A parent’s love: there’s really nothing quite like it, and no real way of explaining it. It’s one of those things that require firsthand experience. When I was pregnant, everyone told me how much I would fall in love with our baby, and of course, I knew I would. It’s the “how much” part that I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams. The second our Little arrived into this world, my heart filled with uncontainable love and burst into a trillion little pieces. It was as if it exploded so it could make more room. And with each passing minute, I fell even harder for our Little. So much so that, as each day whittled by, bringing the end of my maternity leave closer and closer, a rock of dread began to form in the pit of my gut. I was quickly losing interest in the original plan my husband and I came up with of hiring a caretaker for our baby so I could return to work.
I began to despise each sunset, knowing that with each subsequent sunrise, I would be one day closer to having to entrust the care and well-being of our newborn baby to a complete stranger. It was so tough. Heart-wrenchingly tough. As if raging post-partum hormones, sleep deprivation and being a first-time mom weren’t enough, staring into the face of my precious Little knowing that I would have to leave him soon just broke my heart. I was giving myself daily pep talks while my inner new-mom panicked. (Let’s not even bring up the guilt). How could I possibly “give up” this tiny baby to someone else to care for, how could I expect a caretaker to replace me and my maternal love, and above all, (compliments to my inner control freak) – how could I expect a total stranger to care for my baby in the same manner that I would?
Here’s the thing: it’s important to remember that you’re not “giving up” your baby. You’re taking a few hours away from her each day so you can accomplish what you need. The time apart will make the time you are together that much sweeter. And whether you go with the daycare facility or nanny route, remind yourself that neither is meant to replace you. No one can do that, no matter how hard they tried. Not even Daddy. You will always be #1 in her eyes. Personally, the hardest part for me was taming my inner control freak. I had to come to terms with the fact that expecting someone to take care of our Little in the exact same manner that I would is simply unrealistic. In between the bouts of emotions, the rational side of me understood that trusting a caretaker involves relinquishing some control and toning down expectations. However, none of that means that you won’t find someone who would come to close to meeting your expectations and requirements. It’s important to keep your standards high.
Having to find childcare for your Little isn’t a bad thing. Yes, it’s a heart-crusher, especially if you have to return to work right after the usual 12 week maternity leave — the younger the babes are, the harder it is. And while you will – yes, will – cry initially (that first week back at work will be brutal), the emotions pass and, much like those sleepless newborn nights, it does get better. And when you see much fun your baby is having with your in-home caretaker, or how much they’re thriving socially at daycare, you’ll realize that you didn’t make the wrong decision and the guilt will subside. Here are some other reasons why childcare isn’t always that terrible, ugly monster new moms fear.
1. You get to go back to work and contribute financially towards your family.
2. You can take a breather from all things “baby,” and perhaps even have the opportunity to enjoy a non-hurried meal.
3. Two words: Adult. Interaction.
4. You get “you” time, even if it is at work.
5. You’ll get to use the restroom privately, and in peace.
6. Your baby will have the opportunity to acclimate to new environments and people.
7. Your baby will be exposed to other children, encouraging early socialization.
8. You (probably) won’t have to deal with attachment and/or separation-anxiety issues down the line (making preschool drop-off a breeze).
9. Your baby could potentially learn a new language (via nanny or an au pair)
10. You could come home to a clean home (if you hire a nanny or au pair that also happens to do some housework when the baby naps).
The above ten reasons aren’t meant to influence your decision. But hopefully they offer a start towards making you feel more comfortable. When you’re ready, click on the next page for some resources for finding a childcare match: