Biting the Daycare Bullet

baby daycare

Babies can be happy at daycare! Right? Credit: cincomomo

I’ve been a work-at-home mom since before my daughter was born. I’ve “balanced” my work with the kids and have documented some of my frustrations here. Trying to do it all, for me, meant that I was being a full-time mom during the days, writing during naps if possible, and then exhaustedly trying to work at night.

When you’re trying to do it all, unless you don’t sleep, certain things start to suffer. When you’re pulled in 50 different directions, there is only so long you can last before your arms are pulled off your body and your legs are heading in another direction. (See? My brain has also left because that was a terrible metaphor.) My husband and I spend a few fleeting moments together in the evenings when I’m not working.

I had a babysitter for awhile, which was helpful, but because I was home, it was far from uninterrupted work time. And right now, I’m working while my hubby’s watching the kids. I got pulled out of my office mid-sentence to keep an eye on my daughter while he went up to get the baby back down to sleep. I gladly do it, but it doesn’t make for being productive in any way.

Even with my normal workload, I’ve known this isn’t a sustainable situation. I’ve been at my wit’s end for so long, overwhelmed and behind. And now in addition to the normal workload, Jenn and I have another big project we’re working on, so I need to bite the daycare bullet.

I visited a daycare last week. It was fine. My daughter hopped right into her classroom and made herself comfortable. The infant room was fine. The daycare is super flexible, and I’m only looking at doing a couple of half-days a week, adding more days on an as-needed basis.

I’m filled with equal parts relief and dread. I’m excited to have dedicated, uninterrupted work time. Excited to write and cross a few things off the to-do list that have been ignored. Excited to have a little kid-free time. Dreading the drop-off those first days. Feeling guilty that my son has to hit daycare before he’s a year old. Dreading pumping so he’ll have milk during the mornings. Dreading the kid-free time.

I know it’s not the end of the world. It’s a few hours a week. I know I’ve been lucky to get to stay home with the kids this long. I know something’s gotta give for my sanity. But dang if it’s not hard to drop your kids off and know that mommy won’t be there for every little whimper.

Help me out, mamas! What words of wisdom do you have for a daycare newbie? I’ll get over it, right? —Erin


Comments

  1. Atisheh says

    We started our baby at a small group daycare at 6 months, beginning with an hour a day and working up to 6-7 hrs. He loves it. He gets to play with other kids, there are interesting toys there, and the woman who takes care of these four babies is paying attention to them exclusively. I think this is better than me trying to get something done and half-ignoring my kid, and being frustrated because my work is suffering and I’m being a neglectful mom.

    The upshot is that I now really, really enjoy the time I spend with my baby. When I’m taking care of him, I focus on him, I allow myself to really take the time. It’s changed my feelings about motherhood from frustration to joy. I also love that he gets to interact with other kids, which he wouldn’t at home (he’s our first). The other babies are a bit older, so he sees them standing, walking, playing, etc. It’s good.

    I will say this — there is one kid in the group whose mother had him at home for the first year. She nursed exclusively, so he’d never even had a bottle, and then brought him to the daycare when she spontaneously decided to go back to work. He cannot be fed by other people — doesn’t drink or eat all day. It’s terrible. Part of our job as parents is raising our kids to be independent, and part of that is letting other people care for them, feed them, put them to bed, etc.

  2. Kathy says

    I went back to work part time when my son was 10 months old and it was hard but it was awesome for him! He loved daycare and being around the other kids. He napped better and slept better at night. I felt bad leaving him at first, but it was so nice to drive by myself in the car and even work and be around other adults. My son is pretty independent at 2 now which I partially credit to daycare. Good luck!

  3. Jessica says

    Miles started daycare at 6 months, after being watch by my mother-in-law while I was at work. I cried when I dropped him off, but in the four months he’s been going there, he’s never once cried. He loves being around the other babies and his teachers are great. Now all I cry about is how much it costs! Oh, and if your kids have never been exposed to a ton of other kids all day, be prepared for a lot of colds. I think the hardest part for you, Erin, will be focusing on just working while the kids are away–you’ll be tempted to fill that uninterrupted time with so much of that “other stuff” that you never have a chance to do–like housework, cooking a meal that takes longer than 5 minutes to prepare, or even little “me” time things like painting your nails!

  4. elm says

    I think dropping your baby off at daycare is sometimes harder on the parents than the baby. Mine has been at daycare since he was 3 months old (he’s 14 months now) and he loves it. He loves being around the other kids, playing with new toys and getting out of the house a bit. Of course there have been stages when he has cried when we drop him off, but the teachers assure us that it’s only until we leave :). I completely agree with Jessica on the temptation to get other things done while the kids are away – I also work from home, although my job is a little more structured in hours (8 to 5) – and I spend every lunch trying to get caught up on housework, errands, etc. It does make me more focused on my baby when he’s home though. And definitely be prepared for some colds! But by the time they’re in kindergarten they’ll have super-immune systems! :)

  5. Sarah says

    “Atisheh: Part of our job as parents is raising our kids to be independent, and part of that is letting other people care for them, feed them, put them to bed, etc.”

    You couldn’t be more wrong. At just a year or 2 old, a child SHOULD still be attached to his or her mother. I’m not saying children this young can’t allow others to care for them, but the goal of parenting is to raise independent ADULTS, not unattached children.

  6. Tristan says

    Those feelings you’re having are a signal that there is a better solution. Sorry, but daycare can NEVER replace the time spent with mom for your children in the first five years. Maybe to solution is to work less or even put a hold on work until the little ones are no longer little? Or be involved with fewer projects at once so you can give your best to 1 or 2 in the time you’re able to work at home around the kids (aka during naps before they wake in the morning, or afterthey sleep at night).

    ((HUGS)) It’s not an easy place to be if youdo choose work over your kids.

    And in case you’re wondering, I’m pregnant with my EIGHTH child, have worked from home some, and homeschool the kiddos. It’s 100% possible. Not easy. But easier than dropping them off to daycare where they will make their primary attachment to a stranger or two for those formative first five years of life!

  7. Atisheh says

    “Sarah: You couldn’t be more wrong. At just a year or 2 old, a child SHOULD still be attached to his or her mother. I’m not saying children this young can’t allow others to care for them, but the goal of parenting is to raise independent ADULTS, not unattached children.”

    Where in the world did you get the idea that having other people pitch in with child care would lead to them not being attached to their mother? And why just their mother? What about their father, or grandparents? For most of human history, children have been cared for by multiple people, including family members, older siblings, etc. Now it’s supposed to be all mom, all the time. This is ridiculous — as is extreme attachment theory, which is based on extrapolating observations made on severely abused children to normal families.

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