It’s Thursday, so I’m Crafting my Life! This year, I’m just writing about whatever is currently on my mind. And if you would like to chime in and contribute a guest post about your own journey, please drop me a line and we’ll chat.
My son Jacob is starting daycare in a few days. He’ll be attending part-time, at the same childcare centre we sent Hannah to when she was his age. He’s been on the waiting list for a long time, and I think this is a good time for him to start. Although, as with any change, I do have mild trepidations about how it will go. Will Jacob hit the other kids? Will my non-napper be OK during nap time? Only time will tell, but on the whole I’m very happy that he’ll be in such excellent care.
There was a time when I would have raised an eyebrow at a mother sending her child to daycare when she’s not employed outside the home. My daughter Hannah started daycare as a one-year-old because I was returning to work, and it was very wrenching for me. I couldn’t imagine voluntarily subjecting myself and my child to that kind of separation. At the time, I had a very idyllic idea of what life would be like as a work-at-home parent.
And then, somewhere around the time that Hannah was the same age Jacob is now, something changed. She became more outgoing, and more content to accept care from people other than me. She made friends at daycare, and had the chance to gain experiences that she couldn’t have easily had at home. I also realized that if she wasn’t in daycare, she was at the age when I would likely have started her in preschool.
On top of that, I had the experience of working part-time from home (thanks to a flexible work arrangement) when Hannah was a toddler. I discovered that it’s not so easy to be productive while you’re also wrangling a two-year-old. Kids that age need a high level of supervision, and they’re not good at entertaining themselves. I started to understand why someone who was running a home-based business would use childcare. If you’re going to be productive, it really helps to have some kid-free time to do it in.
I tried hiring a nanny as a compromise position last fall. It allowed my kids to be at home, with each other, while I spent a few hours at the library getting work done. It worked well for a time, but then Wonder Nanny had a family emergency and ended up leaving the province for good with virtually no notice. I understand why she did what she did, and I wish her well. But I’ve seen first-hand how depending on a single person can leave you hanging when life happens. I’m hesitant to do that again.
And so, after six weeks without childcare, I’ll be the mom who spends the day at home while her kid goes to daycare part-time. (Side note: Why do I keep feeling the need to point out that it’s part time?) I think it’s the right choice for me. I have been neglecting some important projects, and I haven’t been able to take new things on. And Jacob is ready. He asks every morning if today is the day he can go to school. He knows the centre from taking Hannah there for the first two years of his life. And I trust that he’s in good hands, and that his experienced teachers can handle anything he throws their way.
When you have kids, your world changes. We all know this. You can’t just drop everything and go to the late movie or spend hours browsing a book store. And you can’t spend all day at your computer while also caring for your child. As parents, we all have to structure our own lives in a way that works for us. That includes how we balance work (inside or outside the home) and caring for our children. Whether you use daycare or not, whether you send your children to school or not, and no matter how old your child is, you are the only one who can assess how your situation is working for you. I’m just crossing my fingers that my new set-up will work for me. And if it doesn’t, I’m open to changing it.
I’d love to hear how you manage work – paid or unpaid, inside or outside the house – with caring for your children. Did you find that there are certain ages when it’s easier to work while your kids are around? How did you find the right care setting for you? And are you happy with how things worked out? Please share!
PS – Every month I do a monthly review of things I learned. Some are serious, some are funny, and all are hard-won. I will be running my June review on Sunday, July 3. If you want to play along, there will be a link-up, so write a post on or before the link-up date and come back here to include it.