Thursday, March 12, 2009

Back to Work: Thoughts from the 2nd Day

Or, really could be titled: "You can't be too organized or too nice"

My number one thought is YOU CAN DO IT! I wavered throughout my maternity leave - at times wanting much more stimulation and projects and at times being perfectly content with PJs and CSI:New York. The bottom line, at least for our family, was that not working was not an option. I feel privileged to be only working 3 days, but working 0 days was not in the plan. So, the sooner you can understand that no one will pay you to stay home and that daycare MUST work out, the better you will be. (This is not to say that it was an easy transition for me - I must have told Erik 317 times in the last week that I was just going to quit my job and stay home and that Girly told me she agreed).

The next thought is: be organized! I can take anal to a whole new level, but I feel that over-organized is better than under-organized. It will certainly depend on your daycare situation, but being at a daycare center or a larger place with lots of kids means LOTS of bodies and labeling everything. I ordered labels from Label Daddy and they are working great so far. I got the combo pack with 3 sizes to use for clothes, bottles, caps - all kinds of stuff. Some have peeled off the bottles, but I really think any kind of label will come off with something that is washed and sterilized so often. I also ordered bumpy name labels from - I think this will work best for bottles. Also, I kind of sorted out things that needed labels and things I thought wouldn't go to daycare - don't waste your time. Just label everything so you aren't racing around trying to find labels in the mornings. This includes pacifiers - label them all.

I typed up an emergency contact sheet for daycare and made one for me and Erik, and also our parents or whoever else might be picking up baby. Daycare can be a little scatterbrained, so I was sure to leave one in the Girl's room, too. I also typed up her typical schedule and little hints about her (when she gets the paci, how warm the bottles are, that she cries when you take the bottle out of her mouth ... whatever). The daycare providers are certainly great with kids, but they don't know your kid yet. I send the Girl with a Lands End monogrammed bag everyday with her bottles, a jacket, ziploc bags for dirty stuff, papers - whatever she might need.

On that note, be NICE to your daycare providers. Not that any of you are anything less than super nice people, but I think it is surprising that some parents just aren't nice. My friend Marie told me that she gives her daycare provider a card every week with her $ in it and sometimes a little candy or something. The lady said Marie was the first person in TEN YEARS to really thank her! After all, these are the people you have entrusted with your child's life ... if your baby gets extra special attention because her parents are lovely, then great!

Next tip ... LET IT GO. This will be a work in progress for me because I pretty much perseverate over every.little.thing. I think it will make me a better parent when I am forced to get over the little things - like Girly smelling like spit up the first day when I picked her up because her-shirt-was-dirty-and-I-probably-would-have-caught-it-but-they-didn't-because-they-were-busy. Your child will not follow your "home" schedule while at daycare, at least not at first. They probably will, however, be able to transition to a "home" schedule and a "school" schedule with time.

If possible, make Dad do the drop off in the morning, at least the first day. I cried in my kitchen, but actually physically leaving her would have been worse. Then, you can race to pick baby up after work and be the good guy!

Pumping (or, a good way to literally suck hours out of your day): I can see why people stop breastfeeding when they go back to work. Milk supply issues are a potential concern and certainly wouldn't have shown up yet for me, but it takes some dedication to deal with ALL the supplies you need for the day. Also, depending on your work environment, it may or may not be so easy to take the time out of your day to pump. For me, it is pretty easy. I now leave the house with four bags every day and my big hospital mug of water: work bag with laptop, pump bag with all supplies, purse, lunch. I need to find a way to consolidate ... will probably order another Lands End bag for me (I'm obsessed) to hold all the pump paraphernalia and lunch, at least. This is where the Medela Freestyle Pump is so great - can go in any bag you want.

I need to pump 3 times at work, at least for the beginning till we get this all figured out. I try to pump as close to the times the Girl eats as possible. I bring 6 little bottles with me and 3 sets of the pump parts, along with sterilizer bag, ziploc bag, pump, freezer bag and ice cooler, burp cloth, extra breast pads and a log to write down pump amounts. I also put a diaper in the bag so it smells like "baby". I have access to a microwave and fridge, but it is difficult to sterilize the parts and set them out to dry - much easier to sterilize and throw in a ziploc bag to take home, and then just use a spare set next time.

Your morning routine will be interesting - took us 1 hour and 45 minutes the first day! I have to leave at 7:15 to get to Topeka, so for us it works best for Dad to give a bottle first thing on those mornings while I pump instead of me nursing her and then pumping after. I was stressed about her getting 4 bottles on those days instead of 3, but in the end I think it is better for me not to get up so early and I focus on nursing her as soon as we get home and then before bed. Eventually it will probably be easier / faster for me to nurse first thing and not have to pump after. Lay out baby's clothes the night before so Dad can dress them and have bottles in the fridge ready to go in the cooler pack.

This is what I know so far .... it's a transition, you know ...


Marie Hooker said...

All very good advice!! Letting go is VERY hard for those of us that are control freaks, but I am learning to manage as well. P always smells like our daycare provider's parfume, and I used to change his clothes when we got home 'cause it bothered me so much! I have stopped doing that, but it was hard for me to have him smell like HER and not ME!! Silly, I know...

Anonymous said...

We use a similar labels for my son's bottles/dishes at daycare. Idmelabels provides best name labels and beautiful designs & colors.