Work and child - Is career an assassin of our child?

Phone. With an agile sweep she puts little Femke over her shoulder for a peasant, and fishes the Nokia from her bag with her free hand.
'Hi. Yes, no ... I'm coming. Powerpoint did it again yesterday and I have put everything else ready. No, wait ... I do. When I have brought Max to school I drive that way. I still have some play before I have to bring Femke to the nursery and then I stop at that advertising agency. '

"How many brochures are ready? Okay, yes ... you'll see me like that. "
With a sigh, she throws her phone aside. She is crazy about all the arrangements and this week Paul had to go to Milan - she could have used some support at home!
Maaamaaa, 'Max screams impatiently from the bathroom. "I've pooped!"

She runs upstairs, wipes his buttocks and does his clothes well again. Quickly she looks at her watch: 8.25 am, in 5 minutes Max must be at school. Just then she feels a warm wave of fluid in her neck: Femke has spit on her new tip.
"Oh, no, not now!"
She dresses quickly and flies down again. She puts Max on his coat - he works with me for a change - picks Femke out of the box and also puts her a jacket on.
With her two children under her arm, four different bags and a sandwich with peanut butter, she runs out the door. Femke sputters when she is tied up in the MaxiCosy; the little one fights the sleep but as soon as she gets her fopje, she happily drops away. Now Max is still safe in his seat; she gives him his sandwich on the way - ready. She starts and drives out of the garage.
Shit! Forgotten a laptop ... She runs back inside, picks up her laptop and quickly runs out again. If she is halfway along the path, she thinks that she still has to lock the door ...
Panting, she comes back to the car. Femke now sleeps quietly and on the way Max chants the ears of the head. When she has dropped him off at school, the peace in the car is a relief. She drives on to the advertising agency and rehearses in her mind the different parts of the presentation: it just has to be a stunner!
She drives to the office on her autopilot.

Femke sleeps ...

Baby forgotten is shocked! Several times we already read press reports stating that a baby was found dead in a car. Recently we read again such a message ... All these babies died from overheating and dehydration; their mother or father had forgotten them ...
In America there are more cases known, but it also occurs in the Netherlands. Yet the Public Prosecution Service speaks of extreme incidents, which must be seen as an exception. But it does make you think ...
To forget your baby is an anxiety scenario where every brand new parent has nightmares. Can something like that happen to you? Given the regularity in which it takes place, it seems. The parents who happened to him probably also thought: "Nothing would ever happen to me like that! How can someone forget his child? Unthinkable!'

Forgotten children in America

In America there are several cases known (about 40 per year!) And in the Oprah Winfrey Show a father speaks frankly about the suffocation death of his baby son, after he had forgotten to bring him to the shelter on a busy day. This baby too was locked up in a car for a whole day ...

Mother instinct

In nature, no animal will leave its child unprotected. Mother and child are permanently together. In monkeys, you see that very strongly: a baby monkey constantly clings to his mother's coat and she carries it on her back for almost three years - this is pure instinct. People are descended from the apes: the primates, a group of very devoted parents. Naturally, our behavior should be protective and instinctive.
In biology and psychology there is a lot of discussion about the so-called maternal instinct. Feminism also likes to interfere in this discussion. The question is: do people have a maternal instinct or do we distinguish ourselves from them in animals - have we been taken out of our natural context so that caring for our offspring is no longer automatic? The answer is tentative: yes and no. Yes, instincts are innate behavior and are hereditary, so also the mother instinct - men and women can also have an equally strong maternal instinct. No, we do not distinguish ourselves from animals.
How can it happen that a mother forgets her child?

Loss of the role patterns of men and women

For centuries, the role patterns of men and women were steady: he supplied food and offered protection to his family, they took care of the house and the fireplace. The maternal instinct was then still deep and the care issues went naturally. But there is a new era in which things have changed a lot.
Partly thanks to the industrial revolution, far-reaching technological developments and the emancipation of women - good things by the way - men and women have been separated from those ancient patterns. We are no longer stuck to food, provide protection and care for the offspring, but we go study, work, make a career, make money - a lot of money! Instead of growing corn and baking bread, we now drive our station wagon to Appie Hein for a fresh baguette ...

Work and child - Pressure, pressure, pressure

Although the horrendous incidents with the babies in Halle (2007), Baarle Nassau (2007), Kessel-Lo (2009) are extreme examples, it is not inconceivable that mothers today 'forget' their children.
Working parents have a busy schedule of work, school, childcare, sports and play arrangements. We bring our children to pre-school and after-school care, the nursery, the babysitter or we have our care days at home.
The more members a family counts, the more complex the whole. Just look at Daniëlle, working mother with three children aged 10, 8 and 2 years: 'Bas goes directly from the after school to the football field where he has to train from five o'clock to a quarter to six. Marleen comes home by half past five of recorder lessons on her bike and she has to go back to gymnastics at six o'clock. Today I try to eat early, but Henk comes home late from a meeting. Normally he gets Jesper from the nursery, but I have to do that now. I would easily forget ... "
Busy busy busy. Working and combining a family requires a lot of dexterity, a well-coordinated agenda and much consultation with the other party. That an appointment or arrangement is forgotten in all haste and rush is very logical. But forgetting your child is something else ...

Automatic pilot

Fortunately there is no profile of mothers who are more at risk of forgetting or neglecting their child than others. There can, however, be a clear cause, for example: a postnatal depression, medication use, lability or a mental illness.
A much more logical explanation for forgetting your child, and thus a risk for all mothers, is that women today have to do too quickly, too much, too hastily.
We can do ten things at once ... that is a fact - to the great annoyance of men! We work with fixed patterns, rhythms and routines. In some cases, where you do not have to do ten or twenty things at a time, your brain switches to your autopilot: you are suddenly home while you can not consciously remember to have taken the right street. No point, you are safe, you are at home.
However, when there are major changes in your life - and having a child is a big change - then this requires conscious adaptation of your rhythm and routine.
If there is an unexpected disruption, it may be that the autopilot takes over spontaneously in its old mode. You could just forget your child ...


We are all modern women. We all want to work, make a career, earn money and especially 'have fun'. We all want a child too ...
But where is our priority: in our work or with our child? What is it about: a new Gucci handbag, a (still) larger car, a sun-drenched holiday ... or the safety of your child?
When we continue to run without thinking, accidents happen. Beatrijs Smulders argues for nothing more time and peace during that first important year of your baby, in which everything revolves around safe attachment. wants to give a warning: think carefully about the choices you make. Of course you will never forget your child, we know that too! But well, that's what that mother in Halle thought ...
And it can not be that our career becomes an assassin of our child!

Tips and advice

To prevent you from going wrong with the many actions that have to take place before you are finally at work - and also for the care and tasks outside - structure is the key word.
Structure gives you grip, structure is recognition and structure provides overview. Not only for you but also for your partner and children. You can apply structure by:

  • use fixed orders: first eat, then brush teeth, pee and coat
  • Schedule recurring activities at fixed times: Prepare bags and packed lunches
  • regular routes to take: Max to school, Jelle to childcare, baby Sem to babysitter
  • check, recheck, double check. Does your partner bring your child away? call him after an hour of how it went!
  • put your (hand) bag or suitcase in the back of the car next to your child, you are always obliged to look in the back seat
  • working with to-do lists or other recognizable reminders: dishcloth on the stairs means clearing the clothes dryer ...

After a big change, your autopilot needs to be reset. This happens unconsciously due to the wearing in of new patterns in your routine. You yourself can consciously:

  • a fixed working order at the departure of the house
  • do not take a phone just before you leave
  • do not do any work (pc, laptop, mail / telephone) before you leave
    to-do lists, post-its or other cat bubbles
  • create peace (in your head) does not judge. We believe that anyone can make mistakes. Recognition, advice and awareness are the first step in the right direction.

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