QUESTION: My husband and I are
in desperate need of advice. My husband is away seven days at a time
at work and is home seven days at a time. We just found out that he
will be away 14 days at a time after the first of the year. My mother
has always kept our daughter, who is now one, since she was six weeks
old, and I had to return to work. Our problem is, my mom is acting
like it will be big bother for her to keep our daughter now that my
husband will be away for two weeks instead of one. She says this will
interfere with her and her husband's relationship.
Our daughter has never been left with anyone
other than my husband or my mom for her entire first year of life.
I do not know what to do. How traumatic will it be for her to go
to a sitter or day care at her age? As much as I wish I could stay
home with her, we cannot do without my income too. What can I do
to make a transition to a sitter or daycare less traumatic for our
This is tearing me up. Please offer some
advice or encouraging words.
ANSWER: Your daughter has been fortunate to have loving
care from her grandmother consistently in her first year of life
while her parents worked. No doubt your mother's loving care also
gave you tremendous confidence in leaving your newborn, beyond what
a "sitter" or "daycare" could have offered you. She is irreplaceable
in her unique role to your daughter and to you and your husband!
It is understandable that your mother must set
limits around her needs and relationship. She has a life of her
own and providing ongoing primary care for your daughter in a more
continuous fashion has led to overload of your extended family system.
The good news is that your daughter is one year instead of 6 weeks
old. And it is possible for her to adjust to a new daycare situation.
However, before arranging for extra care, talk
with your husband about any possibility of delaying his new schedule.
Do not automatically presume that decisions about work must take
precedence over caretaking your daughter. Consider the possibility
of rearranging your own priorities. Your mother has stretched herself
to meet your needs as a family. Perhaps you could consider stretching
your own parameters to maintain your current arrangement with your
mother. In fact, Grandma may be suffering from the devaluation present
in our society around caretaking children. She may even feel that
she is taken for granted.
If change in your husband's work schedule is tied
to a promotion, can he forego the advancement for 6 months or one
year, when your daughter will be old enough to benefit from peer
play in a small quality daycare? Is it possible for you to adjust
your work schedule in the upcoming year to maintain the care schedule
your mother can currently provide for your daughter?
Your arrangements for the care of your daughter
have been exceptional this year. Put priorities of care above others.
Do not overlook possibilities to choose to make the maintenance
of your current daycare schedule a priority in this next year.
If maintaining the current one week on and one
week off schedule with her grandma is not possible, rest assured
that your daughter has had a very good first year. She has no doubt
established a sense of trust in the world which will help her to
adjust to changes if they are needed.
Perhaps your mother could be available to help
with the transition if an additional caretaker becomes necessary.
Ask her for help in the transition. Her supervision and/or feedback
about the new caretaker could help your daughter adjust, and give
you a pair of extra eyes to calm your fears. In fact, she could
be invaluable in helping you to secure a quality person to care
for your daughter while you and your husband are working.