Your Pregnancy After 35 : Back to Work (part 3) - The Cost of Childcare

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- Welcome to your Second Trimester
- Welcome to your Third Trimester

The Cost of Childcare

Childcare can be a big-budget item in your household expenses. The cost of infant and toddler care (through age 3) can be expensive, depending on the type of care you choose. In-home care can be the most costly, with placement fees and additional charges you negotiate based on extra tasks you want the care provider to perform.

Sometimes the monetary benefit you receive after returning to work may be negligible. You may want to calculate the actual costs involved with day care, and make your decisions about working based on those calculations.

Public funding is available for some limited-income families. Title EE is a program paid for with federal funds. Call your local Department of Social Services to see if you are eligible.

Other programs that can help some families with childcare costs include a federal tax-credit program, the dependent-care assistance program and earned-income tax credit. The federal government regulates these programs; contact the Internal Revenue Service for further information.

When to Start Looking for Childcare

Finding the best situation for your baby takes time. Start the process several months before you need it. For special situations, such as twins, you might want to start the process even earlier. This often means finding childcare before your baby is born.

You may find a shortage of quality childcare for children under age 2. You may have to get on a waiting list for some arrangements. If you find a care provider you’re comfortable with, ask to put down a deposit and set a date on which childcare begins. Keep in touch with the care provider. Plan to meet again before you place your child in daily care.

Going Back to Work

You may be concerned about returning to work even after you have dealt with childcare issues satisfactorily. It’s important to find ways to ease the transition from home to work. Some co-workers will be supportive; others may not be.

You may find some of your greatest challenges come after work, when you get home. Your baby and partner need your time and attention. Even when you feel tired, you may have household chores to do. Arrange with your partner before you return to work to share these responsibilities. That way, each of you can give your baby undivided attention for some part of the evening. Set aside time just for you and your partner!

Going back to work takes some planning. Not everything will go smoothly at first, but what adventure does? With the number of childcare options available today and perhaps some creative approaches to your work schedule, you will be able to find a truly happy medium—one that works for you, your partner, your employer and your baby.

Before You Return to Work

If you make the decision to return to work, there are some things you can do to make the transition from home to career easier and more successful. Set up a schedule to get back into your working routine. Be selfish about personal time—you’ll need it. But realize your partner probably needs the same thing, so allow equal time for him.

Keep an open mind. You may decide to go back to work but be miserable when you return. Is there any way to change the situation? Explore all your options, then use what works for you in your particular situation.

2 Weeks Before You Return to Work

Experiment with various feeding techniques before you make any final decisions as to whether you will continue breastfeeding or switch to bottlefeeding. You may decide to continue breastfeeding. You can do this fairly easily if your work is close to baby’s day-care situation or your job offers day-care services, allowing you to visit when it’s time to feed baby. If visiting baby during the day is not an option, you will have to pump your breasts; using a dual-action pump gets the job done twice as fast.

If you decide to switch to formula, eliminate one nursing every couple days, beginning with the early evening feeding. Switch to formula for day feedings. Eliminate the first and last feedings of the day as your final switch to formula.

Examine your wardrobe, and try clothes on! You may be larger in size (it’s natural), or your body shape may have changed somewhat, making some clothes fit differently. If you intend to breastfeed or to pump your breasts during working hours, you may need clothes that allow you to do this easily. Pack some extra things to keep at work.

Try on shoes you may not have worn for a while. Shoe size can increase ½ to 1 full size during pregnancy. Often this increase is permanent, and your feet will remain larger, even after baby’s birth.

Finalize day-care arrangements. Visit the place you have planned to leave your baby to check it out again and make sure they have enrolled your child.

It’s also a good idea to have “sick-baby” arrangements made in case your child gets sick and you can’t take him or her to day care. If you use a babysitter, you may need an alternate sitter in case she gets sick.

Evaluate your needs at home. Will you be able to eliminate certain chores or adapt yourself to accept different standards? You may not realize how valuable your time will be when you’re at home—you probably don’t want to spend time keeping everything sparkling. See if you can do chores more efficiently, such as cooking ahead for the week or shopping only once a week. Maybe you can hire someone to do some cleaning for you.

1 Week Before You Return to Work

Begin your work routine this week. Get up at the same time you would normally rise if you were going to work. Feed baby on the new schedule. Make and eat your own breakfast. Allow time to pack a lunch and fill baby’s diaper bag.

Make a list of all the supplies you will need for the baby at home and at day care. Consider diapers, formula, baby clothes, extra bottles, a second car seat and anything else you may need for your baby’s care and comfort.

Take baby to day care, then do errands or take care of other tasks. It’s all part of getting ready to go back to work next week.

Choose your clothes, and lay them out the night before you go back to work. Be sure everything is OK to wear. Pack your baby’s diaper bag with baby’s things to take to day care. Eat a good meal, and go to bed early to get a good night’s sleep.

Time-Saving, Energy-Saving Tip

Others may watch your children at your home or come in to clean for you, and you need to give them a key to your house. Yet you want to keep your house secure. One way to do this is to have two different locks for your door. When the person needs to get into the house, lock only the lock they have a key for. At other times, use both locks.

The Day You Return to Work

If possible, choose a Wednesday or Thursday to return to work. It helps you get into the routine of working, but you’ll only work a short week. This allows you to replenish your energy for the following 5-day work week.

If you can start back with fewer hours, that also helps. Five hours a day for a week is a good plan, gradually increasing to 8 hours a day.

Plan easy-to-fix meals for the first few weeks after you start working. Or prepare and freeze some dishes so you don’t have to cook. You might even want to get take-home food a couple of times.

Don’t get upset if you feel a great loss when you return to work. It’s OK to grieve and feel some guilt when you leave your baby. Or you may feel some relief to get back to work. That’s OK, too.

If you continue to breastfeed, take extra clothing to work with you in case you experience leakage of breast milk. Be sure you also have a good supply of breast pads.

 
Others
 
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