My son is of school-age now, so starting in August, he will be out of the house from 8:30 am until 3:05 pm most weekdays. My daughter goes to preschool from 8 am until 5 pm three days per week, and I’m about to put her back in the neighborhood daycare she used to go to from 8 am until 5 pm an additional day per week.
So, should I still call myself a stay-at-home mom if my kids are barely home during the week? Forget “stay-at-home”, am I still a “mom” if other people take care of my kids more hours than I do?
I used to say I would never stick my kids in daycare or get a nanny because I didn’t want someone else “raising my kids”. I still feel that way, but only about fictional, idealized children. My real, flesh-and-blood, stinky, cranky kids, I will totally put in childcare.
- My daughter is happier when she can spend time with other kids her age
- She eats more and more variety when I’m not around (I have no idea why)
- It’s healthy for my kids to have relationships with other trusted adults
- I’ll be much more pleasant when I do spend time with my kids in the morning, evening, and on weekends because I’ve had plenty of “me” time as well as done a bunch of chores
I wrote in “My Miracle Child” about how I first started learning that I don’t have to be everything for my kids. Perhaps I’m overcompensating now, paying handsomely for a small “village” of people to help me raise my kids.
Despite my facetious comment above, I feel extremely guilty about this. For one thing, we really are spending a lot of money on childcare, and it’s not like I’m bringing in any income to offset the cost. For another, I realize not everyone can afford to do this, so why should I be able to? How selfish of me to pay for childcare to have more time for me, instead of volunteering at a homeless shelter, or tutoring inner-city kids. (Crap, writing that makes me feel like I really ought to be doing those things.)
It is selfish to make more time for myself. I intend to spend the time writing, and finding ways to get paid for my writing so that I will in fact be “working out of the home,” and hopefully making a little money, although realistically I think it will be a long time before it’s any sizable amount. I also plan to start exercising again and to cook more at home.
The idea is that if I invest time in myself, I will be a better mother and a better person. In all likelihood, I may not totally be child-free since I have a habit of offering my child-free time to watching my friends’ kids (they’re so much nicer to people who aren’t their parents). And that way, they don’t have to spend the money for childcare, I can give it to them for free.
It occurred to me that I wouldn’t want to date a person who did everything for me, who gave up all of their hobbies and interests for me, who catered to my every whim, and I don’t want to parent that way either. Of course, my kids do need me for a lot of things, but being with them 40 hours during weekdays is not one of them.
Please share your thoughts on putting your child in care, whether you’re a working parent, a stay-at-home parent, or whether you don’t put your child in childcare at all.