Heading back to work and feeling jealous your helper gets to spend more time with your baby than you? Here's how you can deal with the green-eyed monster within...
I always knew going back to work after having a baby would be hard. What I didn’t factor on was how hard it would be to hand over my baby to my helper. Don’t get me wrong: I love my helper and absolutely appreciate everything she does for us. She’s a regular superwoman and has become such a big part of our family. But there’s also this little niggle inside of me: does my baby love our helper more than he loves me?
I remember my first week of work, when I was adjusting to full-time employment after a long break out the workforce. It was hard to say goodbye in the mornings and switch out of mum mode; I’d get choked up from the whirlwind of emotions – sadness, guilt and anxiety to name a few. All I wanted was a big squeezy cuddle to get my final baby fix for the day, but when I went over to pick him up, he flat out refused my affection. In fact, he squealed with rage and reached out instead for our helper. Gah. It was like a knife to the heart!
It’s normal to feel jealous at first
You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t feel a flutter of jealousy when your child saves their most adoring expressions and biggest giggles for your helper. After all, she’s the one who spends a big chunk, if not all, of the day with your baby, so it’s only natural they develop a strong bond. But don’t think you have to offer a rash ultimatum to your baby to be top of the pecking order. Instead, see the relationship between your bub and helper as a positive addition to your family dynamic.
Here in Singapore, our wonderful domestic helpers become part of our families. Unless you’re a bit of a weirdo, you wouldn’t expect your child to be chilly towards other family members… so don’t expect them to be ice cold towards your helper! Having a maid who loves your child and who your child loves in turn is a GOOD thing. And would you rather the alternative – that your kid squirms away from her and breaks down into fits of tears whenever they come near? Hell no! Some researchers even believe tots who form strong relationships with adults as children are healthier, both mentally and physically, later in life.
See your helper as a parenting partner
For me, having a strong relationship with my helper helps enhance my relationship with my kids. I see her as a parenting partner; all that knowledge she’s accumulating is a huge positive! You can share so much information with your helper about what your child likes and dislikes, how they interact with other children or what book they’re really into lately. And they can offer wisdom, support and empathy to you, too!
Yes, it can hurt handing over the primary care of your baby, but trust me – this adjustment period will settle. In the meantime, there are things you can do to reconnect with your bub and keep a sense of harmony in your household. I insist my husband and I do the morning and the ‘bath-book-bed’ routines, and it’s helped us keep that close bond going. Even when my brain is fried after a long day in the office and I’m beyond exhausted, throwing myself into childcare when I get home is the best way to connect with my tiny humans. So feed them, play with them, bathe them, read to them.
Congrats… your helper is amazing!
Let’s not forget that you went to great lengths to find a helper who was warm, loving and caring… of course your baby loves her! Well done them for being such a fantastic caregiver to your little one, and well done YOU for finding someone so amazing.
For anyone going through something similar, here are my words to you: your baby still loves you and no-one can replace their mummy (and no-one’s trying to!). You’ll always be number one for nighttime tuck-ins, story-time snuggles and kissing those bumps and bruises.
Your helper’s care doesn’t compete with yours, nor does her love for your baby replace yours – it merely supplements it. You are and always will be your baby’s parent, and nothing can change that. You’ve got this, Momma.