8 Ways to Help a New Nursing Mom Return to Work

By Marcia Hall
With Yael Stein of La Leche League of Milwaukee, Wisconsin

It can be very difficult for a new mom to return to work when her maternity leave is over, and there is a great mix of emotions that accompany this transition.  On one hand, she might be enthusiastic about returning to a job that she loves and excited to be able to get out of the house again.  On the other hand, however, she almost always feels guilty about leaving her child with anyone, even if it is someone that she trusts emphatically.

There is a maternal instinct that kicks in and cannot be denied.  This guilt is compounded when she is making choices about feeding and breast milk.  It can often be very difficult for a mom to continue to offer breast milk when she goes back to work.  Caregivers that are helping to support her can make it easier for mom to make the choice to continue to nurse and offer breast milk to her baby.

If you are a caregiver and find yourself in this situation, you can:

Learn the benefits of extended use of breast milk and how it is different than formula.  Though formula has come a long way in the last 40 years, there is nothing that can compare to the benefits of breast milk. It has antibodies that aid in fighting off infections and increase the effectiveness of the baby’s immune system. It can help protect against allergies and asthma.  It has positive effects on obesity and diabetes later in life.  Children often have issues with digestion of formula, but this is not the case with breast milk.  It has natural vitamins and minerals that all babies need to grow healthy.  And it is free.


Research the storage guidelines of breast milk.  All the beneficial minerals, vitamins and antibodies are more effective when it is pumped, stored and re-heated properly.  Caregivers should learn and discuss these guidelines with the mom so that she knows the person caring for her precious baby understands the extra work that will go into supporting her nursing efforts.


Suggest that the hours of work are extended a bit so that when mom gets home from work she can focus on the baby for a short time.  If there are older siblings, caregivers can offer to have a special project to keep them occupied for 20 minutes at this time of day.  If this is mom’s first baby, offer to get dinner started during this time.

Offer to bring baby to the workplace during the day for feeding.  The invention of the breast pump was great and it works for a lot of working mothers.  However, there can be some challenges to using it as well.  They can be difficult to transport and it can be hard to find ways to store the milk.  If a mom works a particularly long day, this drastically cuts down on the time she is able to bond with her child.  For some women, continuous pumping begins to reduce breast milk production.  By offering to bring the baby to her work place at least once during the day, both baby and mom can continue to build that bond and simultaneously reduce the need for pumping and storage.

Avoid feeding the baby within two hours of mom returning home so that baby is very hungry and ready to be nursed right away, because it is almost certain that mom will be ready.  This can be done if a good feeding and pumping schedule is worked out.  By working in cooperation with mom, caregivers can try to feed the baby at the same or close to the same time mom is pumping.  That way the babies schedule roughly coincides with the schedule of mom’s milk production so that the days that mom is home with baby, they are still on the same basic schedule.

Find alternative ways to soothe baby without a bottle.  When it is close to the time mom is going to come home or if mom is running a little late, it can be tempting to feed the baby, especially when he is really fussy.  Instead, use a pacifier, hold the baby, rock him, play with him, and distract him.  Do whatever you can to keep his attention off of feeding, because the moment mom walks in the door she is going to need to nurse.  It could be devastating for mom to come home with the intention of cuddling with and nursing a very hungry baby, only to find out that he was just fed.

Ask the mom if you can wear the baby in a sling or a wrap.  Breastfed babies are used to being held and comforted in their mother’s arms.  This is another way that caregivers can soothe a baby instead of using a bottle.  This might make some nursing moms uncomfortable, but if you explain the intention is to help soothe and remind the baby of his mommy and that it could never undermine the bond that she is forming with her child, she might not only understand it, but also be very excited about it.  Caregivers can offer to do extra research in safe baby wearing practices and find the best option for the needs of the house.  Mom and dad might also end up enjoying this form of connection.

Be flexible with the introduction of mom’s working schedule in early weeks. This is a very difficult transition.  Remember that mom most likely does not really want to be away from her baby for an extended period of time. Emotions will be high, so the more willing the babies caregiver is to work with her needs and desires, the more comfortable she will be with leaving her baby.   Encourage mom to return to work gradually to help ease everyone into a good schedule for nursing and pumping.

10 Things to Do With Kids in Fort Worth, Texas

Considered the cultural gateway into the American West and sprawling over almost three hundred square miles, Fort Worth is a surprisingly impressive family vacation destination. With scores of museums, art galleries and recreational options to choose from, you’re sure to find something to suit every member of your family in the Fort Worth area. These ten attractions are ideally suited to visiting with the younger members of your household, who will find more than enough to keep them engaged and entertained while you’re away from home.

  1. Trinity Park (Fort Worth, TX 76107) – One of the best playgrounds in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, according to ParentsConnect.com, Trinity park wanders through cultural districts and downtown with paved multi-use paths, a scattering of playgrounds, picnic areas, restrooms and shelters along the trails. Be sure to check out the Shakespeare in the Park program if you’re visiting Fort Worth during the summer months, or Mayfest in the spring.
  2. Department of the Treasury Bureau of Engraving and Printing (Fort Worth, TX 76131) – Kids can learn how money is made at the Department of the Treasury, and interesting lesson in today’s debit-card economy. The forty-five minute tour is guided, and admission is free, with plenty of exhibits and installations displaying the history of paper currency and how it’s created.
  3. Fort Worth Zoo (Fort Worth, TX 76110) – The pathways at the Fort Worth Zoo are largely shaded and easy to navigate, with plenty of exciting exhibits and habitats along the way. If possible, arrange your trip so that you can take advantage of their half-price admission program on Wednesdays throughout the year.
  4. Fort Worth Museum of Science and History (Fort Worth, TX 76107) – Dig for dinosaur bones, wander through a specially-designed Children’s Museum exhibit aimed at kids under the age of eight, catch a film in the IMAX theater or a show at the Noble Planetarium, all on one inclusive campus. There’s plenty to excite and entertain visitors of all ages at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, meaning that adults and teenagers aren’t forced to suffer through an experience aimed solely at little ones.
  5. Cowtown Cattlepen Maze (Fort Worth, TX 76106) – More than five thousand, four hundred square feet of ever-changing wooden pathways designed to mimic the motif of the Old West, the Cowtown Cattlepen Maze will keep your kids challenged and excited. Race the clock or each other, maybe winning a prize along the way. Don’t forget to stop by the observation deck before starting out, to strategize and plan a navigation plan.
  6. Burger’s Lake (Fort Worth, TX 76114) – A spring-fed lake perfect for swimming and cooling off during Texas summers sprawls over an entire acre of this thirty-acre park, with six diving boards, a twenty-five-foot trapeze, a massive slide and inner tubes for lakeside fun. Those that aren’t fond of the water can test their skills on the volleyball park, and take advantage of a picnic table for a lunch break, of which there are more than three hundred.
  7. National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame (Fort Worth, TX 76107) – Girls are sure to be thrilled with a museum dedicated to the efforts and accomplishments of women in the Old West, as well as the chance to hop on a green-screened simulated bronc ride that puts them right in the middle of their own old western film. Little ones under the age of six will also love the Connie Reeves Discovery Corral, which provides plenty of age-appropriate.
  8. American Airlines CR Smith Museum (Fort Worth, TX 76155) – Commercial aviation is the star of the show at the American Airlines CR Smith Museum, which features plenty of hands-on activities and a flight simulator to help kids and adults alike understand and appreciate the wonder of commercial air travel. If you’re in the Fort Worth area for an extended period during the summer months, you may also be interested in looking into the Eagle Aviation Academy, a week-long program for kids in fifth through eight grade to learn more about aviation.
  9. Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth, TX 76107) – Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful examples of modern architecture, housing one of the best art collection in the world, the Kimbell Museum is a destination not to be missed if you have any interest in instilling an appreciation for the arts in your children. Keep in mind that even though the Kimbell is considered a family-friendly attraction, strollers are not permitted in the galleries during peak times.
  10. The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (Fort Worth, TX 76107) – As the oldest art museum in the state of Texas and one of the oldest in the entire Western region of the United States, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth is a great stop for families due to their specialized art programs for kids. The first Sunday of each month is a free-admission day, which can be helpful if your vacation is beginning to run a bit over-budget.

Hotwire.com placed Fort Worth at number four on their “Value friendly destinations” list, making it an ideal choice for family vacations where the budget is a concern. The unique atmosphere of the city will allow your family to explore everything from ranch life to refined museums and galleries, leaving you with a well-balanced and inclusive vacation experience. A thriving downtown area and blossoming culinary scene will also provide the adults in the family with plenty of grown-up diversions after the kids are in bed.

4 Signs of Kindergarten Readiness

By Marcia Hall

While many parents want their children to follow the accepted schedule for development, kids tend to progress at their own rate. This means that their developmental rate doesn’t always match up with what is the conventional timeframe.   One child may be speaking in full and fluid sentences before she is two while another child does not have much to say until after three.  There is nothing wrong with either of those situations.  However, parents typically want their children to be ready for the challenges that school will bring.  There may be a number of standards your desired school requires for each child entering Kindergarten, but there are other criteria that are equally important for your child to achieve before she hits this big milestone.

Socially speaking, no five year old is going to get along well with everyone; even adults are unable to master that.  However, entering Kindergarten means that your child is going to need to have a basic ability to get along with others under normal circumstances.

Your child should:

  • Be able to engage and play with other children more than just playing alongside them.
  • Be able to respond to questions from other children.
  • Not be terrified when a person she is unfamiliar with talks to her, whether they are an adult or another child.
  • Be open-minded of other children, meaning that she has met and been around people that look and sound unlike her.

Physically speaking, most parents know that in order to enter Kindergarten their child needs to be potty trained, but the need for physical development goes beyond this.

Your child should:

  • Have the ability to sit still for at least the length of time it takes to read a picture book.
  • Have the ability to sit in his chair to eat his lunch by himself.
  • Be fully potty trained during waking hours and be able to wait a few minutes before using the toilet in case he has to wait his turn.
  • Be able to stay awake and alert for the time he is in school.
  • Be able to walk, run and throw a ball, though he does not have to do these well.

Emotionally speaking, children are learning to understand and communicate their emotions. Emotional readiness will give your child a good foundation for learning in Kindergarten.

Your child should:

  • Be able to be separated from you for the full time she is at school.
  • Be able to communicate what her needs are to someone, even if she does not know them.
  • Have an excitement to explore her world and learn new things.
  • Be able to ask questions concerning things she is unsure of or is curious about.
  • Be able to consider new ideas freely and creatively.

Mentally speaking, there are basic benchmarks the school you choose will most likely evaluate your child on.

Your child should:

  • Be able to hold a pencil and scissors correctly and use them appropriately.
  • Know what his name looks like and some of the letters of the alphabet by sight.
  • Know all his colors and shapes
  • Be able to count to 10 and recognize some of the numbers by sight.
  • Be able to match similar objects and understand why an object is different from another one.
  • Be able to do simple puzzles and understand how things fit together.
  • Be able to answer questions about his surroundings (Is that chair near or far, what color is that table cloth, etc.).

Many parents today push their children to be ready for Kindergarten.  They often think that a child should be reading, writing and doing math before they even enter the building.  However, Kindergarten is the place your child will learn to do those things.  It is more important to give your child the foundations of achievement in the form of social, physical, emotional and mental readiness.  With these foundations, your child will be on the right track to succeed in school for years to come.

Is a Nanny Share Right For You?

In a typical nanny share, two families share one nanny and split the cost of her compensation package. The nanny cares for the children of both families together or splits her time between the two households. A nanny who works part-time for two or more families is not part of a nanny share; she’s simply working multiple part-time gigs. The common factor in a nanny share is that the employers come together to determine the terms of employment and share the cost of employing the nanny. A nanny share usually costs 20 to 25% less than a standard nanny arrangement.

Sharing a nanny with another family is a great way to save money on high quality in-home childcare. However not every family is a good match for a nanny share. Consider the questions below when thinking about using this option for your family.

Do you live in an area where you can find a family to share a nanny with? Finding the right family to share a nanny with isn’t always easy. You have to find a family that lives fairly close to you, has a compatible parenting style to yours, and that you like on a personal level. If you live in an area where there are few families similar to yours, finding a compatible family can prove to be more difficult than finding the nanny.

Are you a team player? Nanny shares can get complicated. There are two sets of parents and one nanny in the relationship. It’s important that everyone involved is committed to being flexible, respectful of others’ needs, willing to talk about any issues that come up, and open to creative solutions. When one side of the relationship has a problem it will affect the whole relationship, so it’s essential that everyone be on board with keeping things running smoothly.

Are you comfortable with your nanny’s attention being divided? One of the reasons many parents choose nanny care is that they want one-on-one attention for their child. In a nanny share, your child will still receive great care, but the nanny will not be able to focus on your child exclusively. For some parents, that’s not a problem. Others don’t like the idea that their child’s needs might not be immediately met. Be honest with yourself about your comfort level with this limitation before making a decision on the type of care you want.

Are you willing to compromise on what your nanny can do around the house? A nanny who works for you exclusively usually takes on many child-related tasks on top of providing hands-on care. She may do your child’s laundry, keep the kids’ areas of the house organized and tidy, and rotate seasonal clothes. She often will take on other household tasks as well, like grocery shopping or running errands.

In a nanny share, your nanny won’t have the time to provide that kind of household support. Since most nanny shares are for infants or younger children, your nanny will have her hands full with two or three children who are close in age. Add in laundry and other tasks for two households and it quickly becomes too much, even for the most dedicated caregiver. Before you choose a nanny share, think about what your household needs are and decide what jobs you’re willing to take on.

Are you flexible about your child’s environment? Everything will not always be exactly as you want it in a nanny share. Even when you do a great job of picking another family and nanny, compromise will be necessary. You may want your child to be put down for her nap at 1:30 every afternoon, but if the other child is teething and needs extra attention, your child might not go down until 2. You may want your child to only have non-battery operated toys, but if the other child gets a new Leap Frog toy for his birthday, there’s a good chance your child will be playing with it too. If you want your child to take swimming lessons but the other family feels their child isn’t ready for lessons yet, you might have to wait or take them on the weekend. If the other family wants to get a new dog but you think dogs and kids are a bad mix, you might not be happy with the new addition to the family. Make sure to think about how much control you need to have over your child’s everyday environment when considering if a nanny share will work for you.

A nanny share can be the perfect way to get high quality in-home care that you can afford. But a nanny share isn’t the right solution for every family. Carefully consider how well a nanny share will fit your family’s unique needs before moving forward.