March 10, 2009


I've been cripplingly unable to decide what to do for months now. The problem is that what I want and what I want are two different things. No that's not a typo. I want to be able to do a good job at work and continue to provide the best I can for our little family, to make the most of the incredible opportunity I have with my job, and to not feel like I'm losing my mind or failing at everything because Piper is at home with me. But I also want to continue to enjoy my days with her, playing outside when it's nice, reading books, taking her out and seeing her smile and say Hi to everyone, enjoying her hearty giggle all throughout the day.

Piper had a stay at home day until she was 10 months old and it was great. I work from home and my hours vary enormously so there were days when I could spend the whole day with them and days when daddy was on duty (and pulling his hair out) all day. At 14 months I took her out of day care when she got on the one-nap/day schedule. With the economy tanking I wasn't sure how busy I'd be and I could easily get my then-current workload done during her 2-3 hour nap, with a little catching up after bedtime. J is often able to "work from home" if I've got really important meetings.

But lately life has been crazy. Not being available in the office all morning is taking a toll with my boss. I'm getting busier and I'm soon going to need to be much more available for phone calls for an upcoming project. I'm also hitting the super-tired stage of early pregnancy when I'd rather be napping through Piper's naptime than working. I also think she would benefit from some time with other kids. And a big concern I have is that when (fingers crossed, can you believe I'm talking this way?) the next baby arrives, I want Piper to already be well established in her own routine so she's not being sent off someplace at the same time her little sibling arrives. I also assume this sibling will have to go right to daycare, at least part time, since he/she won't have the luxury of a stay at home dad. Heartbreaking.

I think I've decided against having a part time sitter/nanny because I really do think time with other kids would be great for her, and also because of her penchant for banging on my office door whenever she can't have my attention. I've talked to a center nearby and really like them. Piper is going for a trial day on Thursday. I had thought I'd send her part time, just mornings, then pick her up for lunch and a nap at home. But now I'm thinking maybe instead of five half days, we'll do three full days (I really only need help Monday-Wednesday). That will give me some flexibility if I have work commitments later in the day but I can always pick her up after lunch if I want to. I just don't know. I feel like we can make it work keeping her at home, but at a certain cost to my business and my sanity. On the other hand, I absolutely hate the idea of spending money to not have her here.

The problem is that my assessment of the trade-off fluctuates every day with my fluctuating workload. Today I'm all caught up in the office and had the best giggle fit I can remember so it seems like a no-brainer to just keep her at home. Someday very soon I'll be drowning in lapsed commitments and kicking myself for not finding a solution.


niobe said...

It's hard. Until my older son was four, I worked at home. Ultimately, I made the decision to put him in 3/4 time daycare -- which, in retrospect worked out really, really well. But, at the time, I really couldn't decide what the right thing to do was.

I'm sure you'll find the balance that works for you and your family.

Furrow said...

We just started Zo in part-time (very part-time)daycare, though more for fun than necessity. However, I had all kinds of questions about what would be the best situation, and doubts about several options I found. Finally, after thinking and thinking, the right thing just fell into my lap.

I hesitate to sound all touchy-feely new-agey, but just keep putting your intentions out there, and hopefully the right solution will come to you.

Anonymous said...

It sounds to me like part time day care for Piper is the best of both worlds. She will get interaction and socialization with other children her age, yet, the majority of her time will be at home. You will have the opportunity to get some work done and the flexibility to do what you need to do.

As long as it isn't going to set you back a huge amount to have her in daycare 3 days a week, it really will be good for both of you. And if you are missing her and things aren't so busy with work, you go pick her up.

I know it is a hard decision to make. Figuring out the right decision is tough, but I don't think you are too far off.

Lorraine said...

I think it always ends up being that you somehow keep trying until you find the situation that's right for you. That said, I think that what pushed us into half-day everyday preschool was that none of the other kids did every other day.

It's hard to be the one kid that has an oddball schedule, the attachments that the kids make depend on the consistencies in the schedule - I think if a group of kids are on a MWF plan, then it would have been fine. As it was, my daughter found a best friend at two and those little girls really loved to see each other every day. They go to different schools now, but are still very close.

So nice that you like the center close to you!

Sara said...

That's a hard decision. I'm impressed that you are able to work at home with her normally. I haven't been able to work at home with Eggbert since she learned to walk. She just won't give me a moment of peace (not that I mind!)

Good luck figuring out what's best for you.

Hopeful Mother said...

I understand your worries & concerns. Kaiser and I share taking care of the boys at home (he does most mornings and Fri. and I do nights) - and - they are in a home-based daycare about 25 hours/week otherwise. It is a good solution for us currently.

I work from home 2 days a week which allows me time at Alex's therapies, but I take them to daycare at 11:30 because there is no way I could work at home with both of them there. Kaiser works away from home (teaches) Mon-Thurs 12-7.

I understand your wants to "have it ALL." But I also completely understand what you mean about fluctuating needs... one week might be crazy at work and the next is quiet, so it's hard to know which solution is going to be the best for you *most* of the time.

I wish you the best in making this decision - and know that you are not stuck in it if you try it for a while and it doesn't work.

Red said...

It is a tough decision. I have changed from work from home to office work part time because it means I get adult interaction, but a bonus is that it doesn't feel silly to bring Champ to daycare when I am actually away from home.

I think part time daycare does sound like the best of both worlds though. Anything that can balance both of your wants would be good. Plus when the new baby comes along, it would be good for her to already have a routine at daycare.

Rachel Inbar said...

I understand your dilemma...

I kept all but Hadas home until 18 months, but I actually think I paid a price for it, since I ended up with no time for myself...

Working from home with a baby means I'm always stressed about finding time to do the things I have to do. Ohad helps me a lot, by taking Yirmi so I can work, but it still doesn't give me any 'me' time.

In some ways, I'm waiting for September, when he'll start daycare and I can work more and hopefully find some time to do other things as well.

Anonymous said...

I never put my kids in daycare, but as soon as Little R was old enough for preschool I put him in two mornings per week. That made a huge difference! The socialization is fantastic for him and I like that he's got a different environment in which to try new things and great stories to tell at the end of it all.

But I don't think your dilemma is 'whether' to put Pip into daycare, rather 'when'. If you're concerned about shuffling her schedule, can you imagine ahead to a time after the new baby's arrival and what a day might look like at that point? Will you need to nap with the baby because of late-night feedings? Will you quickly return to work and need uninterrupted chunks of time during the day for that? Will you be able to get Piper out of the house on time five mornings a week?

Only you know what will work for your family, but don't pressure yourself to figure it all out now, because you do still have a bit of time to mull it over.

mekate said...

oh lord-- the I want vs the I want is So familiar-- I just wanted to say I feel for you and wish you all the best as you decide what is best for you--
thinking of you and sending you my gratitude for being so great with me these past few months. THANK YOU Sarah- it has meant the world to me.

Queila said...

First of all, congratulations on your pregnancy. Lots of people that had their first ones at the same time I did (nov. 2007) are already heading for baby #2. I am starting to feel left out. Not enough to be tempted though. :)

My daughter goes to day care part time and I REALLY believe it does wonders for her and for myself. She is very social and is allways learning one thing or two. I know many times we tend to believe that we are the only ones really able to take good care of our own kids but I am learning to let go a bit and it feels good. :)


Sticky Bun said...

It's such a tough call, and I don't think there's any one right answer. I second guess every decision we make regarding childcare at least once a day.

I think now that the stickies are 1 (?!?!?), we're going to go the daycare route. I actually think at this age there's a lot positive they can get out of it that we couldn't necessarily recreate at home.

It's such a tough call, though. It sounds like you're decision is coming into focus, though, and that you'll settle on something that will work for you. :-)

Kate said...

This is a tough one, Sarah, and I don’t envy your position of having to choose when none of the choices fit exactly what you want. And perhaps I am not the one to be offering any advice on this because I am FAR from being content with the work/life balance in my life. That being said, I am going to chime on this based on my experience. “I hate the idea of spending money to not have her here”--I can so much relate to this statement. But, as you said, she would benefit from spending time with other kids--so you can look at this as not spending money to send her away, but spending money to help her develop her social skills and independence. And having her away from the house will give you solid, uninterrupted time to focus on your work, so when you pick her up from daycare, you are able to focus just on her instead of juggling both (which I absolutely hate). I think the plan of having her do three full days at the center, with an option of you picking her up earlier on days you are not busy, sounds like a really reasonable solution. Like you said, this will give you enough flexibility in the afternoon, even when it comes to non-work-related stuff (like, say, a doctor’s appointment).

Another thing is, most centers are pretty flexible with occasional drop-ins--say, Piper goes to the center Monday through Wednesday, but you find out that you have an important meeting on Friday morning--I would bet that the center would let you drop her off for two hours on Friday so that you can make your meeting.

Once she is used to the center and her teachers, you can adjust her schedule without much trouble for her. So when the baby comes, if you find that you’d rather have mornings for just you and the baby to help you rest, then you can adjust Piper’s schedule to five half-days instead of three full days--and I don’t think she will notice much difference.

Lastly, I know you know this, but I have to point it out anyway: more kids = more germs. It’s inevitable. So when she starts at the daycare, you can expect her to be sick more often--and having her home for two days will actually help because I think she will miss fewer days at school that way. It’s going to suck for a while, but we are heading into spring, so that works in your favor.

Take it for what it’s worth, from a woman who has unsuccessful in finding work/life balance for the last 5+ years. I know you will make the best decision for your family.