Returning to Work After Being Stay at Home Mom

Updated on June 11, 2009
K.M. asks from Sacramento, CA
4 answers

Hi moms~

I have been lucky enough to be a stay at home mom for the first year of my little guys’ life. State budget cuts and the general economy are putting me back in the work force and I'm really dreading it. I'm trying to be positive that he'll be getting good experiences at the daycare center (Phoenix School) making friends and learning things I may not be teaching him. Advice on what to expect for me as I return to work mother guilt etc., if anyone has heard things good or bad about the daycare center I have found, general suggestions on how to get us both transitioned to this next stage are appreciated.

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for your support. Today was our first day at daycare. I spent about an hour with him playing with the kids and interacting with the teachers I even got a chance to meet a few of the parents. I left him for 2 hours when I arrived I could see that he was crying on the playground and someone was hugging him and patting his back (he didn't see me) but I could hear the shriek when I got out of the car, which continued when he was taken inside and I was filling out paperwork with the director. So we'll try again tomorrow we'll be adding time over the next 2 weeks until I start work and hopefully all with go well and he won't get sick to boot. I didn't cry today but I know I will when I actually have to start work but it means more than you know to know that I'm not alone and it's OK.

More Answers



answers from San Francisco on


I think every working mom totally understands how you feel. I returned to work when my daughter was 5.5 months. I cried the whole weekend before and spent most of the first week in tears- but it does get easier especially once you see your little oe doing well in their daycare setting. My daughter is also in a daycare center- what helped me get her ready was taking her to "visit" a few times before she actually started- I would stay with her in the room and let staff interact and hold her- that way she saw that I was comfortable with them and that everything was "okay". It also gave me the opportunity to get to know the staff and feel more comfortable with them- made them lass "strangerish".
Some moms have even left their kids for a few hours as a test- I did not but can see the benifit-
For me also what has made this easier is that it has made my daughter very social- there are days were I am certain she is happier at daycare with her friends then stuck with boring mom- she is now 10 months and even at this age she has developed "friendships" with her classmates. Evenings and weekends are now special times and we make the most of them.

Also, if at all possible- have your husband (or supportive friend) go with you the first day- that way you have someone to pull you out of the room so you don't linger and make the goodby too long- I don't think I would ever have left that day if my husband had not pushed me out the door!

Good luck, be strong, and it is okay to cry.


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answers from Fresno on

Hi K.,
I'm a full-time working mom of 2 girls, and I just wanted to send you a note of support. I didn't get much of a maternity leave with my first child since my husband had been laid off, but with my second daughter I was able to take 4 months off after she was born, and those were the best 4 months of my life! I LOVED staying home with my girls! So I know how hard it is to contemplate returning to work. For my family, it was a financial necessity that I returned to work, and dropping off my baby at daycare that first day was easily the worst experience of my life. She cried, and I tried so hard to smile and pretend I was happy so she wouldn't freak out. Ugh!! I cried the whole way to work that morning. I am only telling you this so you know that it's normal and ok to feel the way you're feeling!

Since your little guy is old enough to understand some of what's going on, I would suggest bringing him to the day care a few times before you actually return to work. You do not even need to leave, just let him explore and get to know his teachers and the other kids in his class. A visit of 20 minutes each time would be sufficient (call ahead and schedule this so the teachers can be prepared). That way on the first day it won't be so hard on the both of you. As the other moms mentioned, although it'll be the hardest thing you will ever do in your life, you have to make your goodbye in the morning quick. Hand him off to his teacher, give him a hug and a kiss, and tell him, "I'll be back after your naptime to pick you up!" (Or whatever time you'll be there) - and then LEAVE. He may cry, but chances are he will stop as soon as you're out the door. You can always call an hour later and see how he's doing if it helps put your mind at ease.

It does get easier to go to work with time. Now my little girls take great pride in telling their school friends what I do for a living, and I cried with happiness when my older daughter told her teacher that when she grows up, she wants to be a great mommy and run a shopping mall, because that's what her mommy does! So take heart - your son will see what you do as having value and adding to your family, and he will respect what you are doing. This, too, will be a learning experience for him, and it will enrich his life. You do not need to feel guilty for contributing to your family in this way; rather you should feel proud of your accomplishments! Great moms come in many different varieties! =)



answers from Stockton on

Hi K.,

I went to work when my son (now almost 3) was 6 months old and I'm on my last month of maternity leave with my daughter.

This February I put my son in preschool with Merryhill and I worried. He's very shy outside of our home. And let me tell you, the first day was HORRIBLE. He screamed and cried and reached out to me calling, "Mama, mama!" and I pretended to be happy and cheerful and left in tears. I cried all the way to work. I cried on and off all through the work day. He cried when we went to pick him up. In short, it was awful. But over the course of a month, things settled down once we got a routine going. NOW he wakes up every morning asking if he can go to school! He loves it! He loves the structure, the interaction, the toys, the lunch, the singing and games... much more fun than home :-) And when I knew he was happy, I quit feeling guilty and like I made a good decision.

Another mom at my job has had her baby in daycare since she was an infant and she said it doesn't really get any easier emotionally. She says she wants to be at home with her baby, which seems the most important thing instead of being at work. I feel the same way. Given a choice, I'd stay home with my kids. But since I have to work, I'm happy that my son seems happy with our present situation.

I don't know how much your child understands, but I talked to my son about where he was going. I took him with me to check out daycares to see his reactions. So I reminded him of that and talked about what he'd see and do. I told him to go to his teacher if he needed anything.

Be consistent. Have your child in daycare the same days and times so they develop a feel for the schedule and come to know what to expect. Try to drop off at the same time every day and pick them up at the same time. Tell them something they'll understand, like I tell my son, "Mommy will be here to pick you up and bring you home after you finish eating lunch."

Be calm and cheerful even if you feel like you are dying inside at the moment. Make your kid feel like it's a happy exciting thing to be where they are at. The first day I felt that working just so you can afford to pay someone else to take care of your children is barbaric and I was upset, angry, and wondering about my mothering abilities because I was, in effect, leaving my precious child with total strangers. But I didn't let him see any of that.

Once you get a routine including the daycare going, everything will be fine. Good luck to you!



answers from Fresno on

I am a teacher and was off 6 months with my 1st child and I am off right now with my 2nd child for 5 months. Going back to work was so hard, because you feel really guilty, but after about a month you get used to it. I love that my daughter is in a home daycare with a couple kids where I feel that she is loved and cared for rather than just another kid. I think finding the right placement is key to your sanity. My daughter who is 2 loves going to daycare and playing with her friends and she loves her daycare lady. My daughter is also more advanced than most kids her age and I attribute that to a preschool like setting that she is in. She is very verbal and social and interacts well with other kids, because she has been exposed to sharing and a little more structure than being at home. I have to work for economic reasons, but I also love my job. Since I work full-time I try to do lots of fun things with my kids, such as swim lessons, Little Gym and we go out of town a lot to places she would like. If I didn't work we wouldn't be able to do a lot (or any) of those things. So there is always a trade off.

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