May 30, 2012

daycare, guilt & getting over it

When we originally decided to get preggers with baby number two, we planned to switch Jane from full-time daycare to part-time when I was off on mat leave. Two reasons - mainly, $$$, secondly, guilt? Thinking about being home with the baby, I felt like I should also allow Jane to have some time with me as well.

Well. We changed our minds. We saved our money and I know it'll be worth every penny.

We're keeping Jane in daycare full-time while I'm off on mat-leave and the more I discuss it with other moms, other new moms of two (or more) and the more I think about it, the more I know (FOR US) it's the right thing for everybody.

I visited a girlfriend yesterday who's second little man is three weeks old. First of all, and this is a telling story (that anyone with one child can relate to, let alone two), I get to the front door and there's a note on it "Jen, come on in!". It was like WAKE-UP-CALL. I forgot about the days where, because of nursing, I couldn't get the door, answer the phone, pee on demand (see To Pee or Not To Pee). Sure enough, I find my friend on the couch, nursing her new sweetie pie. The house is calm. The music is soft and low. The house is exactly how I had my house when Jane was first born... quiet, soothing, warm, fantastic. So my first question is... where's her older son (who's 2 and a half). Daycare. She tells me he's staying in full-time. HALLELUJAH. It was like all my questions answered and, I think, a relief for both of us to agree that, for our families, it's the best thing. I looked around, while she nursed, and thought... hmmmm.... if her son was here, he'd be freakin' BORED OUT OF HIS MIND and, likely, watching TV or playing with the computer or, basically, having to keep himself busy/occupied right now because Mommy had other things to do... which, we all know, often leads to one of two things: a tantrum at the most inopportune time or severe-mommy-guilt, or... both.

Here's the thing. Jane LOVES daycare. Are there days where she clings to me and doesn't want me to leave... yeah. She also tells me she's "sick" like every night before bed... tonight her "foot was sick" because she wants to stay awake and have time with me (master manipulators I tell ya). But, every day, no fail, it takes me 5-10 minutes to get her to leave because she wants to play more. And, y'all have already heard my thoughts on how great daycare is for Jane so to think about her sitting around the house, having to occupy herself all the time (especially during those first few, unpredictable, exhausting weeks), would kill me. Jane's very independent. But there's a difference between independence and not being able to be there and be present for her. So, there's the first argument FOR full-time daycare for us... Jane loves it and it's SO GOOD for her. Side thought: Sometimes people feel guilt because, essentially daycare plays a significant role in "raising" your child. Here's the thing. I'm OK with that. I'm OK with someone else influencing my child and impacting who she will become because here's a nearly unbelievable thought... I ain't perfect. :p I don't want Jane to be just like me. I annoy myself at times. I have weaknesses... and even some of my strengths, I don't wish on her sometimes!

Second argument. It's good for me. Anyone who's had a baby knows that it's tiring and all completely out of your control. So, basically, the same as having a toddler sometimes. :p Mostly during those first few 6-8 weeks (or 6 months if you're being really honest), life is a big beautiful blur. I am planning, especially during this time, to keep things routine for Jane and keep her trucking along to "school" with daddy every day... so that I can focus on getting myself and baby up-to-snuff again.

I'm thinking, after the first 6-8 weeks, I will probably keep Jane home from school here and there... maybe once or twice a week. We'll probably get her enrolled in gymnastics or something. But, here's the benefit of keeping her in full-time, I can plan which days to keep her home based on what's makes the most sense that week. For example, keeping her home from school the day after baby and I have been up all night teething... maybe not the best idea for anyone. :p

Here's what bugs me... judgement. ARGH, you know how much I hate judgement. We all do it, yes (it's human nature), but SERIOUSLY people, you don't need to be an oscar-winning-actress, but can't you try a little HARDER not to be such an ass! How many times in this post did I say "for us", "for our family", "for her" or "for Jane". Why do I do that? Because I know families who take their kids out of daycare altogether and, you know what, they love it and it works for them. I don't care what ya do! And, I know not everyone has the ability ($$) to keep their kids in daycare full-time while they are off work... for us, it was always in the plan to at least keep Jane in part-time, and we've saved and worked our arses off to be able to do so. So, don't dare judge me for that! But, what I've heard from some of the moms who've kept their kids in school, part or full time, is that some other mommas are givin' 'um the guilt trip. Give. Me. A. Break. People.

I've often said that working makes ME a better mom. When I pick Jane up from school at the end of the day and on our special, precious weekends, I love every minute. I am present every minute. I value every minute. If I was home with two kids full-time, seven days a week, as much as I love the heck out of those kids, I'd be counting the minutes until naptime and bedtime on a regular basis. I know this because after 4-5 days straight of Christmas vacation, I start doing it. It's A LOT. Stay at home moms know this. This is WHY I could not be a stay at home mom. It's too hard! :p

I know that keeping Jane in daycare full-time means that when she is home, I will not feel one bit guilty about focusing 100% of my attention on her during that time and letting daddy handle the baby-stuff. And, to me, that is worth so much more to her than the amount of time she gets... the ol' quality over quantity. So, don't be coming to me with any guilt trip crap, cause it ain't gonna fly and I ain't gonna feel guilty over doing what I know is best for all members of MY family.

I'm not writing this post to give you advice or to tell you what I think is the best thing to do. I'm writing to tell you what I'm doing and why I'm doing it with the hope of one of two outcomes... (1) you'll feel guilt-free about your decision to do the same or (2) you'll understand a different point of view, if you've decided to do differently. :)

This is a judgement-free zone people. Unless your Beyonce. I hate her. I judge her... who the hell puts out an hour long video all about themselves and how great they are because they lost their baby weight in time for their first concert. ARGH! Yes. If I had nannies to take care of my baby twenty hours a day so that I could train 35 hours a day, I'd probably have lost the baby weight quicker too. Grrrr Beyonce. You drive me nuts with your "I'm just like you" crap. If you're gonna judge people, judge people you'll never be face-to-face with... use your judgement quota on them like I do. :)


nf said...

HI Jen,

It's great to see you back. I read your blog when I was at home with my first daughter (July 2009), and now am home again with my second, and just stumbled upon your blog today!

I panicked about the exact same sentiments when I was pregnant. How in the world was I going to handle both girls at home? The first few weeks (okay months!!? were tricky, and I needed Ava to go to daycare We kept her in part-time, but now that Piper is almost 5 months old it is A LOT easier! We found that Ava, although always enjoyed going to school, now sees it as an opportunity to go and play with her friends, she gets picked up early, and it is something to look forward to.

As you said, do what works for you - give yourself some time to adjust to a family of four and enjoy the baby cuddles!!!


Angelene said...

Agreed. I think you are right that once you and baby settle in after that 6-8 week period you may want to have Jane home a few days a week, and perhaps take them both out together to things you can all enjoy. I know for us it was so hard those first few months juggling the two of them, and there were a few days I brought her to the sitter's because I just needed to lay on the couch and pass out. Once Matthew was around 6 months and could sit and play on his own for a bit things FINALLY became a bit "normal" around here. Who is giving you the nasty judge face? Do what works for the Ellenbergers and forget about them.