I just returned to work last week after 18 months off with my son.

The good news, is that we did a long transition into his home daycare which he now is comfortable in and is enjoying learning and playing with other children his age (yay!)

The bad news is, is that by the third or fourth day of daycare he has started constant whining and daily tantrums (rolling around on the floor crying and kicking) for seemingly "no reason" when he is at home with me in the mornings and evenings-- but I am aware that the obvious reason behind this behaviour is that he's letting me know he's angry at me for the change in routine and not being with him every day :(

Luckily, he does not whine at daycare (but rather, enjoys himself) and has not changed how he is with his father.

But I want my baby back!! Does anyone have any experience with this? How long will he be mad at me for going back to work? What can I do to make him get over this faster?

I only have a bit of time in the morning with him and 4 hours in the evening- I want it to be fun again!

asked 10 Feb '11, 14:25

DazedandConfused's gravatar image

accept rate: 13%

edited 10 Feb '11, 14:26

For what it's worth, we've noticed a similar situation between our oldest daughter and Tammy. It doesn't seem as severe as what you're describing, but our daughter absolutely acts more like a suck when Tammy is around, but when she's alone with me, or at daycare, she's happy and involved.

From observation, I think it's a case of Mom's buttons being easier to push. When baby whines, Mom feels sorry (but Dad, on the other hand, acts ambivalent).

When you say, "that he's letting me know he's angry at me for the change in routine and not being with him every day", it sounds like you feel guilty. I don't see any reason why you should feel guilty. Many mothers return to work after much less time than you, and you've made sure he's well taken care of, etc..

If I were in your situation, I'd probably agree that he wants your attention, but I'd make a point of giving him attention when he wasn't being whiny. I can't control how someone else feels (even a child) but I can create appropriate consequences when they act out on those feelings. Perhaps ask him to help you do a household task (a form of redirection that diverts the whiny behaviour), and then sit down afterwards and give him attention when he's being good.

Then again, I've had many such plans backfire... so no guarantees! :)


answered 10 Feb '11, 15:19

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Scott ♦♦
accept rate: 10%


I was about to answer this and you beat me to you. I would like to add that our daughter does have more tantrums and whiny behaviour during big transitions like going back to daycare after a break, sharing our attention with a new baby, daddy going back to work after a couple of weeks off etc... I find the most effective response is as Scott says don't pay attention to him when he's whiny and having a tantrum (just make sure he's safe) and give him special attention and praise when he's being good. Redirection also works great, our daughter loves to help around the house.

(10 Feb '11, 15:43) Tammy ♦♦

Great answer and comment Tammy & Scott, I agree totally.

(11 Feb '11, 01:15) Emi

I notice that you say you only have a bit of time with him and you want it to be fun again. Is it possible that you and he are both tired after your day apart? I know that when I'm tired I handle my kids' behavior less well and it tends to become a vicious cycle. Are you trying to cook and do all the jobs you would have managed to do during the day in that short period of time just after you both get home? I wonder if you could make it easier for yourself perhaps by cooking meals in bulk and freezing? Cutting back on cleaning and other household jobs (if no-one's in the house all day how dirty can it get?) and so on. And that way the time you have with him in the evenings can be more relaxed and fun. Just a few thoughts, and like Scott says, no guarantees.


answered 17 Feb '11, 15:46

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Meg Stephenson
accept rate: 7%

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Asked: 10 Feb '11, 14:25

Seen: 4,056 times

Last updated: 17 Feb '11, 15:46