Summer Childcare Planning


The first year I returned to work I was chained to a desk 8 hours a day all summer.  It was a hard summer for both me and my daughter as I missed our time together, missed hanging at the pool, going on walks, to the park, the zoo, picnics with friends.  But because I was gone all day I knew I had to put together a full childcare schedule.  I couldn’t leave a 6 year old home alone all day and I couldn’t call into work and tell them I forgot to get a babysitter.  So a big wall calendar went up and was filled with camps, grandma, cousins, friends and neighbors.  She knew what to expect each day and with a mix of babysitters at home and days out of the house my favorite extrovert was never bored.

The past couple summers I have been blessed with work that has given me a much more flexible schedule working largely from home.  While this schedule has alleviated a lot of the stress we experienced when I was out of the house all day, it also creates a false sense that maybe I don’t need to worry about child care as much.  Or more to the point, I forget I need to plan for my daughter.  Until the day I realize she has watched Netflix for 3 days straight, I need to go do something and I have no plan for her!

I am realizing how vital a good childcare plan is to the success of working parents.  Both my husband and I are blessed with really flexible schedules, it has its pros and cons but it has worked well for us.  However, on days where there is no childcare plan my stress level goes through the roof and every other problem in my life comes tumbling out along with it.  Total break down.

That is what happened this week.  It was Monday.  Monday’s are my favorite day of the week.  I have contemplated a plan of attack over the weekend and on Monday I am ready to get organized, accomplish tasks and in general take over the world.  By Friday I am usually dragging but on Monday I can always make it happen.  Except this Monday on my way out the door I realized I had no plan for Isabelle.  My husband, who had been around for the past couple weeks was starting a job that would have him out of the house for the next several weeks and our teen-aged son was working all day.  I made some calls, found nobody available and ended up bringing my daughter into the office for a hour to get a couple things done.  Nobody minded but I didn’t feel like I could give the projects the attention I needed to.

Not only did this cause me stress but it also caused her stress and when she is stressed I am even more stressed.  It is not a good cycle.  She likes to know what is going to happen with her.  Where she is going to go, what we are going to do.  I actually made the decision to bring her to my office while we were out picking up lunch, the fact that she didn’t know ahead and hadn’t packed the right electronics for an hour at my office just about ended the day for me right there.  I managed to talk her off the ledge, even though I was emotionally climbing out on it to do so, and we got through the day.

Once I got home…break. down.  It was a day in which I felt like both a bad mom and a bad worker.  Success nowhere.  After a reassuring pep talk from my husband I made a plan for the rest of the week and have felt very successful as both a mom and worker the past couple days.

This weekend I will be re-installing the big wall calendar.  Camps, grandmas, cousins and neighbors will all be scheduled and added.

I really am starting to like working and am really enjoying what I am doing right now.  But first I am a wife, mom and homemaker.  When those 3 things are not running smoothly my ability to enjoy and be successful at work is compromised.

What I learned this week is that because of my years at home I tend to want to skip the daycare while I am working from home thinking somehow that makes it more like I am a homemaker again.  But what happens is that rather than feeling more connected to my family I feel more like I am failing both my family and my job.  Creating an environment and putting together a plan that makes my daughter feel safe while I can concentrate on my work actually ends up giving me more time to spend with my family than when I just react to the day to day needs.