Returning to Work After Baby – A New Mom’s Guide to Finding a Nanny

In the United States, most companies give a short period of leave to new mothers. However, at some point, many new moms must return to the workforce, which means finding daycare or nanny care for the newest addition to the family. If you are one of these new moms, you know that even thinking about the process can be difficult. Not only are there many emotions involved with finding just the right person to care for your new baby, but there are also many practical issues to deal with.

You probably started thinking – at least in general – about how you wanted to handle your childcare situation during the second trimester of your pregnancy or sometime around then. The first decision to be made is whether you will be sending your child to a daycare or hiring a nanny to come to your home to take care of your child instead.

The truth is, you don’t have to spend much time worrying about this. With a little preparation, this transition can go extremely well. The most important first step is to dedicate yourself to the process of finding just the right childcare situation for you and your family. Don’t shy away from this important decision – find someone to talk to (a family member or a friend who has gone through this already, for example). Don’t make decisions just to get them out of the way. Take time and carefully think about how you want to handle this new phase in your life. Remember, if you make a hasty choice just so you no longer have to deal with it, you may find yourself needing to start all over from scratch if it doesn’t work out in the first few weeks that you are back to work – a time that is already filled with emotions and trying to balance your new schedule.

If you have decided to go with daycare, begin researching your options early. Drop in at unscheduled times to see just how the program is run and interview other parents about their experiences.

If you have decided to hire a nanny, the next step is to find just the right person to bring into your home. You want to find someone who will fit with your family long term and who you feel safe and comfortable with. You need to identify your families needs, develop a nanny job description, screen applicants, conduct interviews, have a try-out period, conduct a nanny background check, hire, and develop a work agreement. But once you’ve found your Mary Poppins, you can focus on the process of returning to work and taking care of yourself.

Here are some tips to ease the transition and make returning to work go more smoothly:

o Have your nanny start coming to your home before you return to work. This way you can practice being away from your baby, and you can also have time to watch how your nanny interacts with him or her. This step can make a difficult transition a little easier. Just remember to take it slow.
o Create a “self-care list.” When your nanny starts, you will suddenly find yourself with a bit more free time than you were used to in those few weeks before you go back to work. Plan ahead and use that time to do things for yourself. Get a massage, see a movie, or simply enjoy an hour talking with your girlfriends. Taking time for yourself will pay off when you are back at work.
o Enlist friends and family to offer you support. You may feel overwhelmed, sad, or possibly even excited about going back to work. Talk through all of your emotions and make sure to have a few people available on speed dial for the first few weeks back at work.
o Prepare for feeding your baby when you are back at work by pumping your breast milk in the weeks before you return to work. If you have a freezer stash set, you will feel more relaxed than if you pump for the very first time on your first day back. If you have other plans for feeding your child, work them out in the early weeks as well. And make sure you talk to your nanny about how to feed your child – from proper handling of breast milk to the best way and time to give a bottle.
o Set up a system through which you can communicate with your nanny about your child. You can leave a notebook in which the nanny can write notes throughout the day or a whiteboard on the wall for lists. Not only is this a practical way to find out how your baby is doing during the day, but it also will establish a part of your child’s baby book that you can look back on as he or she gets older.
o Finally, stay connected when you are at work. If your nanny has a camera phone, ask to be sent pictures during the day. Set up times at which you will call each day (leaving open the option for additional calls if you need them!). And ask your nanny to call you if there are any concerns or questions at any time.

Going back to work after having a baby can be tricky for any new mom. Setting up a plan of action and following it will make things easier. Good luck!