May 02, 2013
Hi there, this is a post about day care. You can judge me a little bit, if you like, for being a stay at home mum who sends her walking talking child off to day care one day a week. I judge me a little too. But I still do it and have been since Beatie was born. There were a bunch of reasons I wanted to give it a try, a really big one was that I wanted Violet to spend more time with kids her age and people whose job it is to create exciting new activities to do with those kids, since I anticipated being very tired and boring when the newborn came along. Another reason was that I noticed the language differences between Violet and her friends with working parents who spent time at day care during work hours. Theirs was much more advanced. Yet another reason was that Violet's separation anxiety was becoming a really big thing. Like, if a friend was over and we were playing out in the courtyard I couldn't turn towards the house and make to walk there without Violet freaking out with tears and throwing herself at my legs. I wanted her to learn that I could leave but I'd always come back and it was ok to have fun during the time between those two.
But the really, really biggest reason is that I needed a break. Right or wrong, I just did (do). I could leave the house in the evening (with Beatie) to eat out with a friend if I asked another friend to babysit. But I don't. I feel weird asking friends to watch my kid and even weirder offering to pay friends to watch my kid. She would go to bed and they would do what? Watch tv? Be bored? We have some friends with a girl Violet's age who we swap babysitting with every now and again so we can each have date nights. I go to their house and do just that, watch tv. It's different though because I'm going to get to go out with my love in return. So I enrolled her in day care and every thursday for the last 5 weeks (except the Anzac Day public holiday just gone) we get in the car at 7:45am and drive to day care. As soon as we park out the front Violet starts going "ohhhhh nooooo. BUH BYE" and waving at the centre. But she puts her back pack on and she walks holding my hand into her group's room. She hates the idea that I'm going to leave but she clearly does not hate the fun that she has. The minute I go to leave she clings to me briefly before reaching out for her favourite carer to get a cuddle and it's me that's still thinking about it when I get back in the car. She's already moved on to playing with the baby dolls or pushing her favourite blue police car around the play mat (they tell me). I'm the one wishing I'd held on just a minute longer or wondering whether I should pick her up early that day.
So the first thing I do after I go home and drive Rob to work is take Beatie and myself out to eat. Dear lord, to sit and eat an entire meal without interruption is a glorious thing! I had forgotten all the ways in which having a newborn is like having no child at all. Specifically that if they're sleeping they will do it anywhere and you can do anything around them! I read the paper, read the internet, drink a coffee and eat some food, all of it while it's still hot and Beatie sleeps in the pram. I try not to think about what Violet would say if she were there ("bite! bite? peas? MMMM YUM YUM YUMMMMMMMMYYYYYYYY!"). When I finish I go shopping. Grocery shopping, clothes shopping, shopping for the girls, window shopping it doesn't matter. I can do it and not estimate how many minutes I have before my toddler gets bored and I have to find something (food) to distract her. A luxury!
After that's done I come home and spend some real quality time with Beatie. The kind of time I had the luxury of spending every day with Violet when she was a newborn. The kind of time Beatie deserves, some mummy and me time. Maybe I even have time to finish a house project I've been putting off, like organising Violet's closet (yesterday). Then at 4pm I get in the car and pick her up with a Schleich animal toy in my pocket as a welcome home present and she can't wait to get into my arms. It's the best cuddle of my week. I don't know if it's filling up my me-time tank or getting the chance to miss her that makes it so sweet, but it is the sweetest. Her carers tell me all about what she's been up to for the day, her favourite activities, who she played with, what she said, how much she ate and slept. Then she waves at every one and shouts "buh bye, buh bye! Teeeeeee yaa!" as she pulls me to the car by the hand, the proudest girl ever to be picked up. We learn the name and noise of the animal toy on the way home ('Pow's go "mooooooove", apparently) and when I put her to bed after dinner and playtime I listen through the door because sometimes I can hear her saying quietly "nuh night Jude, nuh night Tine, nuh night Archoo, nuh night Harvey".