Stay-at-home mum: How to help your child cope when you go back to work

Stay-at-home mum: How to help your child cope when you go back to work
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You decided to go back to work after being a stay-at-home mum for the past three years, but your three-year-old has started to act up at home. He's also creating trouble for the teachers at his childcare centre.

You know that he wants things to be the way they were before, but you like working again and need the extra income. Here are some ways to cope with this rough period.

Don't expect too much, too soon

Each of you needs time to adjust to your new daytime arrangements. You are not used to being separated from your child for so long every day, and you also now have to deal with demanding workplace challenges.

Likewise, your three-year-old misses your constant company, and he has to adapt to the social challenges of his new childcare placement.

That's not easy for either of you, and it is not surprising that you are both struggling in your own way. But don't panic - you'll probably find that by the next month or so, your child is more settled.

Reassure your kid

The transition from home-all day to childcare-all-day has unnerved your child - he's used to having Mum by side all his waking hours and he assumed that routine would never change.

Yet suddenly he's away from you each day, and he might be worried that perhaps this is his fault or that maybe you don't love him as much.

So, reassure him that you love him more than ever, and explain that you are going back to work simply because you need the money. Make sure he understands that sending him to childcare has nothing to do with how much you love him.

Be upbeat and positive

Of course, you probably feel miserable, too, because of Junior's distress at not being with you all day (though you shouldn't feel guilty that you enjoy your return to work).

However, try to have a positive attitude when you drop your child off at the childcare centre. Talk to him about his friends, the staff, and the activities there that he enjoys, and be enthusiastic about his responses.

Even if you are anxious that he will miss you, try not to let that show. Your optimistic outlook and approach will eventually spread.

Deal with the daily separation firmly

On the way to the centre, remind him that he'll have a good time there, that you expect him to get on well with everyone, and that he won't be allowed home early even if he misbehaves.

When you arrive, give him a brief hug and kiss, hand him over to a specific member of staff, and then leave, even if he complains. Tell him that you will pick him up at the end of the day.

When you do meet your child later, greet him enthusiastically, ask him about his experiences and tell him how pleased you are with him.

Make effective use of your time together

Even though you are separated from each other during the day, you still share time in the morning before you go to work, in the evening when you are both back home, and on the weekends and holidays.

Spend as much of that time together as you can. You don't need to organise special activities - chatting, eating together, or just even going a walk together gives him your attention and interest.

Quality time isn't about the number of minutes you and your child spend together, it's about what you do with those precious moments. That's how to beat the homesick blues.

This article was first published in Young Parents

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