I would love to ‘have it all’; a great career, lovely home life, and quality time with my son – but the reality is, if you want to have a full-time career, someone else is spending time with your children while you go to work each day!
I returned to work when my son was 10 weeks old. Sebastian was born in September, and I returned to work in December for 3 days a week for 3 weeks, and then full-time from January.
Of course, the idea of leaving a baby that young with a complete stranger was difficult, but we didn’t have any family we could rely on, and financially I needed to return to full-time work. At that time childcare places in my area were hard to get, and in the end we selected Family Day Care.
Psychologically it was harder than I expected, I always knew he would be in full-time care. He would be there a minimum of 9 hours a day with someone else feeding him, playing with him, changing him and interacting with him . . . but the ‘mummy guilt’ came from fear that he would love his ‘daycare mum’ more than me.
The fact was, she spent more waking hours with him than I did!!!
Over the next 3 years she would be involved in so much, she would ween him off breast milk to formula, transition him to solids, see him smile, watch him laugh, crawl and walk – likely for the first time (before we would). She would teach him the names of objects, help him count, learn the ABC and toilet train him. When he fell over outside playing with other children, she would dust him off, give him a cuddle and assure him everything would be ok.
Initially, I was jealous too – I wanted to have all of those ‘firsts’! But the reality was, I also needed to be at work to provide for him in other ways. Over time, (and quite quickly), I saw how much she truly loved him too, how he became an extension of their family, and what a great job she was doing being there for him when I couldn’t. I became appreciative; now he had two mums, more love and more attention overall.
During that time, I continued to be successful in my work; both my husband and I gained promotions and found success in our careers. When we would return home from work each day, we were able to dedicate 100% of our attention to Sebastian; and the ‘balance’ was excellent!! But it could not have been possible without the dedication and professionalism of our daycare family.
We were able to go to work and focus because we had complete trust and faith in them – you couldn’t do that if you were constantly concerned about you child!
Before long I had zero guilt in leaving my son in daycare each day. I knew he was in safe-hands, with a trained professional; he was fed, entertained, challenged and developing well.
Recently I hosted Work & Life: how to get the right balance, an event providing practical hints and tips on ‘how’ to get the balance right in your life. We held the event at Foundation Early Learning in Coorparoo; a new childcare centre that opened in January. My son now attends this centre 3 days a week, and 2 days with the Family Day Care mum he has been with since he was 10 weeks old.
It was in discussing this event with the director that we talked about ‘balance’ and the support a good childcare provider can give a working parent.
My son loves going there, he has friends his own age, a wonderful facility full of toys, games and activities, and a team of dedicated professionals watching over him all day. The centre is open 6.30am to 6.30pm and provides all of his meals; so no need to panic in the mornings looking for something healthy for his lunch. We get more quality time together.
I could not imagine attempting to work full-time whilst worrying about Sebastian all day. How that would impact my productivity, my stress levels and overall performance in my role. Even now that I have flexibility in my work, Sebastian still attends daycare full-time. This ensures that during those core business hours I am as productive as possible, with minimal distractions; but once I pick him up it is mummy and son time – guilt free – I don’t take calls or reply to emails during that time; and that is how I have ‘balance’ in my life.
If you are a parent, choosing the right childcare provided is essential in ensuring you can have the right ‘balance’; no guilt, no stress, no panic – just trust, faith and pleasure in knowing they are in safe hands!
**Foundation Early Learning centre in Coorparoo have vacancies – for more information contact Angela on firstname.lastname@example.org
**Our family day care provider also has vacancies – email me on email@example.com and I will pass on your details
I am a passionate business leader, based in Brisbane. I am mum to a threenager; and I understand the battle to find work/life balance. I call a spade a spade, and I’m a huge Rugby League fan.
I believe in Performance-based employment, Flexible work environments, equal pay for equal work, and the ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality.