Being a mom is a blessing, but that doesn't mean that it defines all women. These days, many moms decide to continue their career and go back to work after the birth. There are a lot of factors that go into the decision of whether the mom stays home or goes back to the office — including financial factors and personal ambitions — but either way, moms can't help but wonder how it will impact their ability to be a good mom and bond with their baby.
The truth is that things are different for working moms versus stay at home moms. While the bonding experience is different for each mom and each baby, there are different hurdles and barriers based on whether the mom is working out of the home or not. Working moms have less time to devote to special activities and confusion over feedings can happen. But stay at home moms face different pressures that can interfere with their ability to bond with the baby.
Just like every other parenting debate, there are positives and drawbacks to each option. But in the end, all moms can usually forge a deep and strong bond with their baby. Here is how bonding with baby is different for working moms vs. SAHMs.
20 Just The Same At The Beginning
Many moms begin bonding with their baby when they are in the womb, and a lot have success in the first days after the birth. Although sometimes bonding takes time, the things that happen in the beginning are the same for a stay at home mom or a working mom.
A lot of the bonding from the baby's perspective is biological, with the baby instinctively trying to nurse and recognizing his mom by her scent and her voice. Biology has even made his vision best at the distance from his mother's arms to her face, which means a lot of bonding happens as they look into each other's eyes.
19 Getting Ready To Separate
For working moms, though, that period of bonding and focusing on the baby can be short-lived. Some women return to work after just six weeks at home with the baby.
That period before a working mom goes to work can be tough. While a SAHM can focus on baby, some working moms feel the need to distance themselves a little. They may have to begin pumping and introduce a bottle and take practice runs of leaving the house without the baby. It can be so tough on a new mom who feels like she has to strengthen her heart for separation.
18 SAHM Guilt Happens, Too
Working moms might think that they have it tough, but SAH moms have to leave the house sometimes, too. They might not have to separate that early, but they also need time to themselves, especially first-time moms who might have a hard time giving up their independence and be constantly needed by a newborn.
SAH moms — even those who badly need a break — can still struggle when they separate with the baby. And they might have even more guilt because they feel like they should want to always be with the baby. Staying bonded while spending time apart can be difficult on working moms and SAHMs, but they just have different roads to navigate.
17 Seeing Baby Bond With Caregiver
The big difference in leaving the baby for a working mom is that she has to pick a regular caregiver who will be spending a lot of time with the baby. And they have to watch as that caregiver bonds with the baby.
On the one hand, a mom wants to know that her baby is loved and well cared for by the nanny or day care provider. On the other hand, it's easy to get jealous, especially when the baby lights up at the sight of his caregiver. As much as it can comfort a mom to know her baby is loved, It can feel like the bond is changing, and that can hurt.
16 Working Moms Deal With Schedule Issues
It's important for babies to follow a schedule. While moms have to be flexible when things happen such as sickness, it can provide stability to follow a schedule of meals and naps. The problem is that often working moms don't get to set the schedule.
If the baby is at a daycare or with the nanny during the day, that means that they are the ones who dictate the nap schedule and such. Moms might want things to be different on days off and vacations. But those days can be extra stressful because of the change in the routine. It might be a barrier to the bonding.
15 Nights Are More Frustrating For Working Moms
As tough as night feedings can be, late nights can be an opportunity for moms and babies to bond. But for working moms, they might be too frustrating to get much bonding time in.
SAHMs might be able to take a nap with the baby during the day, but working moms have to get up and go to the office, even when they have been up all night. Some babies who are away from mom during the day regress in sleep to be up with mom during the night, so working moms can take even more of a hit to their sleep schedule. It's tough to forge a bond through the exhaustion.
14 SAHMs Get More Time With Mommy Friends
The motherhood experience has its ups and downs, but sometimes SAHMs have an advantage in that they have more time to bond with other mommy friends, which in turn helps them to understand and appreciate their babes.
Working moms have less time to get together with other mommy friends, which means that they don't have as much of an outlet for their frustrations. And they don't get the advice and encouragement that could help with bonding. It's a disadvantage that might hurt the entire family, so we recommend that working moms try to take some time for some playdates so the mom and the baby can have some friends to help them along the way.
13 Attachment Phase Is Rough On Working Moms
After a working mom gets over the first few weeks of guilt dropping off the baby at daycare, they might find that it's not as hard as they expected. When the baby is young, he doesn't usually get too upset at the drop off. But at about 10 months old or so, things change.
The attachment phase can be really hard on any mom. But while SAHMs have the occasional date night or other event, working moms have to go through the pain of leaving a child trying to cling to them every day. This is when the big guilt kicks in that a SAHM can only imagine.
12 Confusion Over Feedings
While both SAHMs and working moms can be successful at breastfeeding or choose to go to formula at any time, we thought it was worth a section to discuss a breastfeeding issue that can make a big difference in bonding for working moms.
The need to go back to work means a breastfeeding mom needs to start pumping before going to the office, and she has to introduce a bottle. But some babies refuse the bottle, which means that they nurse all night long. And others refuse to nurse when they get too used to the bottle, which could force weaning long before a mom is ready. Either way, it's hard on a nursing mom.
11 Limited Bonding Time And Household Duties
While dads are great these days about helping bear the load of chores and such, the truth is that most of the time, it's women who take of the majority of the household duties. They do most of the meal planning and cooking, and they take care of the laundry and at least some of the cleaning in most households.
That's still true for a lot of working moms. If they still have to take care of dinner after coming home from work, that might mean a very limited amount of time with the baby before it's bedtime. It can really impact bonding time.
10 SAHMs Can Feel Unappreciated
On the flip side, life as a stay at home mom can feel like it's filled with chores and baby duty all the time. It might feel like a luxury to stay home, but a lot of times, SAHMs can feel unappreciated.
As much as a mom might love what she is doing and how much time she gets to spend with her baby and taking care of things for her family, she might start to feel resentful. Since it's not the quantity of time but the quality of time that is important, bonding can be a big problem in those circumstances.
9 Trying To Bond While Away
The good news these days is that there are ways that working moms can bond with the baby even when they have to be out and about. Apps like Skype allow the mom to peek in on the baby from the office.
Some daycares have online cams that allow moms to see what the baby is doing during the day, and traveling for business is a little bit easier when moms know that they can still have a chance to see their little one when they are away. It's still hard to be away from the baby, but technology can help the mom continue to strengthen their bond.
8 Mommy Perfection Pressure On SAHMs
The life of a SAHM was very different a decade or two ago. While they had the same work load, in many cases, the expectations were a lot different. The Pinterest generation has changed SAHM-life forever, since the pressure to be perfect has gone up about a dozen notches.
Now, it's not just about keeping the house clean and maybe being room mom at school. These days, the snacks for play dates have to be nutritious and elaborate and cute. Lunches have to be creative and balanced. And birthday parties can take weeks to plan and prepare. Working moms can feel the Pinterest pressure too, but it's definitely tougher for women who stay home.
7 Less Time For Baby Activities
Mommy and me classes can do a lot to help mom and baby connect. While a SAHM might want to sign up for two or three activities to get themselves and their toddlers out of the house and have some fun together, that isn't an option for working moms.
Yet many try to make up for it on weekends. There is a lot of pressure on moms to give their baby a great head start. But there are only so many hours in a day. So playing catch is less of a bonding experience and more of an obligation, especially for working moms.
6 Colic Even Tougher On Working Moms
Colic can cause the baby to cry for hours at a time, and that can just break any mom's heart. But it's a lot worse on a working mom than one who stays at home.
Colic is at its worst in the late afternoon. That might be because the baby has had a stressful day and feels comfortable letting loose with mom. But that doesn't make it any easier for a mom who just wants to come home from a long day and spend it bonding with the baby. That precious time before the baby is ready for bed can be spoiled by colic every evening.
5 Sick Day Stressors
It's never easy when the baby is sick. Between cleaning up the vomit — and sometimes wearing it — the fussiness and the lack of sleep, moms go through a lot during those tough days. But there is still a lot of bonding that can happen when the mom is rocking and soothing her sweet sick little one.
Unfortunately, sick days add another level of stress on working moms, who might still have a deadline at work. Even when they can take off, they might have to try to fulfill their work duties while nursing a sick baby. The mom might not be able to bond with all of the divided attention and extra stress.
4 Bed Time Bonding Can Be Difficult For Working Moms
One of the best times to bond with the baby is during bed time. Bath time can be a fun, and then a little lotion massage, getting in pjs and having a last bottle or nursing session can be great at calming down the little one for the night and bonding the relationship. Add on a good baby book, and it is a memory that moms cherish.
But working moms might not have the opportunity to do the bed time routine. They miss out on those magical moments, and that might be one of the biggest downsides to being a working mom.
3 Financial Worries Impact SAHM Bonding
Finances are a burden that parents carry from the moment that they realize that there is a baby on the way. Many people might think that SAHMs are free from worrying about money issues, but the truth for many is that it might be an even bigger stressor on the family, and it might even hurt their ability to bond with the baby.
SAHMs can feel less empowered to help in a financial situation. Some feel a great pressure to try to save on the expenses by using coupons and being very careful about spending. They might feel resentful that they aren't contributing and that hurts the entire family.
2 Weekends Are Key For Working Moms
Saturdays and Sundays take on an entirely new meaning for working moms, and holidays and vacations are different too. The pressure to get bonding time in can be really great.
Some moms plan elaborate activities and special events to go to with their kids when they have days off. They try to cram in all the things that they felt they were missing during the week. But sometimes that means that they don't get the enjoyment of just getting on the floor and playing together. Bonding can come in small ways, but it can be hard for working moms to slow down enough to realize it.
1 Both Need Support From Dads
SAHMs and working moms can bond with the baby in very similar ways, but they have different stresses that they have to overcome to get those sweet moments. For both types of moms, some support from dad can make all the difference.
Whether it is taking some of the burden of the home life or chores or giving the mom a chance to have some time with friends or joining in on the activities, taking away the stress can help mom to have more quality time with the baby. With support from the dad, the entire family can bond, and that's just as important.