Our First Week of Daycare after Maternity Leave
Returning to work after my maternity leave was nerve-wracking and stressful, but I am glad I did it. I was nervous about how Zoe would do in child care. She isn’t a difficult baby, but she certainly isn’t an easy one. Prior to Zoe’s first week in daycare, I had read posts about how some children are not meant for “group care” and I was afraid that she would cry all day long. I also was nervous about being able to perform my work responsibilities at the same level I was performing before my maternity leave. My job is fast paced and challenging, and I wanted to ensure that my performance would not change even though I now have a child. Even though I was nervous, I was very much so looking forward to regaining my sense of identity outside of the house. I was ready to become a contributing member of society again, engage in regular adult conversations and challenge myself. For me, six weeks at home was enough time – I was ready to stir things up again.
Rather than attempt to summarize our first week of daycare and my return to work in a completely organized way (since I’m still not finding that easy to do in my new harried state of working parenthood!), I thought I’d share some of the rough notes I kept as I approached (and somehow survived) my first week back in the office. My thoughts and frame of mind went a little something like this…
Return from Maternity Leave & First Week of Daycare
One Week before Returning to Work: It’s 5 a.m. I wake up from a mild panic attack realizing I will be back at work exactly one week from today and Zoe will be starting at her new child care center. Where did the time go? How can it possibly be time to go back already? What if Zoe cries all day? What if I cry all day?
Transition Day at Daycare: I can’t remember the last time I was this nervous. I hope the teachers like Zoe. I hope the teachers like me. How does this stroller work again? I can’t find the clips to attach the car seat to the stroller. Jessie, please don’t cry, please don’t cry the minute you walk into the classroom – oh, too late.
Night before First Day Back at Work: I’ve been so worried that I gave myself headache. I packed my work bag, complete with a six photo frames full of pictures of my little girl. I packed extra clothes, bibs and prepped the bottles for tomorrow. My husband is going to do drop off with me this week for moral support. Zoe just finished her bottle and is resting her head on my shoulder. I can’t believe how fast time is going by. It seems like yesterday we brought her home from the hospital. I am so sad.
Morning of Day 1: AHHHHHH.
Mid-day Day 1: I have only cried once so far. I am proud of myself. Thankfully, I had done a lot of planning prior to going out on leave so my projects were properly transitioned to others. Everyone has been great about keeping me up to date on what has been going on and my meeting schedule is back in full swing! My managers and colleagues are being very supportive (just like they were when I told them I was expecting) and have checked in on me throughout the day. I am impressed that I have already gotten a few things done. Boy, it feels great to enjoy an entire mug full of hot coffee.
Evening of Day 1: Well, it is 10 p.m. and I can officially say – it wasn’t that bad! I went down to visit Zoe after lunch and she was taking a nap. The teachers all said that the day was going great and she was eating well. They all seem to already like Zoe so much. I’m so glad my husband was able to do drop off and pick up with me. I was nervous and fumbling around while trying to get her supplies into her cubby and fill out her day sheet. I cried when talking to the teacher about her sleep habits, but other than that, I held it together. This isn’t that bad. I think I can do this again tomorrow.
Mid-morning Day 2: How does ANYONE get out of the house on time? I can’t believe Zoe spit up all over her outfit two minutes before we were supposed to leave. I don’t think I will ever be on time for work again.
End of Week: Anyone who is able to successfully do this with more than one child is a saint. Zoe will be an only child.
And now? A few weeks later, I’m happy to report that Zoe is doing great at the child care center. The teachers are all so wonderful with her and she smiles every time she sees them! The best part of my day is when I get to pick her up and she smiles at me. I feel refreshed when I get home and am at my best self for her and for me.
Do you want more tips for life after your maternity leave?
Use the below player to download, follow, and listen to Episode 1 of the Bright Horizons Family Matters Podcast: Returning to Work as a Parent. Click here to learn more about the Bright Horizons Family Matters Podcast.
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