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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tuesdays/ Thursdays

As soon as she turned two and a half the girl started at her preschool. Since January of last year I have been taking her to school every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning. The transition was rough, but she has come to love her school, her teachers and the other kids.

I love the school too. But I have also loved the break.

Last year I really needed those three mornings. While the boy napped in his crib I was able to grab a nap myself or even just sit quietly. Sometimes I would clean or tidy, but mostly I would just stop and be by myself. Reflect on how little sleep I had gotten the night before and figure out how to make in through the hours until the husband came home.

I was lucky last year to also have my sister come by Tuesday and Thursday mornings to give me a hand with the kids or to take the girl out. Now that my sister has moved to Montreal we are alone in the city without any family. Oh, I have some great, amazing friends. But they all work or are at home with young kids too. There isn't really anyone to call and say "hey, can you take my kids and give me a break for a few hours?" At least not without doubling their own workload.

I found October really hard. There were times when I wanted to just chuck it all in and head back to work where I could have two fifteen minute breaks, an hour for lunch and uninterrupted bathroom time. Times when I doubted my ability to successfully parent these two children the way I want to parent them. Times when I thought I sucked.

So I looked at my options. Go back to work because the hard days were overshadowing the good or find a new path, a new option to help me manage these feelings of being overwhelmed. I opted, after much discussion with the husband and a friend, to increase the girl's time at preschool to five mornings a week instead of three.

Today was the first week of her new school schedule. I don't even think she will care. She loves it there. They engage her in a way I can't (at least not on the amount of sleep I am getting). But me, I am feeling the mommy guilt. While it was the best of two options for me, I still feel like I should have been able to manage to have her home with the boy and I for two mornings a week. I probably could. I mean, all summer it was just the three of us every day. But these last few weeks have taken their toll on me and I am feeling like I need some help. Since I don't have any free help from family, I am going to have to buy my help.

But the guilt. The real sense of guilt doesn't come from sending her to school, but from the feeling that if others can be at home with their kids all day then I should be able to too. The guilt is about me not being good enough.

13 comments:

  1. Are you kidding? You're the best. She's happy, you're more able to cope, the boy is probably thrilled to have you to himself, you will get a few more moments of peace to yourself... It sounds like great parenting to me.

    One of my friends said recently, which really struck a chord with me, that the best thing you can give your children is a happy mom.

    I think this sounds like a really good solution :)

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  2. For a variety of reasons, I am still sending my own daughter to daycare. I haven't worked since July 31, 2008. At first I kept her in it because I was planning to return to work and I didn't want to lose the space. It also gave her a chance to be engaged in age-appropriate activities with her peers when I had a newborn and couldn't be as present as I wanted.

    Since I got laid off I have kept the daycare because at 4 1/2 I would have my daughter in preschool otherwise, and I would rather stick with the place we know is good than deal with transitioning to another one. Yes, we only do 3 days a week in daycare, but they are 8 1/2 hour days.

    I sometimes feel guilty, or like I'm somehow 'cheating'. But then I see how happy my daughter is, and how much more sane I am. In a different time we would live in community and have lots of help. Lacking that, I'm OK with buying it.

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  3. Oh the guilt is what gets us mom's every time. But we really need to find a balance between meeting our kids needs and our own. We can't be good mom's if we are tired and overwhelmed all the time.
    I think you found a great solution. If it keeps everyone happy and healthy then it's working. Throw the guilt out with the garbage where it belongs.

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  4. I'm not sure there are that many people who are doing it without a whole lot of stress and unhappiness. There seem to be WAY more people who need the break than who don't out there. Try not to feel guilty (easier said than done, I know). I'm pretty sure that in the past when there were a lot more moms home it was easier because a) they had a lot of other moms for support b) they could send their kids out to play outside alone by the age of like, 2 and 3) they drank ;)
    I'm sure the girl will enjoy her time at daycare and hopefully things will feel a bit easier for you.

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  5. Oh I have so been in your shoes. I spent 2 1/2 years with the kids pretty much 24/7. It was the same as your situation- no family in town, plus my husband worked crazy long hours. Man those days were long. By the end of those 2.5 years I had a 2.5 year old and a 1 year old (mine are 18 mo. apart). And I was feeling so stretched, so tired, so much like I had no time to attend to myself at all, that I pretty much skipped the guilt part and enrolled my oldest in a 2 morning a week preschool program. Later when her brother was close to 2, he went as well. They liked it, and it did me a world of good...I used that time to catch up, to sleep, to just get out on my own.

    Please don't beat yourself up- you're taking care of yourself and your kids need to see you doing that.

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  6. You have nothing to feel guilty about. Everyone is different and needs different solutions. I get how hard it is without family in town. There is no emergency net.

    For a brief moment I felt guilt just before I went back to work, not because I was going, but because everyone was shocked I wasn't sad to be leaving my 5 month old at home (with his Dad). I became a better person, a better mom and a better partner to my Husband, just by getting out of the house to work part-time. I currently work 4 days a week and we only send our son to daycare three days a week and it works so well for us. He gets time with other kids and loves it, and we each get some days on our own with him.

    Try to step out of the guilt and enjoy the moments with your son and the unique things you can do, while your daughter gets the chance to develop her social skills and learn to be independent.

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  7. It sounds like you are making the right decision for you. I totally understand your guilt, but if it means the difference between a happy mommy and a stressed out mommy, it is worth it. I have a friend who needed that break and never admitted it to herself and it was heartbreaking to see her so angry and frustrated. And the kids knew it. Like they say: If Mommy's not happy, no one is happy.

    Take Care

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  8. Guilt is something we will have with us from when our child is born until they leave for university. I think the best course of action is not to try and eliminate it, but to learn to live with it, cope, and minimize its impact on our lives. But I so understand! I feel a twinge each morning I drop my son off to spend the day with his "other family", aka the Day Care.

    I have been discussing with my husband the idea of leaving our son in his day care if/when our second child is born. I see how wonderfully happy he is when he is there, how much he has developed, and how much the staff care for him. I weigh this happiness with the monthly bill, and I am torn on whether to save the money when I am off next, have more time with my son (and his little sibling), or continue to send him for the benefits it gives him.

    I think, judging by your daughter's happiness at her pre-school, that you are making the right decision for you and her! I'm glad it will give you some time to regroup, and spend some one on one time with your son.

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  9. Everyone has a different situation and we so do not do ourselves any favours by comparing ourselves to others (gosh i do it all the time though!)

    I have three. One in school, two at home but i have balanced it so that MOST days i do get a little time alone. If not I go BONKERS get stressed out and CRANKY.

    Do what is best for YOU and YOUR family ... seriously.

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  10. I kept Grommet in daycare 4 days a week, even when I was home with Biscuit. At first it was because I knew that there was no way I could look after her too while recovering from a C-section, and then it was partly to keep the spot, partly because we were just used to doing things that way.

    To be honest, I think it's partly also because I really cherished being able to devote myself exclusively to my youngest while he was a wee bundle of baby. I had thought he'd get shortchanged in that department compared to his sister, but in the end I think he got enough exclusive attention from me even if he wasn't my first or ever my only.

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  11. I agree with EVERYONE!! So no more guilt...enjoy YOUR time, because you know the girl is enjoying hers!! It is a time for her to be independent and learn and do all kinds of things that she is excited to show you and tell you about at the end of her day! And the boy on his own, without the big sister "bossing" him is able to learn and discover things his way and not to just "follow"!! Everyone wins...except the bank acct, which unfortunately is the way of life! :( I have my 3 yo in a 2 day a week program and she asks everyday "today I go to school?" My boy enjoys the quiet and so do I!! No guilt...just be content!

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  12. I personally think that there is absolutely nothing to feel guilty about! I know it's hard. Trust me - I work full time - it kills me that I can't be home with Theo and raise him myself - not even on a part-time basis. But I have no options unfortunately. So for the record - you're doing a fantastic job! And I agree with everyone's reasons that posted before me! Have a really good day!

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  13. I'm just going to say the same thing that everyone else is saying. The guilt is just part of the genetic make up of being a mom. But you have to be a happy mom to be a good mom. So try not to focus on the guilt to much and remember that you are being the best, in the best way that you can.

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