When I consult on cases in which a caregiver is experiencing postpartum depression, I frequently find myself advocating for the parents to seek out quality and reliable child care for some part of the week. The goal in this recommendation is so that the parents can give themselves time to recover, participate in treatment, or do other inner-strength building activities while they ensure that the child is in a stimulating and enriching environment.
A new research report verifies that group care can be protective against long term effects of exposure to postpartum depression in young children. (Health News – Group-based child care is linked to reduced emotional problems in preschool children of depressed mothers.)
If this solution is an option for you, then here are a few key principles to keep in mind as you seek out this solution:
A – seek out a child care environment that is sensitive and developmentally appropriate. You don’t want your solution to cause you more problems by ending up with an inconsistent or problematic caregiver, which will only require you to interrupt the care by looking for another provider, or feel like the solution failed.
B – use a consistent child care schedule, even if it is only one, two or three days a week. This helps everyone in the family adjust to the routine and eventually helps the infant or young child develop a sense of mastery and security in the situation.
C – watch for self-criticism. Parents often feel they are inadequate or ‘less than’ if they can’t parent their child 100% of the time. This criticism will only set you back in your recovery. Most wise societies recognize that caregiving is a big job that requires a team of people (It takes a village). You are invoking your need for a team of other supports out of wisdom that this is necessary to your health and recovery.
D – keep it up. After you begin to feel like yourself, consider maintaining the childcare arrangement so that you can continue to act on this ideal of self care and balance. Whether the childcare allows you to work, visit with friends, or exercise, all of this is essential to your overall balance as a parent. Of course financial realities may not allow for this. If that is the case, you might consider a babysitting co-op, the local YMCA child watch, or something else that allows you breaks.
No one should enter the biggest job of their life feeling worn down and depleted. Parenting is no different. You deserve the support.