For many women, going back to work after a baby isn't something they do because they chose to.
Whether you need the income or need a breath of fresh air and like doing what you do, whether it's after 6 weeks or 6 months, many women will end up working outside of the home for at least part of the day.
And that means sending your babies out to a babysitter or daycare.
In most situations, there aren't a whole lot of options; and there usually isn't a whole lot of flexibility either. Most in-home babysitters have been doing things the way they do things for a while, and aren't always able or willing to accommodate every single baby that comes in. Unfortunately, it's normal to see babysitting groups that number upward of 7 babies all in one room being taken care of by one adult (and I could hardly just take care of my TWINS!).
In an official daycare, the staff to baby ratio will be higher, but they have other regulations and guidelines that they need to follow, which can make an ideal sleep situation tough for a little baby.
So what's a mom to do? Do you have to choose between a well-rested baby and a job?
Definitely not! But you may have to put in some work beforehand to make sure that you're set up for success.
To set yourself up for success, before you even go back to work and bring your baby to the babysitter, try to do some research. Who is in your area that would be an option for you to send to? If you can try to talk to them or someone else who sends there to find out some info (aside for the usual "how much does she charge?").
Some things to find out might be:
If you're already sending your baby to a babysitter, already agreed to send him somewhere or only have one option in the area, here are some things you can do to get your babysitter on board:
Talk; don't attack. Brainstorm ideas to make it work with your babysitter. Remember that she has a job, and she knows how she is good at doing it; a mother coming in with a new set of rules can be daunting, overwhelming, or sometimes impossible. You're both on the same side, so by coming in with a calm, level-headed approach, she'll be more likely to try to accommodate you.
Do what you HAVE to (and it's okay if the rest slides). The two main things that I focus on maintaining are: preventing overtiredness and preventing an eat-sleep association. Ideally, baby should be falling asleep completely independently at the babysitter as well (no pacifier or rocking), but kids are really great at figuring out which “rules” match up with which caregiver, so most babies tend to be fine at falling asleep independently at home even if the babysitter is, for example, rocking her to sleep (yes, that really happened with one of my clients!).
Get Creative. If she doesn't have a separate room for your baby, you can hang up 3M Command Hooks from the ceiling and use a curtain/shower curtain/old sheet to create a cheap, easy make-shift partition. Or maybe there's a spare bathroom your baby can sleep in. Don't be afraid to think of something radical that will make it work!
During the newborn stage, there's really no such thing as a "schedule" - newborns are just too immature for that. If your baby can have a real first nap at home before you take her out, that's great. If not, it's okay if you have to wake her from her first nap so that you can go to the babysitter. (Better that she should be woken from her first nap than that she should be overtired when she falls asleep!)
And, it works the same in the other direction too - your babysitter shouldn't worry about putting your baby into bed shortly before you arrive. If you have to wake her to take her home, that's fine.
So what was your experience? What did you do with your baby when you went back to work that did or didn't work? Let me know in the comments below.