy it. because it all so depends on the child.
plus you know being at the place of acceptance is really helpful. you gotta do what you have to do. its not a choice. it IS heart wrenching but as you said - you'll discover your the one with the issues - not your son.
dd and i both didnt want her in dc when she started at 2. (it was too early for her coz she started at dc for eight to ten hours a day which was too much for a 2 year old. had it been a gma it would have not beein the issue it became). but we had no choice. i sat with dd and told her how much i wish life had handed us a different plate but this is what we have. even at 2 i let her know that i wasnt doing this out of choice. i had no other way of paying for rent and putting food on the table. had i a choice i would be right there with her.
while it didnt take the pain away for both of us - we both realised that we had to do the best we could with what we had.
in retrospect - now that dd is 9, its become a life skill. even when things dont go her way, and she is disappointed - life still is bearable. she figures out different ways to make things tolerable for her at that moment.
however i would pay heed to transition. i would from now on increase a little more time with gma than usual - because transition is the hardest on the kids. and if it feels more normal they handle the distance much more easily. i'd start transitioning 6 months earlier than just a month.
Hi Mrs. T!
Well....I don't really know of any stats/recommendations on the best ages of a child to have their mom start back to work. If I'd had my "best case" scenario, it would have been once they started school, so that I could be working while they're gone...and not have to miss out on anything. But, like you, our family had financial needs, and I had to go back to work, too. If you have to do it, having a MIL available to watch him is a great deal!! And...he'll have lots of great memories of his time spent with grandma, too....and that is priceless!
I struggled with guilt/anxiety (especially at first), but for us, it has gotten easier as we've all adjusted to a new "normal" schedule in our family. There's a book called Working Moms 411 that gives a lot of helpful tips for organization, schedules, and balancing all the stuff we have to juggle as working moms. Best wishes to you as you transition to working full-time....it will get easier as you adjust to the routine. I have no doubt that your son will ALWAYS know that his greatly loved...by you, and by all who take care of him!
I can't imagine there is any real research about the "best" age to go back. I think you can get a good idea from people who have done it at different ages. There is also research on brain development and attachment. I found an interesting article by Richard Bowlby (son of the founder of attachment theory) suggesting that children develop the capacity to deal with separation and form a secondary attachment bond somewhere between ages 2 and 3, which you can read here: http://socialbaby.blogspot.com/2007/04/richard-bowlby-stress-in-daycare.html
He suggests that by 36 months, the left side of the brain, which includes complex speech, ability to remember the past and anticipate the future, etc., becomes dominant. Sometime between 24 and 36 months, they develop the capacity to deal with the separation without it causing a lot of stress. Of course, the exact age will depend upon the child. Of course, if you are putting him in care with your MIL, then he will already have that secondary attachment begun, if not already formed. It will surely go quite well, though there may still be a few tears in the beginning (for both of you). Of course, as others have suggested, definitely start increasing the time with MIL bit by bit, if possible, to help things go more smoothly. Your confidence that the situation is good for him will also help. He will be so much better off in this type of care situation (one-on-one with family) than if he were to be going to day care (which, of course, can also be okay, as long as it is the elusive, high quality type).
My DS1 was definitely NOT ready to be in a group care environment at 24 months to deal with day care (we tried, but then we found a nice SAHM to watch him with a little companion and he did quite well). We started him in preschool M-F at 45 months and it went perfectly -- he loves it (it is also a very nurturing one)! He still has some difficulty separating from me in other situations, but never with his preschool.
You've done great by staying this long! Good luck!
DS1 (6) , DS2 (3) , DD is here!
Thank you, that is what I was looking for. I am definitely not ready to leave him all day every day, and he gets very clingy when I'm working my part time job. He spends a lot of time with my MIL, she is the only babysitter he has ever had and we see her once a week or more. I really wanted to know at what age it would be the least stressful for him.
Thank you everyone, for the helpful replies!
Mom to Kevin, : born naturally 4-7-10