In theory childcare is an easy thing to take care off. When I was pregnant the thought of childcare wasn’t a problem. Just have the baby, work from home with the baby for as long as possible and then send her to day care, easy right?
No, not really. Putting this into practice I realised very quickly that there was no way I would ever be able to work a “normal” 8 hour day with a baby. I couldn’t just put her in the pram and leave her there for the day. Nappy changing, breastfeeding, rocking a baby to sleep and a little girl that just wants to be held took up almost all my time. Add in the additional washing, bottle sterilizing, expressing milk and additional chores that need to be done and my days were wrecked. Work got squashed into the precious few minutes my daughter slept during the day and then late in the evenings after she went to bed.
When the time came that I couldn’t carry on trying to work at home with her the thought of leaving my precious 6 month old daughter in the care of someone else made me cold with terror. What if they left her to cry all day and ignored her? I would never know. What if they let her fall off the changing table? I knew without a doubt in my mind that nobody would give her the same love and attention I give her.
And of course there was the feeling of resentment I had, even though I had agreed with my husband I would keep her at home with me for as long as possible, I resented the fact that life as I knew it had basically come to an end! Everything I did 24 hours a day was dictated by this little bundle of joy.
Going from being an independent single woman, living on my own and working for myself in November 2010 to married with a newborn baby in October 2011 was quite the life-style change for less than a year, and of course completely unexpected. Yes I resented a lot of things and I struggled with almost everything.
My daughter is now 3 years old and we have tried all sorts of child care options. Sending her to crèche at 6 months old lasted 3 weeks and then she got ill and spent a week in hospital. After that we had an au pair for a year looking after her at my home while I worked from home. When the au pair resigned there was a rough patch of 3 weeks where the new lady kept not pitching for her 1st day, after 3 weeks of being messed around I told her she doesn’t have the job. The next lady worked for 2 days with my daughter strapped in a pram while she cleaned. I told her that her first priority was my daughter, even if nothing got cleaned she must look after my daughter. She never came back for day 3. Then we had a day mother for 6 months until she moved premises and I wasn’t happy with the new premises. Once again suddenly no childcare!
When my daughter was 2 she started at a private pre-school and I thought “YAY! This is it, I can finally work properly” and life came and gave me a reality check, yes 2 little lines…. not part of the business plan, not part of my life plan and of course just as I thought I could finally get a bit of my life back and work. Right back to square one, the worry and frustration all over again.
It was hard the second time around but easier in the way that I knew what to expect, I had a full time assistant so I could get more done and I had become adjusted to the fact my life is not my own anymore. I kept my son with me at work for 10 months and then he started crèche half day until he was 13 months. He has just started crèche full day and once again I can start working properly.
I wonder what other parents do and how they cope? I have my own business, which makes a lot of things harder in some aspects but when a child is sick or I am let down with child care I can just drop everything and put my child first. I also have a caring husband that will take time off if I can’t do everything on my own. What about the single parents and the parents that have a very small income and just don’t have the option of choosing whether they will have an au pair, a crèche or a day mother? I know some single moms that have no choice about where they send their child. They just cannot afford anywhere else, they don’t have transport and they have to keep working. I can’t imagine the torment a mother must go through being unhappy with their childcare but not being able to do anything about it.