Friday, 9 January 2015

Home Daycare & Life Decisions

I'm offering this post by way of explanation and apology for how this blog has looked of late. Explanation for the "tired mom" and financial-related posts and "filler" posts to fill the gaps between posts where I actually have something to say.

I've been busy. Busier than usual, believe it or not.

In addition to all the other paid work I do - my part-time job, my freelance gigs, the personal training, the writing, the various blogs; in addition to managing two soccer teams and volunteering for school council; in addition to full-time at-home mommying my three boys; in addition to everything else I'm now running a full-time home daycare.

I know. I've talked about this. It's something I said I'd never do.

It sort of happened by accident.

Earlier this year, my neighbours were at loose ends trying to cut down their child care expenses between their various daycare and babysitting arrangements. Hoping to supplement my income until our youngest starts school next fall and I can return to work full-time, I offered to help out on a part-time occasional basis. Part-time. And occasional. I gathered information from other home daycare moms, I discussed arrangements with my neighbours, I prepped my own kids and wrapped my mind around the idea of taking someone else's kids into my home and caring for them part-time.

We arranged a start date and started. Then stopped. Then started again, after a while, then stopped again without notice. It occurred to me that these people were the flakiest human beings I'd ever met and I was probably better off not relying on any commitment they might or might not make.

Months passed, then out of nowhere last fall I got an email from them re-confirming prices and asking a bunch of questions. I sighed and responded, not at all sure I even wanted to bother anymore. But no harm in responding - no commitment - a day or two here or there wouldn't hurt and a couple of extra dollars in the Christmas budget would be great!

And then the bomb dropped - my neighbours were splitting up, the house was for sale, they were trying to cut costs everywhere and oh hey, would I mind starting full-time daycare for their two kids all day every day starting that Monday?

What the hell could I say at that point? I didn't want to run a home daycare. I certainly didn't want to do it full-time. But I didn't really feel like I could say no.

We struggled with the decision, my family and I. My older two boys wouldn't like having the kids here - the neighbours' kids are younger, and very young for their ages. We'd lose some of our family time together - and family time is very important to us. And I might just absolutely hate it. BUT, the income would ensure that I could stay home with my baby this one final year before he starts kindergarten and we'd still be able to afford our spring break Disney trip, the boys' hefty rep sports fees, a couple of home renos we've been waiting on, and all the little treats and extras we love to spoil our family with. And I didn't feel like I could say no.

Fast forward a couple of months - and I guess it hasn't been the worst thing ever.

But it hasn't been the greatest.

I've appeased the older kids by moving a small TV and the Playstation into their bedroom and buying them their own tablet to share - and relaxed the "no videogames on weekdays" rule during the hour and a half after school that the little ones are still here. Most days they just hide out in their bedroom reading and playing until the neighbours' kids clear out, or I set the little ones up in the playroom and play a board game with the older ones - it's a pretty small trade-off for treats like a Disney trip, rep sports, and having Mommy home every day. As far as our family time goes that hour and a half when all five kids are here are really spent so busy with snacks, homework, dinner prep and getting organized for our evening sports that there's not all that much of a difference.

The time during the day with the youngest boys - my son and the neighbours' - is different. I definitely miss my alone time with my baby - and he with me. I'd hoped, since the boys are so close in age, that they'd make perfect playmates; but though the little boy I'm watching is six months older than my son he's a year or more behind him developmentally and my boy is often frustrated by him. It's been an adjustment. A big one.

And as for me - well, I don't hate it; but I don't love it. I don't know how long this will continue - the neighbours could flake out tomorrow or next week, or I could just finally reached the end of my patience - but at the absolute most it could conceivably carry on until the end of the school year. My baby boy starts kindergarten next year and I will be returning to more full-time work. I will not be doing any daycare. This summer will be the last before all three of my kids are in school. I will not sacrifice my summertime with my boys.

But in the meantime - I'm a little extra tired every evening, I'm up a little later meeting deadlines and catching up on work I don't have time to do during the day. I'm operating on even less sleep and even fewer hours than usual and a few things have been falling by the wayside - but I will still be here, at least twice a week, and I will do my absolute best to make each post a post that actually means something. Because this blog means something to me.

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