Planning for childcare and your new daily routine

Now that you’re fast approaching the time when you’ll head back to work and Baby will be left in the care of another person, it’s a good time to consider some of the details of that big day. This way it’ll be a smooth transition for your family and you can return to work with confidence, knowing that Baby will be well cared for.

What’s your plan A?

Based on your choice of childcare, try to think about what a typical day for your family will look like once you’re back at work.

  • In the morning: If childcare will be outside of your home, who will drop off Baby? If your childcare is in-home, what time will your sitter be over? And based on all of this, what time will your day need to start in terms of waking up, eating breakfast, getting ready, and the like?
  • At the end of the day: How are you going to get out of work when you need to, and at what time? What will you do for dinner once you’re home? Can you prep anything ahead of time? Freeze some meals? Have a few quick and easy dishes up your sleeve? If you have in-home care, will your sitter be comfortable helping with food prep?
  • If you have a partner: How will your partner be involved in getting the day off to a good start? What will their responsibilities be for managing and coordinating childcare? What will their responsibilities be in terms of the end of day routine? Are you and your partner on the same page about all this?

What’s your plan B?

At some point you may need to go with a backup plan for childcare, and if this happens, it’s good to know all your options ahead of time.

  • Personal day: Are you or your partner able to stay home and take a sick or personal day?
  • Work from home: If neither of you can take a sick or personal day, can one of you telecommute and work from home?
  • Friendly help: Do you have a relative or friend who works from home and could watch your little one if you’re in a bind?
  • Work perks: Does your employer offer any backup childcare options as part of your benefits package? Do you know of a babysitting or childcare agency that accepts last-minute requests for care?

Dealing with a sick child is different than dealing with a babysitter who has to cancel, and an average work day that you can easily call out of is different than a day when you have a meeting with a particularly important client. Depending on the situation, it’s good to know what backup options are available to you. To have a plan B (or C, or D) in place means that you can tackle the situation with a little less stress and a little more confidence.

Does Baby have everything they need? Is it prepped and ready to go?

If childcare will be in-home:

  • Supplies: Does your sitter or nanny have everything they’ll need to care for Baby? Are there enough diapers, wipes, and the like?
  • Setup: Are clothes, blankets, and toys where they need to be? How about milk or formula and bottles?
  • Notes and labels: Do you need to leave any notes on care or label any food in certain ways?

If childcare will be out of the home:

  • Supplies: Does Baby have all the things that they&;ll need at the childcare center? Diapers, wipes, cream, a change of clothes, and outdoor wear for outside play? Milk, formula, food, and snacks?
  • Labels: Should anything be labelled in a certain way?
  • Storing: Will the childcare center keep any of Baby’s things there, or will you need to bring their things in anew each day?

Whether Baby will be cared for in-home or out of your home, it will help to have everything packed and ready to go the night before.

Do you have the things you need?

This might include pumping supplies (see this article), a phone charger, lunch and snacks, and a hard copy of important info – such as the phone number and address of Baby‘s childcare center or contact info for your sitter. Having your own items prepped will be just as helpful. 

Communicating with your childcare provider

No matter what sort of childcare you’ve chosen, you’ll want to have a clear sense of just how much communication you want to have with Baby’s caregiver. It’s a good idea to set some ground rules with whoever is taking care of Baby while you’re at work. Do you want cute photos punctuating your day, potentially interrupting meetings? Maybe that might actually be preferable and brighten your day. Or maybe you want to limit communication to emergencies only, so that you and your coworkers know that when your phone buzzes, it’s time for you to drop what you’re doing and for them to cover for you if they can. Figure out what’s best for you.

You might have more flexibility with these sort of choices with an in-home sitter than you would with a childcare center, but regardless, there are some expectations that you should set at the start, even if you decide to change things up later on. Setting boundaries can help you and Baby‘s caregiver have more structured and successful days.

Anticipating emotions

Even if all goes as planned, you might be surprised that some intense emotions – both very expected and even unexpected – can enter into the mix.

If Baby gets upset when parting with you, it could be hard for you to keep it together. And it’s not that you have to pretend to be without any feelings of your own, but it can be most helpful for them if you try your best to give them a quick goodbye, reassure them that they’ll have a fun day with their caregiver, and remind them that you’ll see them very soon.

It’s completely normal and instinctual to want to run back to Baby if they start to cry when you leave them in the arms of another caregiver. And to not do just that can be really difficult. But, truly, it’s best to just smile, wave, and tell yourself that Baby will be absolutely fine for the next few hours. 

If you really need to let the tears flow – your own tears, that is – you may just want to wait until Baby is off and having fun with their caregiver, as they may get upset to see you so upset. You want to try your very best to make this a really positive experience for them. And if you or your child are having a particularly hard time with drop off, consider having your partner take on this responsibility and see if that helps the situation.

Of course, alternately, you might also find yourself not feeling sad at all, but instead really looking forward to getting back to work. And a lot of moms feel a mix of sadness and excitement. Truly, anything you feel is A-okay.

Remember, this is temporary

You’re a working mother, and this automatically enrolls you in superhero status, but you’re still learning the ropes. Even if you don’t feel 100% back to normal already, take things day by day, and reach out for help if you ever feel overwhelmed. This is a tough period of transition, but know that things will get easier with time. 

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