Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Crafting the Lives We Want: Getting Creative

A solution to my summer childcare dilemma fell on my lap the other day when a friend of mine (who is a certified 3-6 Montessori teacher) mentioned that she might be interested in watching Henry during the summer. Her daughter is in Henry's class, and they are great friends.
I've been stressing about the situation because it's difficult to find temporary summer care for a 2 year-old (many of the camps are for older children or they don't last the entire summer). It's even more difficult if your whole heart and mind love Montessori. It's even more difficult if you're going to add a new baby to the family in the middle of the summer and want your older son to have as much stability as possible, while simultaneously having no idea when your house is going to be finished and you're going to pick up and move your family to the complete opposite side of town.
I thought about putting Henry back at his old daycare (where he went from 14-18 months-old before his Montessori school started), but it's up by our new house. If we're not living there, it would be a huge hassle to drop him off and pick him up each day.
I've been dragging my feet, however, about searching for a new daycare near our current house because most of the good ones have really long waiting lists. I also didn't know what kind of commitment we would have to sign and whether we could leave without a financial penalty as soon as our house is finished.
When my friend mentioned her potential interest, my heart lept with joy but then deflated a little when I read her message again and realized that she only wanted to do it part-time.
That's when it hit me: There are no rules about how we do things. We can be completely creative and unconventional as we try to piece together the life we want for ourselves and our families.
I suggested that she watch Henry for three days a week (during his normal school hours of 8:15-3:00) and then I sign him up for his old daycare for two days a week. We do this until (if) we move in the middle of the summer. At that point, Henry returns to his old daycare five days a week.
It's the best possible solution given the craziness and uncertainty of our lives right now:
  1. Henry will love going over to his friend's house three days a week. Their home is a Montessori Mecca! It's full of practical life activities, music, gardening, water play, etc.
  2. He will also enjoy the stimulation of his old daycare. Going there twice a week will prepare him to make the transition (if we move during the summer) to full-time. It will be a familiar environment to him (while he's undergoing all the changes that come from having a new baby at home).
  3. Combining in-home care with more institutional care gives us the best of both worlds. I have no doubt that the in-home care will be superior to the institutional care, but we will also benefit from the predictability of the institutional care. If our friend gets sick, for example, we can use the other daycare as a back-up.
  4. Although it will be a pain to drive Henry across town to his old daycare, it will only be two days a week until we move. That's way better than every day!  
I know it seems like a straightforward concept (make things work for you and your family!), but it's a nice reminder for me. When I go back to work full-time away from home, I want us to continue to think creatively about what it should look like so that it best meets our family's needs. For example, Matt and I were talking the other day about how I could go into work early while he gets the boys ready for school and then I could come home with them when school is out and we could spend the afternoons together before Matt gets home and we eat dinner together as a family.
Sometimes it feels overly tricky or complicated to set up these kinds of situations, but if it's what is needed to meet an ever-shifting and growing set of needs, then why not? I want to pursue my professional passions and spend a lot of quality time with my children and have quality time together as a family. I think tweaking our schedules, taking turns, working at different hours, etc. in order to make it work is worth it.

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1 comment:

BB said...

I feel for you, it's hard when you can't take maternity leave. Of course you can combine solutions! You have to. The only way I could do it was with a neighbor and two family members who took my baby part time, and regular daycare for the toddler.

I hope you're emotionally ready. It was much harder than I expected, but I didn't have much choice. Looking back, I would have taken at least some maternity leave, if at all possible.

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