The Daycare Dilemma | Part 2

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This post is a follow-up to The Daycare Dilemma | Part 1, a series of emails between me and some amazing women about an honest look at the decision to send our babies to daycare.

Before Fox was born I was pretty sure that I’d be able to swing working from home – at least try it out for a few months – maybe until Fox was 8 months old. I imagined that I’d have a baby perfectly content to sleep in a sling while I worked. I even had this vision of us in the backyard on a quilt – me blogging while the baby keeps himself occupied trying to master getting his foot into his mouth.

So imagine my dilemma when 6 weeks in I was freaking out about how reality looked nothing like the fantasy. I only had two more weeks of maternity leave left and no plan for how I would work and be a new mom. Because the truth is being a mom is both harder and better than I could have ever imagined. When Fox is napping I just want to hold him and stare at his perfect little face. And when he’s not napping I’m feeding him, or walking laps around the house with him, or simply being present with him. All of this does very little for my productivity.

Let me be very clear here: I love my job and I was looking forward to going back to work. I also love being Fox’s mom. I thought I could do it all, and it turns out I can. It just looks a little different than I had imagined. It looks like getting help – and that help comes in the form of daycare.

Fox has been in daycare for 4 weeks now and here’s what I’ve learned and would like to share about the experience and coping with the concerns most moms have when handing over their baby to someone else’s care. Please remember that I’m new at this and figuring it out as I go. What I’m sharing below are parenting choices and circumstances that work for our family. What works for my family may not work for yours – and that’s okay!

Choose gratitude over guilt
This is the first big lesson I had to learn. There is this huge culture of guilt among moms – and while I get it, I’m also calling bullshit on it. I started to fall into the guilt storyline when I started taking Fox to daycare. That is until I realized daycare is awesome. I am so grateful that I have the means to take my child to a safe space everyday where he can be nurtured and taken care of by other women who are now a part of our trusted tribe. I am beyond grateful for the space daycare gives me to nurture myself with dedicated time to work, write, meditate, and move my body. Guilt is one of the lowest vibrating emotions you can experience – so I choose love and gratitude instead.

Co-sleeping
Sharing a bed with a baby is not for everyone – but it is what feels best and most intuitive for our family. Never once has it felt dangerous or uncomfortable. So, one of my concerns with daycare was not spending enough time with my baby. The idea that he would spend more waking hours with his daycare providers than with me made me worry that he would be confused or feel unloved (this fear is unfounded, whether or not you co-sleep). That said, co-sleeping does give us more time together – and when it comes to bonding with a newborn staying close is what matters most.

Daily rituals
If co-sleeping gives us quantity time together, then our daily rituals give us quality time. We spend an hour every morning cuddling in a wood rocking chair handed down from my mom. We spend every afternoon going for a long walk – only after decompressing with some skin-to-skin time after the daycare pickup. Then we’re usually guaranteed with a dance party once Jeremy comes home followed by the go-to-bed rituals of swaddling, walking, singing, and feeding. I know myself well enough to know that if I stayed at home with Fox all day I would still love these moments but I wouldn’t be soaking them up with the presence they deserve.

Fox is not my job, he’s my baby
The cliche that being a mom is the hardest job you can have is true. Or at least it’s true that being a mom is way harder than my job of coaching, business visioning, and branding for other creatives. I’m a great mom but I don’t want Fox to be my job. I want him to be my baby. I want writing, consulting, coaching, and designing to be my job. Daycare allows me to be really good at both my job and my role as mom and wife.

I’m learning new ways to care for my baby 
One of the things I love about daycare is I learn new ways to take care of Fox. For example, I noticed one of his teachers swaddled him with his legs sticking out of the swaddle – meanwhile, I had been struggling for days trying to get his whole (growing and kicking) body contained, which was frustrating the both of us. I learned how to swaddle him in a way that comforts him and gives him a bit of freedom to move at the same time. I also learn little noises (like clicking) that make him happy. It’s awesome.

More love for Fox 
Just today I picked up Fox and one of his favorite teachers was holding him. She told me about taking him on an adventure outside for 30 minutes earlier that day (at that point another teacher accused her of spoiling Fox). Another time she confessed to me that he was the happiest baby in the class. One time I surprise popped in to drop off some extra baby wipes for Fox and he was on his teacher’s lap being read to – and he seemed really happy. I get the feeling that he isn’t just properly cared for but he’s actually being loved by the women looking after him all day. It makes me hope that his daycare experience is expanding his capacity to trust, love, and be loved.

In closing, I get asked all the time – even in client meetings – “where’s the baby?” When I respond with “daycare” I am met with either “Awwww (that must be painful, huh?)” to “Good for you!” – and the truth is, it’s a little bit of both. Does it tug at my heart to drop Fox off or find him occasionally crying when I pick him up? Yes, of course. But does that make me want to give up my career to stay at home with him all day? No, not really. Being a mom is complex and often feels like a tug-of-war of emotions and decisions! Who knew (pretty much every mom ever).

Candid snaps by my amazing friend and photographer Greer Inez – she’s the best at capturing sweet family moments.

  1. Celeste

    I’m so happy that you’re finding your balance. And that you are thriving in your rhythm; it is one of the biggest struggles of the “working” mom. I’m sure you’ll find more challenges in the journey ahead but you are making a wonderful start to the beginning of this amazing chapter in your life.

  2. Heather

    I couldn’t agree more! You really hit the nail on the head with this post. It’s unfortunate that so many moms are made to feel guilty about using day care when it can really be such a wonderful resource! I enjoy that I have someplace to go each day and that my kids aren’t my job (I know that if I stayed at home I might start to feel that way – not that all SAHM feel that way). I think the biggest thing is just finding a day care that you really feel comfortable and good about, which it sounds like you definitely have! It’s a good feeling to know that not only is your child being cared for, but they are also experiencing love.

  3. Melissa

    you’ve articulated so many things that i feel and agree with.

  4. Olivia

    Gorgeous photos.

    I love what you said about co-sleeping. I work from 7-3, and by the time we get home, wash bottles, make dinner, and have a bath…the day is gone. So, we often put him to bed in his crib, clean up, watch a show, and then bring him to bed with us. It combines the best of both worlds. I need a little time by myself/with the hubs, but we both love being near him at night.

    Fox is a lil gentleman! Maybe someday the men can meet :)

  5. Deb Charlap

    I am SO happy for you guys that daycare is expanding Fox’s love tribe! That was my unexpected experience, too.

  6. I’m so glad to hear you found a great, loving daycare for Fox! It sounds like you both get to have such good days with amazing people, and then come together later to share your evenings, nights, and mornings in your own way.

    Going on adventures as a family is a great thing, but letting your son go have adventures of his own is even more amazing. There’s a great big world out there, and he’s got a lot of ladies to melt with his adorable smile! ;-)

  7. Oh, how I love “Fox is not my job, he’s my baby”! Because I never thought of my kid as a job and I never thought of myself as a “full-time mom”. I think it is absolutely possible to do all things you love, including work AND taking good care of your kid.

    My kid slept with us every night until she was almost 2 years old. She had a bed, but liked to sleep with us. She slowly started sleeping more and more on her bed, by her own choice.

  8. Heather

    Thank you for calling bullshit on the guilt that comes with daycare. I am so grateful my son gets to hang with kids his own age, be loved and nurtured by an awesome, diverse group of folks, & gets experiences I couldn’t give him. Even if I stayed home, I’d send him a few days a week.

  9. Jill

    I appreciate your thoughtful posts on motherhood. They are always very relatable.

  10. This is awesome and perfect. You are doing a GREAT job!

  11. jaclyn

    I don’t have kids but I was a daycare kid and I can say from experience that some of my most cherished memories and experiences of early childhood are from daycare. From making a diverse group of friends, to trying different foods and field trips we’d take, I loved daycare!

    Also, it really helped prepare me for grade school. I had lots of classmates in kindergarten who could barely make it through the half-day of school, whereas I was like, “wait, we have to go home already?!”

  12. helena

    I am now 28 years old and spent my childhood (from 1 to 10 years) in daycare. It was great, I had lots of friends and we played a lot. I am happy to have been there.
    But I did not build a very strong relationship to my parents. They did not know my favourite games and foods, they were not with me in my little adventures during the day; – they were the strangers I had to spend the very confusing weekends with. I called the women in daycare Mom, because they were the Moms I knew.
    I am thankful to my parents for having put me in daycare. They did not really want to take their time to spend with me. In this situation it is great if you can go to daycare.

    Now I am often surprised, when partents bring their kids to daycare and imagine, that the firmness of the relationship to their kids will not be strongly influenced by this.

  13. Melanie

    I really admire your ability to be completely open about topics that can sometimes become unnecessarily controversial. I’m glad to hear that someone as passionate about her work as found a balance that works for you right now. I love the bit about how Fox is getting loved at daycare, and sharing that perspective opens up the conversation from “bad versus good” to focusing on the best parts of each compromise. I’m not a mom, but I feel like reading about your experience makes the prospect a lot less intimidating for my future.

  14. Emily

    I’ve so enjoyed these posts! There are so many issues I’ve been considering in thinking I might want to have kids in a few years and this was a great answer to a few of the questions I’ve had.
    It’s awesome that things are working out so well for you and that you’ve adapted and found happy ground to your new family situation. :)

  15. Love every point! Spot on. I think it was Brene Brown who said something like “You can’t claim to care for a child and guilt their mother at the same time.” Really over the mom’s guilting each other. The point about wanting Fox to be your baby and not your job, so interesting. I’ve never thought about it like that. Again, love all the points.

  16. Kyla Cockrem

    As an early childhood teacher working full time in an infant and toddler room I really appreciated reading your comments regarding your feelings about trusting your son was being well cared for an loved at his childcare. I fall in love with all the children in my care, and feel fortunate to be in this position. I have one wee boy in my care who has been with me since he was 3 months old, I have built a wonderful relationship with his mother and feel blessed to have him and these other little beings in my life.

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  18. Katie

    Wow, thanks for this post. I have a one year old and this is something we’re still working out. Up to this point, my husband and I have been able to tag team baby care and work, but when he starts a new job this summer, we’re going to have to create a new schedule that may involve day care.

  19. Rach

    Kathleen! Thank you so much four sharing your journey and the emails from those other women who shared in helping you making this decision. I have no children but over the last year I’ve really been introspective about what out means and looks like to be a mother who has a career. I’ve loved reading your perspective.

  20. I must confess, when reading way back when what your plan was, I was really looking forward to following along. My hubby and I want to start our family and I work from home as well, and am planning what you planned. To see what works and isn’t working for you is a big blessing! Thank you so much for sharing and giving all the advice to us all!

  21. sarah moon

    Funny thing, not necessarily related to the post… I gave birth to my second child five months ago. He has been given the pet name ” Zorito,” which is fox in Spanish. He also has very similar features to your son. To top it off, you and I both have blonde locks. I just had to point this out. Best wishes to you and your family.

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