Parenting Q & A
Ellen Barrett, a parent educator at Family Connections (formerly known as Heights Parent Center) for the last 12 years, fields questions from parents about the daily ups and downs of parenting. The same issues affect many parents. If you have a question for Barrett, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. My wife and I both work full time and we have a 7-month-old who is in full-time daycare. I am worried about my wife’s constant level of stress around balancing work and motherhood. She loves her job and we have chosen a quality daycare, but she still expresses concern about the possible lifelong harm we are doing to our son by not having a parent at home. How can I help her to feel good about our choices and alleviate her fears about the negative impact on our son?
A. Many families are feeling exactly the way you are. Considering today’s economy and the many strides women have made in the professional world, many parents can’t rely on their parents’ model of how to manage this juggling act.
Here are some perspectives to keep in mind as you try to find the right balance:
- Recognize the benefits you and your child can gain from daycare. If you have done your homework and found a quality facility, use it to your advantage to enhance your parenting."
Daycare providers can be an extra set of eyes and ears on your child and may notice things you might miss (milestones as well as concerns). They have experience to help you through tricky transitions, such as potty training, so take advantage of their professional support.
Daycare providers can also help your child learn to trust and build close relationships with people beyond the family. This will be important as he grows and meets more of the world.
- Realize that exposure to other toys and environments can build skills and interests in your child that your home might not provide. This will give you added opportunity to see all of your child’s special talents.
- Try to retain the schedule and rhythm that your daycare uses. Kids use routine to learn to predict and make sense of the world. Your daycare uses routine to keep the day running smoothly. You can take advantage of that and provide a safe predictable world for your child in his early years.
- Be sure to find support from other parents who are working outside the home. Find out if your daycare has parent nights and, if not, think about starting one. A monthly potluck or seasonal get-together would give you the opportunity to meet the other parents. You will find a great deal of comfort in sharing similar stories and challenges.
- Remember that you are both whole persons with many strengths and talents, and your work environment allows you to keep those qualities strong and vibrant. This can help you to be a better parent when you are home with your child.
- Make sure that, even though work and home life take up most of your time and energy, you find time for each other. Your relationship with your spouse and the support you give and gain from each other is vital for the overall health of your family.
Balancing the demands of work and home life is often stressful, and it is understandable that it can cause second guessing. By taking advantage of the benefits of your daycare and recognizing the positive personal growth elements your work life provides, you can have a happy and well-rounded family life.