Leaving your child to go to work is never easy and can be emotionally challenging. You might feel stuck in a crossroads between being there physically for your toddler or returning to your responsibilities at work. Reminding yourself that you and your toddler need to develop a sense of independence from each other is critical. It will allow your toddler to grow, build friendships and help progress their emotional, creative and language skills. But don’t worry, there are a few things you can do to maintain your relationship with your child while you’re at work.
You might feel like you’re having less time with your child when you’re not with them, but you scheduling special time after work will do wonders. Think quality, not quantity – switch off your phone, and your work brain and really be present with them.
Remember that your child misses you as much as you missed them, make time after work to have a chat, cuddle, play with their favourite toy or read them a book. You can also do a task you love doing together, like involving them with making dinner, baking or playing a quick game of hide and seek. There is no shortage of the activities you can do with your child once you’re home, and these will make memories they’ll keep forever.
Quality time is important but you might still be wanting to do more. So why not leave them notes? Writing down a few notes around the house for them to find (if they’re home with a carer) or leaving them with your daycare centre to give to them can make your child feel special and loved. Also leaving a note, joke or encouraging message in their lunchbox can be a fun surprise for them to find every day directly from you.
If you find yourself having to travel for work, getting home after they go to bed or just generally being apart for long periods, you might feel deflated, upset and guilty. Facetime can give you bursts of happiness and then after they hang up, you might feel lonely. Don’t worry, your child is missing you just as much and cannot wait to cuddle you when you’re back. In the meantime, think of cute little presents or items you can leave for them or bring them back from your time away. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, and often your child will prefer a sentimental present. If your toddler loves rocks, an example could be picking up a rock in a park in the town you’re in and letting them know it reminded you of them. Letting your child know you’re always thinking of them is key and will further develop your relationship.
Jot it down
Your child might have no idea what your job is or what you do at work, but it doesn’t mean they don’t want to be involved. Take a notebook with you that’s just for your child and write down what you did in simple terms. This will allow your toddler to feel like they were a part of your day even though they weren’t there and it can also develop their vocabulary. It also gives you the chance to think about your toddler and what they might enjoy hearing about your day.
Nothing beats a photograph or a video for both you and your child. Being away is never easy, but a little video or recording of your voice can make your toddler know you’re there. Sending it to their carer or teacher gives your toddler the chance to ask to hear your voice if they miss you or are feeling lonely. What about you? Most childcare centres will give you regular updates through photos or videos either daily or weekly. Alternatively, if your child is at home, ask their carer to send you updates so you can feel involved in their day.
Being at work when your baby is growing will always be difficult, but implementing a few of these ideas will help you stay connected to your child and will also let you enjoy your day at work while keeping in touch.