Working and Parenting - Part Two

Oct 25 10:55 2016 Sally Michener Print This Article

This article covers: A Story about healthy working and attaching, Connecting and staying connected, Shortening the Distance, Choosing Substitute Caregivers and Options for care.. There will be two more parts to this article so be sure to keep an eye out for them.

A Story About Healthy Working and Attaching

Janice and Mark are about to become first-time parents. The couple,Guest Posting both with interesting careers, realistically evaluates the family situation and concludes that Janice needs to work (even wants to), at least part-time. During "their" pregnancy Janice and Mark read a lot about the importance of mother-infant attachment and father-infant attachment. They vow not to let working and parenting be an either/or decision. They both will work outside the home, but they will also work at building a strong attachment to baby, and this is how they do it.

First, Janice puts out of her mind the day she plans to return to work lest she be preoccupied with "what happens when." She doesn't let economic pressures rob her of the joy of becoming attached. She chooses her birthing scene wisely, keeps baby with her after birth, breastfeeds on cue, and wears baby John most of the day -- the entire attachment-parenting package. Mark shares every aspect of parenting except the breastfeeding. The attachment strengthens.

After a month of being an attached mother, Janice feels connected with her baby and at peace with herself. Feeling connected to their baby elevates Mark and Janice's who decision-making process to a higher level. Janice still realizes she must work, but she is even more committed to mothering because she realizes how important it is to maintain the attachment. She realizes she can't rewind the parenting tape of the early, formative months, but she can always catch up on income. She decides to ease into working, first very part-time, the maybe more -- using baby as a barometer of separation.

In some ways her strong mother-infant attachment makes it tougher to leave John; in her heart (confirmed by research) that strong early attachment makes later separation healthier. A secure mother-infant attachment allows baby to better tolerate substitute care and helps mother to feel less guilty about leaving.

The attached couple thoughtfully selects a substitute caregiver, one who is naturally nurturing and sensitively responsive. Janice spends time showing her how she wants her baby mothered.

While at work, Janice periodically clicks her mind onto images of her baby. After all, working people let their minds wander a bit; she might as well let it wander to her baby. Every few hours her breasts tingle and leak as a reminder that though professionally she is at the office, biologically she is a breastfeeding mother. She pumps and stores milk, glad for this connection with John. The connection continues -- because Janice orchestrates it.

Sometimes the couple is able to juggle work schedules so that dad parents while mom works. After all, if mom shares earning, dad can share baby care.

At night John sleeps next to mom and dad, for some catch-up closeness from missed time during the day. The attachment continues at night. As Janice and Mark take inventory of their "home baby-raising business" they make adjustments, considering the needs of all three persons.

They realize the need to put a part of their previously busy life-style on hold for a while, because John will be a baby for a relatively short time, and their current financial situation is likely to improve. They even include John in their social life, gravitating toward like-minded friends and learning from veteran career jugglers.

What is the secret of their success? Because they were convinced attachment parenting makes a difference, they found a way. And they see the payoff. Years later, after Janice's office closes. Mark's company relocates, and their professional lives change, John will display the dividends of a long-term attachment investment.

Connecting and Staying Connected

Central to the approach to the working-parent issue is not whether or how much a mother works, but how close the attachment is between bay and mother. Even though the focus is on employed mothers, a broader issue is how both mother and father can be employed and parent. Here are tips for keeping connected to baby.

Make the most of maternity leave. Don't dwell upon the day you will return to work, lest the preoccupation rob you of those precious weeks of connecting with your baby. During the weeks or months at home with baby, practice as many of the attachment concepts as you can. Get hooked on your baby. Let your baby develop your nurturing skills. Enjoy the time spent with your baby as you let mutual giving bring out the best in both of you.

Realize your importance. Ponder the whole concept of attachment as discussed in the questions and answers earlier in this chapter. Be aware of the importance of parent-infant attachment. Especially consider the concepts of mutual giving, shaping, and sensitivity. Once the magnitude of what it means to nurture another life hits you, you will be more motivated to make attachment a priority.

Reconnect with baby. Let quality time be nurturing time, a time to reconnect with your baby after work. Continue breastfeeding after returning to work if you enjoyed this feeding style while you were a full-time mommy. Wear baby as much as possible while working around the house, shopping, and running errands. Incorporate baby into your away-from-the-workplace life. Indulging baby in things to make up for relationships is not part the attachment style of parenting. Catch-up nurturing is.

While at work keep the attachment going. New technologies can be helpful. You and your baby may be able to look at each other through a Web camera set up on a computer. Baby's pictures, pumping milk, and telephone calls to caregivers make long-distance connecting easier. Sometimes you may find all these baby reminders upsetting. Take these feelings as a sign of your continued sensitivity to your dual career. Completely shutting off baby thoughts eight hours a day is a desensitization process that leads to the most common infection of employed mothers --distancing between mother and child.

Blend jobs. If possible, choose employment that allows you the maximum time to mother. Here are some suggestions:

* Telecommunicate as much as possible.
* Start a home business.
* Find nearby employment that enables you to come home for reconnecting times or enables the caregiver to bring baby to your workplace.
* Work a flextime schedule, in which you have a certain amount of work to do but can choose your hours to accommodate baby-care times.
* Use on-site child care that allows you to stay in close and frequent touch with baby while at work.
* Work and wear. Bringing your baby to your job depends on the baby and the job. A fussy baby and a librarian mommy couldn't peacefully coexist in the same workplace. But there are plenty of jobs that enable you to wear your baby in a baby sling while working. Some examples are clerking in a baby shop -- a natural shopper-stopper -- selling real estate, even office work in a setting where baby sounds are socially acceptable. The cradle or playpen in the office corner can be an option. A mother who is a substitute teacher wears her baby to class. Can you imagine the attachment message this gives these impressionable future parents?

Know yourself -- know your baby. No career, even mothering, works if you push yourself beyond job satisfaction. A mother summed up her realistic appraisal of herself and her baby: "Full-time mothering was too much for me; full time working was too much for my baby." She reached a compromise. Besides working part-time, she got involved with a mothering support group so she could learn to broaden her enjoyment of her mothering profession.

Share baby care. If you are bringing home part of the bacon, honor your husband with his share of the household duties, especially taking over for the sitter whenever possible. One of the better by-products of employed mothers is more-involved fathers.

Shortening the Distance

It has been noticed that expectant mothers planning to return to their jobs a few weeks after birth subconsciously may not let themselves become closely attached to their baby "because it will be so hard to go back to work." Many of these babies and mothers who get a short start become victims of the dual-career juggler's disease -- distancing.

An experiment was tried in a pediatrician's practice that when mothers who were either prenatal or around the time of birth, told him they would be returning to work, I asked them to put "W-day" completely out of their mind. "enjoy full-time mothering while you can. Get hooked on your baby. In a couple of weeks before you return to work, we will discuss preparations." Amazing changes occurred in these mothers.

* They procrastinated and asked for a medical release to extend maternity leave. The Doctor was happy to oblige and prescribed Dr.'s standard mother-needs-to-stay-home-with-baby-awhile-longer remedy: "Because Mrs. Brown's baby is allergic to any milk other than her breast milk, it is medically necessary to extend her maternity leave so that she can safely meet her baby's nutritional needs." (This statement is technically correct. At least in the early months, infant intestines show allergic reactions, albeit sometimes microscopic, to any food other than human milk. Therefore, mother's milk can be considered a preventive-medicine prescription.)

* The concept of leaving baby at one place and working in another became foreign to them -- as if having to leave parts of themselves in two places. The baby had become part of mother's life.

* These mothers had various outcomes. Some made drastic changes in their lifestyles and took a year or two off to be full-time mothers. The rest went back to work, but all had come to the same conclusion. They would work but still meet the needs of their babies.

* The mothers who returned to work sought jobs that gave them the maximum flexibility. These mothers settled only for substitute care giving that offered a high level of sensitive nurturing. Some mothers even negotiated improved child-care policies at their workplace, such as sick-child leave and flextime.

What had happened to these mothers? A month or two of attachment parenting began a relationship that was too valuable to dilute, and whatever it took to maintain this connection they did. These babies did for their mothers more than all of the advice in the world could have done -- they showed mother her importance.

Choosing Substitute Care Givers

After many mothers come to grips with the agonizing reality of dual-career juggling, next comes the search for their substitutes.

Options for Care

The first step for most mothers in this position is to consider the care options that are feasible in their circumstances.

In-home care. Having your baby cared for in your own home is preferable. The advantages of home care are familiar surroundings, familiar toys, the germs that baby has already learned to live with, no transportation hassles, and your familiarity with the home. Shared care by your spouse is usually best, next comes grandparents or close relatives. Though more costly, a trained nanny, an au pair girl, and live-in help are other options. But once you go beyond the inner circle of family, relatives, or intimate friends, a seemingly endless search begins.

Shared home care. An option for part-timers is sharing child care with a friend -- "I'll mother yours and you mother mine two and a half days a week," or whatever schedule you work out. This deal brings you the advantage of having a like-minded caregiver, and, as in a profit-sharing partnership, each is motivated to give the other person's child the level of care they expect for their own. Friends with the same due date and back-to-work schedule as yours, and mates in your childbirth class, are ready sources for this arrangement.

Home day care (family day care). In this arrangement baby is cared for in another mother's home. Mothers often do home day care to supplement their family's income and to be home with their own children. The same nurturing priorities that prompted this mother to set up this arrangement may carry over into her care of your baby. You can only be sure of this if you know this person well or have carefully checked out her references. But this is not so ideal if the care provider piles in kids to the maximum allowable limit, has weak sick-child polices, and is not an attentive person. An ideal rule of thumb is that one caregiver can usually care for one one-year-old, two two-year-olds, three three-year-olds, and so on, which is modified by the number and ages of her own children. These houses should be licensed and you should be able to see the license. Remember, licensing deals with safety and medical issues, it does not guarantee a nurturing environment. That is your job to determine.

Parent co-ops. Four or five mothers of similar values get together and agree to care for one another's babies in their own homes in rotation. Since one caregiver cannot manage more than two babies under a year, the co-op hires a full-time caregiver as a parent's assistant. Or several like-minded parents chip in and hire one or two highly qualified and highly paid caregivers to come to one of the houses to look after the babies.

On-site day care. Corporations that value keeping their employed mothers satisfied offer day care at the workplace. Check it out. If your corporation doesn't have this setup, lobby for it.

Commercial day care. In general, day-care centers are not advisable for infants under one year because of too many kids, too few staff members, and the increased chances of contagious illness at a child's most infection-vulnerable time.


There will be more articles on infants, breast or bottle feeding and other related topics to follow. So please keep an eye out for more of my articles.

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Sally Michener
Sally Michener

Here at ring sling baby carriers we know your baby is precious and worth keeping close. Our ring sling baby carriers help you make the most of life while making the most of your baby's. Please visit our website ring sling baby carriers to see our broad selection of Hotslings adjustable pouch, Rockin Baby pouch, Rockin Baby ring sling and Lil Cub Hub convertible sling baby carriers and find the right print and style for you and your baby.

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