The best advice I never took: keep your son in daycare for a few days a week while you are on maternity leave.
It was advice that my cousin gave me, and I wish I had listened to her. When I went off work, my husband and I had made the decision that I would take the new 18 month Maternity leave, and although I wouldn’t be taking in as much money, we figured it would even out because we would be saving on childcare for two children for the extra 6 months I would be off work.
It’s been a long time coming, but I have finally decided to put my 3-year old son Linden in daycare a few times a week. It has been a very emotional decision for me and I feel the sadness welling up as I write this.
I find no matter which decision I make, the dreaded mom guilt takes over. I feel guilty thinking about putting him in daycare because I should want to have him with me all the time. If I keep him at home with me, I have mom guilt about the fact that I don’t take him out every day, and that he often ends up in front of the TV in order for me to get things done. Sometimes, it just seems like I can’t win.
The other day I was sharing my concerns with my husband, and he said “if you asked Linden what he would want to do if he could do anything in the whole wide world, what would he say? Play. His answer would always be ‘play.’ And by putting him in daycare, he will get an opportunity to do exactly what makes him happy.” Sometimes my husband is really smart.
Lucia will be one year old in a week. I look back on her first year and I feel like I missed out on a lot. Having to look after a 3-year-old and an infant at the same time, I often had no choice but to gear my attention towards Linden. I missed out on so many baby snuggles, so many quiet mornings bonding with my newborn. I can’t change the past, but I can allow myself a few days a week for just the two of us to have some special time together.
I have also been feeling very overwhelmed with taking care of two kids pretty much all by myself Monday – Friday, along with taking care of the house and trying to find small pockets of time for myself. I get frustrated very easily with Linden and I’m finding our quality time lacking because it often ends up just me trying to keep him busy while I get household chores done. I hope, that by having him in daycare, it will give me a chance to breathe, get things done on days when he is not here, and be able to actually spend our days together doing things that we will both enjoy.
He has been quite attached to me lately, and I feel that giving him some structured activities and free play with friends his own age will be so beneficial to him. He has so much energy and most days I just can’t keep up! I hope and pray I am making the right decision for him, and it will be an opportunity to give each of us a little bit more of what we need.
Please let me know if you’ve gone through something similar and how it worked out for you!