It’s All In The Perspective
“She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” (Proverbs 31:27)
In recent days, there has been a big push for universal daycare in Canada. As a home daycare provider, I certainly understand the underlying issues. It can’t be easy to devote oneself to a workplace when thinking of the welfare and well-being of one’s child throughout the day. In this context, I have often wondered how working away from home families do it. It’s hard enough for me to be a stay at home working mom. Although I don’t want to personally weigh in on the emerging national debate, it is my hope that my own decision to watch children in my home will provide some insights into alternative child care giving options that can be equally beneficial to a child’s growth. Perhaps, in this context, some of the parents pushing for a taxpayer funded national universal daycare program should have to spend at least one week in both the life of a home daycare provider as well as an institutionalized child care setting. In so doing, it might become apparent that there are excellent caregivers (and some not so much) in both environments.
This is not to suggest that there should not be severe consequences in isolated cases whereby someone has abused the privilege of watching children. Undoubtedly, there should be. However, what it does mean — I believe — is that there are many more women looking after children in their homes who do so out of love. These women often work more hours than a regular work week for less pay than minimum wage scales and yet do so because they believe that caring for children is a worthy life-long vocation. Indeed, in many cases, these women sacrifice viable career options and workplace benefits because they love being with children.
It is for this reason that I publicly share a typical week in my household. It is my hope that working mothers can be comforted in the knowledge that children in the majority of home daycare environments can be equally well-cared for, while these same youngsters similarly learn new age appropriate skills in an environment similar to their own home.
Normal for me means getting up between 5:30 and 6. I do 45 minutes on the treadmill. Shower. Wake up my son (my hubby leaves for work at 5, so I don’t have to worry about him). Get dressed, do my hair/makeup. Go downstairs and let the dogs out to pee. By now it is around 7. Then I make lunch for my son’s school bag and a scrumptious breakfast. I make sure my son has done his chores (feed the animals, unload the dishwasher, brush his teeth, get his school stuff ready etc) before my first children arrive around 7:30 (unless it is Friday and then it’s 6:35).
At 7:39, it’s time to watch for the bus. I usually have a couple of kids dropped off just in time to catch the bus so out I go — me and the kids, both dogs and my son. Waiting for the bus can take anywhere from a few minutes or up to 15 minutes, depending on which kids I have waiting for which bus. By 8, it’s time to get out the Cheerios and juice so I can sit for a few minutes. lol — I might even try to get breakfast in as well while checking my email and Facebook before the next round of children arrive at 8:15.
When each and every child is accounted for — meaning they have all arrived — the kids and I decide what we will make for lunch. We also decide what we are going to bake that day. Yesterday, we made banana bread and chocolate chip cookies Young children enjoy learning new baking skills while creating their own version of grown-up delights. We then play until 10 — allowing these same children time and space to create and imagine their own story-lines. Early childhood studies conclude that creative playtime is a necessary component of children’s well-being. Then I make snacks and while they eat, I attempt to clean the kitchen. Throughout, we are chatting about every imaginable topic. Some stories have an element of truth to them. Other tales evolve from vivid imaginations. All the while, I am cleaning up after them (a pointless effort I know), but I have discovered that it’s easier to make lunch if the house is not a full blown disaster zone.
I start lunch around 11/11:30 depending on what we are having. If it’s a pizza day, then I start rolling and chopping and grating all the ingredients once the children have finished their morning snack. Now food prep — regardless of the outcome — usually comes with little helpers. I have no doubt that each and every one of them will all be great cooks one day BUT it’s really tough to cook with five toddlers helping. Think flour EVERYWHERE. Imagine more toppings being eaten before the pizza goes in the oven. Still, I usually have the servings on their plates for 12 noon. Together, the kids then eat until they are finished.
In past years, nap time was next. Sigh, not anymore. Now I will only have a napper if I’m lucky So after lunch, it’s supposed to be quiet time (not really) while I try to clean up a little. At this point, I might get a few minutes to sit, depending on whether my munchkins have any real interest in being quiet. Each day is different in this regard so I adapt. By 2, the kids are ready for a healthy snack so once again we make snacks. Inevitably, this means another sink full of plates and cups, cleaning up spills, etc. Outdoor time has been known to bring its own assortment of challenges. Then the bus comes and snack time is repeated all over again for an older crowd.
Shortly after, parents arrive and my kids start leaving. Usually, by 5:30 there are only a couple of children left. This is when I begin making supper for my own boys. Note that my boys like their supper so something easy from a box would be a rare occurrence. Tonight, it was shake and bake pork chops, with butter cream noodles and corn. Of course, I had kids late tonight so it was a very late supper on the home front The evenings consist of cleaning up for the day, washing dishes, feeding the animals, folding laundry — unless we have hockey, navy league, or some other function to be at and then nothing gets done except maybe supper. By nine, we are usually in bed. My son and I like our sleep. My husband is normally wandering the house around 3 am (gross, I know) which is why, usually by 10 the whole house is asleep … people, dogs, cats are all sound asleep.
Now, I know that if I worked away from home, I wouldn’t clean my house three times a day. Instead, I would leave the house in the morning — still messy from the morning rush out the door — and come home to a house that needed cleaned before I could start supper. Chances are it would be six or later (depending on the commute) before I even started supper, so on hockey or navy league nights, it would probably mean dinner on the run. For this reason alone, I believe all the working parents out there deserve sooooo much credit. In fact, if you have more than one kid, you deserve a medal!!!! In fact, to all the moms who work outside the home … God bless you for everything you do 🙂
But I don’t work outside the home. Instead, I made a decision long ago to help working mothers achieve their career goals by raising their most precious commodity — their children — so that they too can grow to become what God intended them to be. Therefore, in my opinion, the choice of day care environments, as suggested by national universal day care advocates, should not be an either/or but rather an informed decision by working parents that includes a family home. Thankfully, there are conclusive child care studies that support this same conclusion so for the near future, in-home daycare is still a viable option. At the end of the day, it’s all about perspective.