The average Australian mum returns to work when her child is around eight to nine months old. For most of us the transition is a shock to the system on every level; returning to the demands of work when you’re operating on much less sleep, settling your little one into daycare and establishing a new routine at home.
Maternity leave meant you spent every hour of the day and night together, but now you're back at work you need to establish a new way of connecting and caring for your little one, with a lot less time. Breastfeeding mums may also find the change in hormones another challenge; some babies will stop breastfeeding altogether and most will take time to adjust to the new routines and feeding and settling patterns.
“Try not to get upset if this happens,” Kindlerling Mothercraft nurse, Chris Minogue. “There are plenty of ways to reconnect with your little one at the end of the day, and these strategies work for babies as well as older children.”
The three most important things
- To thrive your children need 20 minutes of your full attention every single day.
- How do you want your children to remember you and their childhood? Let the answer guide your decision on how to spend this time.
- Embrace spontaneity! Work is leaking into every aspect of our modern lives, we need to give our children the gift of fun.
Ask yourself: What do you want your child to remember ?
Be honest with yourself, what’s important to you? Let your answer to this question guide your decision about how to spend that 20 minutes of time with your child every day. Maybe it’s reading stories, or making up games, or breastfeeding or riding bikes. Maybe you want them to know sitting around the table as a family, at the end of the day. Whatever it is, just make sure you’re present in that moment. At the end of the day this time is what our children need most from us.
Quality over quantity: Children need 20 minutes of your full attention every day
In order to thrive children, need 20 minutes of your full attention every single day, but it must be your full attention. Put down your phone. Sit on the floor, cuddle them, bath them, read them a story, or breastfeed them. Look into their eyes, talk to them, touch them. Focus only on them for those full 20 minutes. Even if you’re picking up your child from daycare at 6pm at night, you need to set aside these sacred 20 minutes.
- To manage this, we need to be as pre-prepared as possible. Make a batch of easy meals on the weekend so you can freeze them. Make them as simple as possible so all you need to do is heat them up and sit down together and eat.
- Start with bath time. Children generally love water and this gives you a great chance to sit down and interact with them while they’re sitting in the water, splashing around. It’s also a great way to break up the day; a natural divide between ‘school’ and ‘home’.
- Breastfeed your baby or look into their eyes, cuddle them and just sit down for those first 20 minutes when you get home. Switch off your phone and just be with them.
- Sit down on the floor and play. As soon as you get home, do this for 20 minutes and you’ll notice how after this time spent your child will be calmer, and happier to just play on their own while you then tend to everything else that needs to be done.
In our busy world, we need to create time for our children to remember. There is such an overlap now between work and everyday life, there’s no real break. By focusing on what we want our children to remember most about their childhoods. Head to the park for a walk at 6pm one night, swap dinner at home for a picnic, or jump in the car and drive to the beach for a late evening swim. These are the moments are children will remember about their childhood.
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