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My little angel is 3, I have been part of corporate sector for 7 years, my husband for 12+ years and counting. I resumed work when she was just five months old, with all the guilt that any working mom carries getting back to work after maternity break. Ever since, there is this struggle within me whether it is right or wrong to leave her behind and stay away from home for almost 10 work hours each day, five days a week .However I realize there are a lot of positives to look at , which could actually overpower the guilt factor. My observations and tips could help every working mother/father who carries the guilt of not playing the “stay at home” parent role. This could answer certain questions lingering around in you and help understand the positive side of it.
Working parents have a huge impact on the child’s behavior/development. I have jotted down a few of my observations. I am sure you could relate to them too.
The kid develops a very good sense of time: Even as a six-month old baby, my Ana knew when I would be back home, and started getting restless around the time if she doesn’t see me coming! That was just so amazing for me to observe and realize that she could actually guess the time I would be back.
And now, she goes to playschool which she calls her “office” and she knows its Friday when her teacher says “See you on Monday”. When I am back home on Friday, she says “Saturday Sunday Appa chutti amma chutti Ana Chutti” (Mom dad and Ana are on holiday, Its Saturday Sunday) and that is her way of says TGIF in the cutest possible tone J . She knows there is a routine to follow and she knows she has to adhere to it.
You little one will love having people around and will not be an introvert for certainty:
This one is a little tricky as it needs some proactive steps from parents to make sure your baby/toddler has people around her who she is absolutely comfortable with. Ana gets pampered and loved by grandparents both maternal and paternal and all of us ensure she doesn’t feel lonely. Also I and my spouse manage our work in a way that one of us leave early and get back home early and the other one balances out by leaving late based on our work schedules. Having taken the proactive steps, below are the positive results.
All these measures have definitely had an impact on my child. She knows how exactly to behave with whom and she has her own games and play time for each one of us. As all of us keep talking and interacting with her, she started speaking quite early (around 1 year) and she picks up words and contexts very quickly. The prankster that she is, it dawned on me that she gets to spend time with each one of them when we are at work and she is very good at it and this greatly contributes to her overall development and behavior.
Independence would be part of their nature: When I or my hubby start to work we drop her off at school. I put on my backpack, she runs to her bag, brings it and says “Let me put it on like you and let’s go to office”. And she doesn’t want to be lifted, she prefers getting down the stairs all by herself like me, it gives her a sense of pride! Independent woman in the making I say!
Quick learning is a tendency they develop: As she deals with minimum 7 to 10 people each day, she observes each one’s routine, their usage of words to converse, sometimes in different languages and her memory is just too good that she uses a word in a similar context a few days or even few months later that leaves us baffled .Sometimes me and my Mom in law talk in telugu so she doesn’t understand the context and when I use the same words a couple of times she knows exactly what we are talking about.. Ha! We now keep trying new techniques every time she cracks one.
The working parents’ guilt and some tips for the parents:
Having said all this I am guilty each day for being away from her but there are certain tips to ensure that your kid is comfortable and you are okay at work. It helps suppress the intensity of guilt. It works for me, hope it helps you too.
1) Ensure a good support system which has people who you could absolutely trust you kid with – We preferred our families and we have domestic help for the daily chores at home to make sure none of us are burdened with a lot of work.
2) Make sure you drop her off at school /pick her up – Ensure either of you spend time with the kid, get her ready and drop her off at school before you proceed to your work place. This gives the kid and you a sense of satisfaction.
3) Eat one meal a day together: Its mostly dinner for us, we sit together and she has her plate spoon and does her part in eating (messing up with) her food with us. We sometimes bring in a small contest to say who eats first and make sure she wins every contest
4) Kid’s Bedtime is parents’ time: Don’t miss putting your child to bed at night. Don’t delegate this part and ensure that either mom or dad does it. I think it’s really important to put the kid to sleep and do some chatting, free play, storytelling as she gets to sleep. If this means cutting down your TV/laptop time at home, so be it.
5) Talk to her over phone if you are getting late: This gives a sense of assurance for the kid that you care and you are on your way and will be beside her soon. She will get excited when you reach home and if it is with a small gift its all the more better.
6) Leave behind your work once you reach home: Remember work is a means for living and former is invalid when you don’t have a peaceful living. Don’t carry or show your work tension on the kid ever. The kid doesn’t understand that you are venting out your stress on her.
7) Kid should be part of your weekend plan: Spend all your time with the kid over the weekend. Take her along wherever you go – malls, supermarket, temple or just a walk.
8) A small outing each day for the kid is a must – If your kid has not started school/playschool, she definitely needs a daily outing. It could be a very small walk to the provision store as well. But she needs the change. Ensure to do it once you are back from work. Ten minutes is all it takes.
If you haven’t done any of these till now, try tweaking your routine a little to accommodate these and I assure you will see a positive change in your kid’s behaviour gradually, you will see a change in the guilt that you fight each day. We can balance work & life and positively impact & reflect on the child’s behavior; let’s emphasize on small things, do remember “Small things make a huge difference”. Happy parenting.