If you’re going back to work, have you thought about using your parents or in-laws to help with childcare? Read this guest blog from Kate of Giggling at it All as she shares the ups and downs of this arrangement.
When you first have your baby, you are fascinated by the new little human being in your family. I gazed at my first son and wanted to spend every minute of every day with him. However, with a strong work ethic, a clueless feeling about being a mum and grandparents all too happy to provide childcare, I returned to a full-time job just 6 weeks after his birth.
I suppose the really stressful part of the arrangement was limited to chaotic mornings getting myself and Alex ready. Once I handed him over to his adoring grandma, I could relax safe in the knowledge that he was being very well looked-after whilst I got on with my day. I was doing a job I liked and it was, on the whole, a happy time.
So what were the downsides?
For one, I never really felt that my son was totally mine. Part of me luxuriated in having my mum to take over but a nagging voice in my head resented it. It is not easy to return from a busy day at work desperate to see your son and to hear him express all too vocally that he would prefer to stay at his grandma’s house. There are little heartbreaks all the time like when
your son does his first painting and it is handed over to you rather than you see him do it. Not great when grandma claims to have seen him take his first steps and because he does not walk in front of you, you suspect she is over-egging the pudding a little.
Tension when grandma lets him watch certain children’s television programmes that you disapprove of or takes him for a haircut without consulting you first.
Looking back, if I am totally honest, I wish I had done things differently. There is no doubt that my son saw grandma as the authority figure in his life for many years. He went to her for comfort in a way I did not feel he did with me. On the other hand, having lost my mum last year, I am grateful that he had those full-on happy times with her which are in his memory bank for keeps. I guess life is a complex thing and it is difficult to make the right choices. Perhaps instead of classes telling you how to breathe during labour, more time should be spent helping you work out which will be the best family, work, life balance for individual families. And perhaps, when you are pregnant is far too late to raise such issues – maybe it should be a debate that is had in schools and colleges too.
What is clear is that many mums, myself included, feel they never got the balance quite right.