Why Having My Kids In Daycare Is Emotionally Draining

It all started when I went back to work when Gabby was 7 months old. She had never been away from me and was so attached that I did my best to NOT walk the 200 steps over to the daycare multiple times a day to make sure she was ok. It was good for her to not be ripped from my arms so often. It was the right thing to do.

But the act of leaving meant that I was missing out on the best part of her day.

I’m not saying that she wasn’t happy to be home and with her two loving parents. I’m saying she used up all of her good, happy time at school and had nothing left at the end of the day. We, her parents, had nothing left at the end of the day. And so it seemed pointless. And when it feels like there MUST be a better way, and you don’t change what you’re doing, you enter an emotional vacuum.

It gets better and it gets worse. With Lillian, I DID go to see her during the day a time or two when I could because I wanted to watch her play and hold her when I was having a bad day. She handled me leaving better, because my coming and going was a constant and she started daycare when she was 13 weeks old. But she is a child who needs a lot of sleep. Her bedtime for the first year was 6:30 PM. I literally got one hour with her after work before I had to rush her screaming, exhausted body to bed. Nighttime nursing was as exhausting as it was a comfort to us both.

Sad Lilly

We were all getting a raw deal.

It’s really no different now. I get excellent reports from their teachers:

“Gabby is the first one to follow directions in the whole class.”

“Lillian hasn’t had any meltdowns this week.”

This is the complete opposite of my experience and I know why. Home is their safe place. They know Mom and Dad love them unconditionally. So, when they get transferred back into my care, the listening ears shut off and the meltdown floodgates open because they are tired. They are tired of learning, obeying, following instructions, and being told what to do. They need a release. And I completely get that.

But I still resent missing out on the best parts of their day.

Daycare: Getting Us By For Just A Mere One Billion Dollars

Nope. Not sleepy at all.

Next month, it’ll have been 2 years since we have been living the two-working-parents life. With no family nearby, we had to make the extremely difficult decision to send our precious baby to full-time daycare. It is not easy to go from being with a baby 24/7 to only seeing her 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours before she goes to bed. That was a rough transition.

However… Remember that time I wrote about how I am a Type A person with no ability to stick to a routine? Without daycare, I never would have gotten Gabby on any kind of schedule. What I learned with Gabby was to let the daycare teachers set her schedule and then just stick to it at home. I had a much easier time with Lilly. Also, those ladies know how to guide an infant toward toddlerhood. I have gone to them time and time again to ask for advice on how to get my kids to sleep (because even when they are giving me a hard time napping at home, they just go to sleep like little angels at daycare), how to get them to eat, what is developmentally normal, etc. It’s like asking a pediatrician, but I don’t have to make an appointment because I am there every single day.

Then there are the transitions. Daycare teachers who stick around are doing it because they love what they do. The pay is awful, benefits are minimal, and the work is exhausting. Most daycare teachers are waiting for a “real” teaching job and are only there temporarily. I’m assuming this is not as big of a problem at the pre-school and pre-K levels, but with infants and toddlers, there has been a near-constant shuffle of caregivers for my kids. Lilly is on her third lead teacher in the infant room and Gabby is on her third in the toddler room (and she had two different teachers when she was in infants). That is a lot of transition for a kid who needs to feel security and comfort if she is to be away from her parents all day.

Then there is the bill. I do feel that the quality of care our kids receive is worth the money. It is just really difficult to me to “take home” negative dollars while my kids are in daycare. By the time Lilly is in Kindergarten, we will have paid more than I owe on my student loans. If I were to stay home with them for the next 4 years, I couldn’t guarantee that I could find a job locally – especially with the awesome boss I have and state benefits. It is worth the money. It is worth the sanity. There aren’t enough story times at the library to keep me from losing my mind from spending that much time away from adult topics of conversation.

Daycare. I love it. I hate it. I don’t know what we would do without it.

Every Day is the Same

“Yeah, I’m making a mess at 7am. Wanna fight about it?”

I am SO over the morning routine.

I think the morning is even worse than bedtime.

Add potty-training to the mix and the mornings are just 2.5 hours of arguing with a toddler and pulling an infant out of harm’s way… all before I even have to go to work. Most days, by the time I get to work, I am sweating, harried, and disgruntled from all of the running around, organizing and nagging I have to do.

I could probably reduce some stress by preparing the night before, but who has the energy to do that?!?!

In addition to all the arguing and resistance to do the same things they are required to do EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. there is the mess-making and insanity-inducing repetitive singing of a two-year old. I actually feel like I am going crazy some mornings after hearing, “ABCDEFGHIJKABC!” over and over and over…

And Lillian’s scream is something to behold. It will stop you in your tracks. One of her teachers at daycare goes out of her way to avoid known triggers for her outbursts. I can’t avoid them. Diaper changes = screaming. Putting on a coat = screaming. Getting her in the car seat = screaming, I would almost prefer hearing Gabby incorrectly sing the alphabet at maximum volume.

Serenity now. Serenity now. Serenity NOWWWWWWW!

Working Mom Blog Series: Episode 3 – in which my house is not disgusting

So, I swear, my house is totally not gross, but we don’t clean while the kids are awake. 

Let me explain… This is part of the reason I stand by early bedtimes. I feel that the better quality the time I spend with my kids, the less guilt I feel for the time they are away from me. Thus, I do not clean while my girls are in my presence. Only when they are not here do I clean. 
The details: First of all, we do a ton after they go to bed. Laundry, dishes,yardwork… It all happens after bedtime.  I feel this is not only a safety precaution with young kids, but since Gabby is a fraidy-cat, it allows us to do noisy chores without whining. 
Secondly, we trade off kids when we want to get stuff done. If there are big jobs (painting, construction, grocery shopping), we will plan ahead and have one parent on kid duty while the other does the hard job. These jobs would not get done otherwise. 
Thirdly, we let Gabby help where she is able. I’ve long ago gotten over my perfectionism and am now a pro at just letting her do chores she wants to do. Who am I to judge the quality of her help? I now just accept whatever she is willing to do and keep my expectations low. It makes for much less anxiety. 
Last, I do make an effort to do things like clean the hardwood floors, vacuum, laundry over lunch breaks when I really need to get things done. Living so close to work affords me the luxury of not living in complete squalor. 
How do you get things done with kids around?

Working Mom Blog Series – Episode 2: How I See My Kids Enough

I’ve been criticized for sending my girls to bed too early. “You never see them!” To dispel the condemnation and guilt, I thought I’d touch on this because I feel like it can be helpful to other working moms. 

Lillian starts fussing to go to bed before I even get her home. For a while, I thought she was colic (even though I am skeptical of the colic diagnosis 90% of the time). Babies cry, so I powered through her early months thinking about why she was so miserable in the evenings. I went out on a limb. Maybe she’s tired! So I started putting her to bed between 6 and 6:30pm. 
Fussiness cured. Mommy guilt exponentially increased. She is awake around 5:30 or 6am and I drop her off around 8 am. Therefore, I am currently seeing her around 2 hours in the morning and maybe 1 hour before bed. I miss my baby but I am totally seeing her enough. Here’s how:
1. I stop by daycare at lunch. I mostly stop by to drop off milk, but if she’s awake I will stay to play. She usually will sleep during this time and I can go run errands or go home, but sometimes she stays awake and I am grateful for that extra hour of Mommy-Lilly time. 
2. I take her up to bed ASAP. Even though she usually intends to fall asleep close to 7pm, I bring her up closer to 6 so we can cuddle and play a bit without Daddy and Gabby. I want that little bit of together time and it is important to both of us. 
3. She still nurses through the night plenty. We nurse on average 3 times over 12 hours in the night. I feel like this is an acceptable amount (compared to Gabby) and she typically wakes for the first time past 2am which is pretty great.  I cherish these night feedings and am not wishing them away for one second. 
So that’s how I feel like I see Lilly enough. Gabby stays up later and is more interactive so I definitely get my fill of her by her bedtime. 
How do you maximize your time with your kids?

Working Mom Blog Series – Episode 1: How We Get Out of the House in the Mornings

Dressed and playing. Not quite ready to go.

“What time do you guys wake up in the mornings?!?!” I’ve heard this question time and time again from other moms, incredulous at Facebook pictures of my children fully dressed and walking around the house sucking down yogurt pouches at 7 am. I will let you in on my secret… I’ve learned how to avoid the major morning battles by simply ambushing my kids when they first wake up.

Lillian is usually the first one up. She starts rolling over and fussing in her crib between 6 and 6:30 am. I snatch her out of the crib, grab some clothes from her dresser and plop her on the changing table. I change her diaper and clothes and set her down on the floor with some toys to play with,

By this time, Gabby usually starts stirring and whining that she lost her binky. I move the crib from the wall, retrieve it (and all of the other junk that has landed there in the night) and plop her on the changing table and proceed to change her diaper and clothes. Now, I know plenty of people with toddlers would say to me, “I just change my toddler on the floor. You’re nuts trying to wrangle her onto the changing table!” The changing table is the key to my morning success. Gabby will run and grab toys or use a million other avoidance tactics to get away from me if I don’t have her on the changing table. I don’t give her the option to run and she knows better than to try to pull any unsafe maneuvers while she is on the changing table.

This process takes less than 15 minutes. I pick up Lilly and coax Gabby downstairs with the promise of a snack or a cup of milk. She can walk herself down the stairs (albeit SLOWLY), and I carry the baby down. I get whatever I bribed Gabby with, settle Lilly down with a toy and I am free to get ready for work.


After the shoe and hair assault

The most challenging part of the morning is Gabby’s hair. She runs when she sees the comb, so I usually have to chase and catch her and put on PBS Kids so she will sit still for me to do her hair. Once she is ready, I load the kids into the car, start the car, run in and grab my bags and coffee and we hit the road singing “Let It Go” for the short 8 minute drive. Because I work from 9-5, we try to get into the car by 8:15 so I have time to settle them into daycare and do what I need to before I start my work day.

Once I drop them off and get to the office, I usually pump while eating my breakfast and drinking my coffee.

So that’s it! Is it hectic? Yes! But this is our routine and it works for us!

Do you have any tips to make mornings easier?