Magazine article Working Mother

Time for You, Baby

Magazine article Working Mother

Time for You, Baby

Article excerpt

Every working mom alive feels at least a little bit guilty when she returns to the workplace after maternity leave. We wonder: Are we doing the right thing? Will the baby suffer, either emotionally or cognitively? Fortunately, recent research is helping to ease those sorts of fears. A recent University of Texas study shows, for example, that a mother's employment status has no effect on her child's mental and social development during the first three years of life. The researchers found that it's the quality of mother-baby time, rather than the quantity, that matters most, as well as a sense of priority when it comes to spending time with your child.

Of course, you want to make the most of the time you do have with your baby. But how do you pull that off when you're tired and stressed after work, with dinner to prepare and maybe some laundry to wash? The answer, says Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, PhD, professor of psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia and coauthor of Einstein Never Used Flash Cards, is to let g your baby in on dinner, laundry-all the everyday action.

"A baby or toddler who hasn't seen you all day can get frustrated when you come home from work and she watches you head straight for the kitchen," says Dr. Hirsh-Pasek, a mom of three boys. So take her with you and cook together. If she can sit up and grab, she'll enjoy playing with wooden spoons, toy foods, a spatula and little plastic bowls. She just wants something to do-with you. Go ahead and let her bang on a pot. "The sound she makes is a lesson in physics and music," Dr. Hirsh-Pasek adds.

Laundry time is another opportunity for quality interaction. A 15-month-old can throw socks into a basket. And older toddlers can even help sort them. It will probably take a little longer to finish the wash this way, but remember that you're turning it into an interactive game that can build skills like sorting, recognizing colors and understanding quantity (Is the basket full or empty?). It can even help boost motor skills as your child runs to the basket or dumps the socks out and then puts them back in again. Yes, a baby can learn these skills with today's toys, but this way your child learns about real life as she plays with you-and you're getting at least some things done along the way.

Apply the same thinking to Saturday morning. You're exhausted and would love to sleep, so what to do when your baby toddles in, crying for your attention? …

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