When I went back to work six weeks after having my son (Thanks, America, for the amazing maternity and paternity leave you provide to your hardworking taxpayers!), his daytime care was divided between his daddy and an in-house sitter. To make a very long story short, in the span of a year, we’ve moved through three different sitters, my husband has begun working outside of the home, and I’ve begun working from my home office. Life is always changing, and we’ve adjusted.
For the past nine months, I’ve worked at home and have loved every moment of it. The work is engaging and exciting, and I get to see my little man throughout the day. His sitter is a certified lifeguard with infant CPR training, and she takes him to the pool and tumble gym and out for long walks and playing on the swingset. I get to be around in case something is wrong or if I just want to see his pudgy, smiley face. My office is on the third floor, so it’s easy to escape and get my work done. And I no longer have to deal with a commute or saying goodbye to my little guy every morning.
But, as I said before, life is always changing and it’s time to adjust again.
Our current sitter is amazing. We seriously love her. She is amazing with James, and, despite being young, she’s level-headed and smart when it comes to the needs of a toddler. She challenges him and teaches him all day. We love it, and James loves her. But (and there is always a “but”), she needs surgery and will soon be out of commission for 4-6 weeks. After shuffling through our previous sitters, finding this one was like winning the Powerball. And, like winning the Powerball, it only happens once in a lifetime (if you’re lucky). So, considering all of the factors, we’ve decided to move James into full-time daycare.
As a former educator with 12 years of practical experience, I know that kids generally thrive in peered community groups. While they may learn some bad habits from the other children in their group, they are also learning and developing at a faster rate due to the peer influence and example. They see their peers doing something, and they want to do it to. James had been refusing to walk prior to his first birthday, but, when he saw a good friend’s daughter walking all over the place at his birthday picnic, he began taking his first steps the very next day. James is also a social butterfly and a certified OC (Only Child), so having him in a regular social setting from an early age will (hopefully) foster his social skills and ease some of the potential pitfalls that OCs face.
I know that the daycare we’ve chosen is state-certified and has even earned a five-star rating from the state. The teachers are all either certified or hold degrees in early childhood development. The facility is clean and bright and full of toys and books and music and opportunities to make friends. Everyone we’ve encountered is friendly and nice and kind.
I know that we’ll actually be saving money by sending him to full-time daycare. Not only does the hourly rate work out to be considerably less than we are paying our sitter now, we’ll save money on food since they provide lunch and snacks and milk. (Remind me to tell you how we invested in the wrong farm animals when we started raising chickens!)
I know that having James in full-time daycare will be good for my career and my husband’s. He’ll have more flexibility to travel and build his clientele (he’s in sales), and I’ll have a quieter house where I can focus and work more easily without distractions. Right now, my office is the only safe, quiet space I have in the house. It’s on the third floor and very removed from everything, including the kitchen and the bathroom. If I need a change of scenery, too bad. But, with James in daycare, I will have more freedom to work in different spaces in the house. Hell, I can even work on the front porch swing if I want!
But, despite knowing all these things, I feel sad that my little man is leaving the house. I’ll miss spending time with him in little spurts throughout the day, and I’ll miss just having him close. Having him rely on other adults for the majority of his day already makes me feel unneeded. The logical, rational part of me knows that he’ll be in good hands and that the daycare horror stories you read are few and far between. (But, of course, on his trial daycare day, news breaks that a toddler was killed at a daycare facility when he suffocated under a bean bag!) The emotional Mom part of me knows that no one else can care for my son as well as I do! He needs to be near his momma!
When coupled with my husband’s rational and logical outlook, my rational self wins. In the next few weeks, James will become a full-time daycare kid. I know he’ll adjust fine. He’s a social kid who loves being around people, and he’s never had too much trouble with change. And I know that momma and daddy will adjust as well. We’ll settle into a new rhythm and life will continue to progress forward. But I do see some weepy mornings on my horizon. Hopefully they’ll be eased by a boy who excited to see me in the afternoons. But, if his trial day is any indication, he won’t care either way!