Any parent will tell you that whilst a new baby brings an unbelievable amount of joy, it also heralds the advent of a world of guilt. We worry about over-feeding, under-feeding, being too routine, being too flexible. To breastfeed or to bottlefeed? Dummy (sorry, the more pc ‘soother’) or not? But really, this is just the beginning of a lifetime of questioning what we are doing and how we shape up as parents. Deciding whether to go back to work or not is one of the hardest decisions for mothers in particular and can provoke a great deal of guilt. Many mothers enjoy work, many need to work for financial reasons, and many recognise that in order to still have a career when their child goes to school, they need to continue working after maternity leave.
The mass of media findings on the subject don’t really make it much easier, as for every article that is ‘for’ there is an ‘against’. I recently read this interesting article from an American study that claims that a mother returning to work doesn’t adversely affect a baby; http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/aug/01/babies-dont-suffer-working-mothers?dm_i=2MN,7KPX,5SBSA,J2UE,1
From a personal perspective, I welcome such research, if only as it counter-balances the enormous amount of negative press there is about working mums. However, I do remember being told that when it comes to parenting it’s all about being ‘good enough’. The Americans might say ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’, but all we can all do is be the best at the job we can. Fortunately it is a hugely rewarding, very entertaining and generally unbelievable job, so let’s make the most of it and not take too much notice of what other people think.