Returning to work after having a baby can be a complicated subject with lots of different emotions, especially when you just had three babies!
Some moms prefer to wait until their triplets begin preschool or kindergarten, while others decide sooner is better. It’s totally up to you. In this article, we will discuss key aspects of this big decision to help you think through it, whether you are pregnant or already home with your triplets.
Considerations for Mom
If you are pregnant and haven’t already, talk to your employer about their maternity leave benefits (and your partner should ask his employer about any paternity leave benefits they may have). The amount of paid/unpaid leave you have available may be an important factor in the time you decide to take off. Check the details of the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to know your rights regarding maternity/paternity leave.
Take into account how much you will earn versus how much child care for your triplets will cost. In many cases it may not be enough income to cover the cost of child care. In other cases, the gain in income is not enough to justify the time and energy away from your family. There is also considerable planning and effort to set up your children in child care, especially if you are pumping breastmilk for (three!) young babies.
Here are some other considerations:
- If you are receiving government assistance, would it change if your household income changed?
- Would you need a second car if you only have one?
- How would you and your partner handle illness if your children have to stay home or be picked up early?
- How will you and your partner divide the household duties, whether you are working or not?
- Would you lose other benefits, such as retirement benefits, if choose not to return to work for an extended period?
- Would your partner be willing to switch roles and stay home if your income is higher?
- Is there a possibility of working part-time?
Whether you stay home or return to work, think about which family members or friends you might be able to rely on whenever you need help. Talk to them about it to gauge their comfortability with watching one, two, or all three of your children for a few hours here and there.
Either way, you may have unpleasant feelings regarding your decision. If you choose to stay home, you might feel excluded from the “grown-up” world and overwhelmed by the household and childcare duties at times. Depending on your personality, it may be easier or harder to manage a routine when you are a stay-at-home-mom.
If you choose to return to work, be prepared for feelings or guilt, uncertainty, or anxiety about leaving your children behind. In the early days and weeks, it can be heartbreaking to leave them, especially when they seem heartbroken as well. Conversely, if you start to enjoy working and having adult conversations on a regular basis, that’s totally okay too!
Whatever you decide, try not to be hard on yourself or set your expectations too high. And remember, you can probably change your mind if it’s not working for you. Keep communication open with your partner to keep things running smoothly.
Considerations for Your Triplets
For children who are too young for preschool, there are three basic types of child care options:
1. Center-based child care programs (daycares, nursery schools, etc.)
- These programs typically follow a curriculum and are run similar to a school. They might be more or less expensive, depending on your area and preferences. Some families prefer certain styles, such as Montessori, Reggio-Emilia, Waldorf etc.
- Research and tour child care centers early (even while you are pregnant!) in order to reserve a three spots for your children.
- Child care centers typically won’t be able to care for any ill children, and may have specific procedures for early/late arrivals or dismissals. Ask them about their illness/attendance policies when you are touring.
- Some centers run on the local school district’s calendar and follow the winter and summer break schedules. You may have to make other child care arrangements for days when there is no school.
- Centers have the benefit of allowing your children to socialize with more children and get used to a school-like atmosphere.
2. Family Child Care (FCC) homes
- These homes are licensed by your state and typically enroll less children than a child care center. They may be run by one or just a few child care providers in their home. Some families prefer the hominess and relaxed nature of this type of care.
- They may be more flexible regarding illness, early/late arrivals, or dismissals. They may not be following any specific type of curriculum, but your children may receive more individual attention.
- It may be less expensive, depending on your area and preferences.
- Talk to them about the procedure for when the provider is ill or on vacation.
3. Private nannies, babysitters, or family/friends
- Private nannies, babysitters, or family/friends are probably the most flexible of all the child care options, which can be a plus for a unique situation like a triplets family. However, they may be expensive.
- Nannies/babysitters have the benefit of developing a special bond with your children. Many nannies/babysitters can take your children on outings to the park or to their extracurricular activities if you don’t mind them driving with your children.
- Remember that you will need a backup plan if your nanny is sick or needs a day off.
Babies younger than one will need pumped breastmilk or formula and baby food (if they are over 6 months and have started eating already). Older babies and children will probably need a packed lunch, unless you have a private babysitter in your home who is able to cook. Some centers provide lunch as a part of the tuition, so be sure to ask about their lunch procedure.
If your children have special needs, make sure to plan accordingly with whichever child care option you choose. Remember that the more children they are exposed to, the higher the chance of becoming ill, no matter how clean the facility may be.
Last but certainly not least, think about the personalities and needs of your children in terms of where they are most likely to thrive.
No matter what you and your partner decide on, be confident in your decision and recognize that it is temporary until they are old enough for preschool or kindergarten. As always, maintain an open relationship with your partner in order to make the best decision for your family and keep life running more smoothly.