This time last year, i was closing in on my second month of Maternity leave and the mum guilt of having to leave my daughter at home crept in slowly. The many conversations I had through facebook or in person inspired me to write “Exploring options: To Stay or To Work (in another domain) to weigh out the pros and cons of being a stay at home mum compared to working full time. I concluded with my go to option “To work” because i always had it in mind that i would be the type of mother who needed to work. As confident as i may sound for choosing this option and never looking back, what i didnt quite figure out was how it would work out perfectly without a babysitter. Ive had to leave her with both my families, whom i am grateful for sacrificing their time to stay with her (and still do) and utilising my leave days so well lol. If youre a working mum without a stable childminder, let me know if you can relate to any of the following:
1. Cuddles and hugs 3000 at 4am to make up for 8 hrs away.
I usually wake up at 6:00am daily but since becoming a mum, 4:00am is the new deal! A perfect mum would wake up at 4:00am to organise her day or whatever perfect mums do but instead, Im giving my daughter all the hugs and cuddles that she will miss out on during the day (because mum hugs go way beyond compared to cuddles from anyone else) with her little tiny hands always trying to free herself from me so she can revert back to her dads side of the bed (like the traitor that she is).
2. The saddest goodbyes and the sweetest hellos…
Because i dont have a stable sitter, weve had to leave my daughter at three different places since she was a newborn till now. The locations changed weekly depending on who was available and I was always so relieved to find a family member available on a particular day that i needed to be present at work.
Pros?, because weve been doing this since newborn, shes grown so accustomed to it and does not cry when we leave her at either one of the three places for the day, instead (if shes at my family home for the day) she always seems to stand at the door and look out to the road when i leave for work and i can always see her little eyes trying to search for mines all the time, but i never look back at her because it will only make it harder for me to leave for work.
Sometimes, she stands at the door and mumbles a few baby blabbers at me and according to my grandma only leaves the door when im fully out of sight! theres nothing more heartbreaking than pretending that you cant hear your child calling for you or that you cant see them standing at the door watching you leave with silent eyes. No tears shed from her.
To this day my grandma always says that whenever she wakes up from her nap, the first thing she looks at, is the door, hoping id walk in and when i do, its the sweetest hellos!
3. Squeezing in a weeks worth of work into two days before taking 3 days off…
There are days where i have to leave my daughter with my grandma at my family home and so im always gliding to work. Squeezing in a weeks work becomes slightly impossible, as i have to feed her and give her a bath during my lunch hour, however, when my husband and i leave her at my in laws place, id remind my husband to visit her at lunchtime so i can sneak in atleast 3 or 4 tasks in advance to get it out of the way before taking the next few days off (and at peace knowing some things have been checked off my to do list) from work to stay with her.
4. Anxiety being the root of burnouts!
I realised over the year, that managing anxiety can minimise burnout, especially without a stable babysitter.
My anxieties are grouped into different categories: food, playtime, outdoor walks and nap time.
1.1) Food: I am fortunate that my daughter is not a picky eater and always seems to consume her food in a hearty manner, however, anxious me always seems to wonder whether i should add more snacks in case shes not actually full (which often upsets my husband because obviously shes had more than enough to eat but im making her want to eat more than that). You will be stigmatised as a mum in Tonga if your baby isnt eating much! Just as the Tongan saying that “big is beautiful”
1.2) playtime: it’s either toys, books or random thrills over a broken laptop lying around or crawling towards the powerpoints, only to be dragged back to safety and on repeat. When anxiety kicks in during my lunchbreak, im trying to incorporate all of this into the remaining 10 minutes that i have with her and add a few lullabies to minimise watching too many cartoons.
1.3) outdoor walks: Growing up with my grandma, we werent really allowed out of the house, instead she kept us inside at all times to keep us safe, however, with her grand-daughter its the total opposite! Anxiety kicks in from work when random questions like “what if baby runs to the road and she wont be able to catch up with her?(knowing how fragile my grandma is at her age)
1.4) nap-time: I value the amount of time my family puts in when taking care of her and therefore, while im at work, i sometimes wonder whether they have time to rest during the day while she sleeps, since it can he hard trying to keep up with an energetic bub!
5. One and done… for now!
One of the biggest challenges that we face include having to put off having children one after the other because theres noone around to stay with them.
We wouldn’t want to add additional burdens to our family in having to look after an extra child when in fact either one of us parents can stay at home with them (but lets face it, with the increasing cost of living, id rather not take those chances for now!)
Thanks for reading! If you can relate to any of the above, let me know!