Sunday, August 28, 2011

When Does It Get Easier?


A decision has been made.

I am returning to work in October.

And I feel as if I can't breathe.

Every time I look at my kids, I want to cry. I know this will get easier, but it is hard right now.

Other friends that have returned to work tell me that the first few weeks of transition are hardest, as everyone settles into a new normal, and that it takes a few more weeks to reall get into a rhythm. When we looked at daycares last Friday, one of the directors told me, "Don't worry, all of the moms cry at first. The first few times you drop them off, you will cry, but then it gets easier."

I cried.

Later on in the tour, as we were standing in a hallway, a daddy/son pair walked by, the son appearing to be about Will's age. He was chattering non-stop about his day and seemed perfectly happy. They have obviously been through the transition and have emerged unscathed. So, we will, too.

In any case, for the time being, we won't be leaving the kids at a traditional daycare center. We have decided to accept my friend's offer and Will and Emma will spend their days at her house. She lives across the street from us. We can literally pluck them from their cribs and take them over in their jammies. This is one of my closest friends and Will is very comfortable at her house. I think the transition might be a bit more difficult for Emma, simply because she is at that separation anxiety age, though she is actually very independent even with that. I am a bit concerned about the longevity of the situation, but for now, especially in the beginning when I am traveling, it feels the most comfortable.

So, now, please tell me. . .

When does it get easier?

(Also, for those of you who are working outside of the home, if you care to share any tips on transition, day-to-day advice, coping and scheduling strategies, I would really appreciate it.)


Beth said...

I am happy and sad for you, all at the same time. What a difficult decision you have had to make. I can imagine how gut-wrenching this all must be. I would feel the same!

Personally, it sounds like a great plan to start with to have your friend across the street watch Will & Emma. It feels "safe" for all of you, and it's flexible and you can always change at a later date once you've been working a while if you both agree.

We had family take care of our boys for the first 2 + years of my returns to work after maternity leaves. In hindsight, I wish I would have had clearer expectations and clearer communication between us and my SIL and then us and my BIL, who each watched our boys at different points in time. Not necessarily a written contract of sorts (that would have been too tricky with close relationships), but moreso a daily report card, if you will, of happenings with our kiddos. Also I would have checked in with my SIL more often (monthly? quarterly? I don't know...), regarding "how is this arrangement still working? are there any things in the forseeable future that might cause you to not be able to watch my kids?" (specifically: vacations, taking classes, not wanting to continue this 'business arrangement', etc) - I heard from our MIL not too long ago that apparently SIL was unhappy with watching our boys...complaining only to MIL, not ever telling us. Feelings fester, and can come back to bite in the end. Thankfully, we still have a very good relationship with our SIL, but I can see how it could have ended very differently.
Also, will she take your kids if they are sick? What if she is sick or her kids are - will you send them there still (assuming she is a SAHM, of course). These are all things I had difficulty with. I'm sure you've thought through it all already though :)

It is going to be a huge transition for all of you, yes. But it gets easier with each day that passes. Give yourselves LOTS of time to adjust!

Sending you lots of Mama hugs today!

A New Beginning said...

It is hard. I cried as well. And I don't want to tell you these things to scare you, but give you an idea of what you are heading into.

It was easier for me to take her for a couple of hours at a time in the beginning. That way, I knew when I left, I was only a couple of hours away from picking her back up. After a week, it was much easier.

I think I have heard some daycare people say it takes children a couple of weeks to get used to the new routine.

I think the hardest part is when the kid cries because they don't want you to leave. But I have learned it is worse to give in, than to just go. If it is possible, have the child go to a window to wave to you as you go out. They will eventually figure out that you are coming back to get them. Maybe you could try calling during the day to check on them. My oldest childs teacher even let me talk to my child one day.

Good luck to you. Just remember, it will get easier and you are just a good a momma as you were when you were not working.

HereWeGoAJen said...

I know this was a hard decision for you. I hope the transition is as easy as possible. Much love to you!

A'Dell said...

Okay, I meant to comment on the last post, but, you know, TIME. IT GETS AWAY FROM ME.

Anyway, I hate-hate-hate that crap about "everyone cries!" Is that...supposed to make people feel better? For the record, I did not cry at drop off or pick up the first day back. So, there's that. It's not HORRIBLE AWFUL ARM CUTTING OFF OMGWTFBBQ.

It's just..hard. And you do it, because it needs to be done and you figure it out and just like regular life when you don't work there are parts that are completely sucktacular and parts that are totally awesome. They are just different parts and new parts and unfamiliar parts.

I have SO! MANY! THOUGHTS! on this topic, as you might well imagine, but I will leave them for an email. Specific questions, just tell me!


PS I am excited for you! Change is hard but it's good to remember that nothing is permanent. If it blows? You will find a way out and around and to something that is great. You're a smart person, you'll make it awesome and workable for you.

Anonymous said...

The reality is: some things get easier, some things don't, but don't count out some of the great benefits you will have as a working mom. The ability to talk to grown-ups again. The ability to run an errand after work BY YOURSELF and FAST. The ability to feel like you have the best part of your pre-mommy identity back. And you won't have to worry about money as much!

My son is just a month younger than your son and he is thriving in day care. He's got this whole other life and he loves telling us what he did with his favorite kid in the class. He feels grown-up going off to "school." He is incredibly independent and social. He consistently sleeps longer at day care than at home. It's a puzzle.

My son cried for the first 10 days at drop-off when he went to childcare. Then he stopped. Then he didn't want to leave at the end of the day.

You will never feel 100% about having your kids in childcare. I wish I didn't have to send him, but we can't make it financially without that support and the truth is I could never stay home and maintain my sanity.

You will survive this (and they will too -- your kids will surprise you, I promise)

Christy said...

There certainly are never any easy answers. It is hard, and some days are harder than others. At the beginning of each new school year it's hard to turn over Andy to daycare each day, but after getting so busy with school we settle in to a routine. It gets hard again in December when it seems I drop him off in the dark and pick him up in the dark. My point being, the hard times will come and go.

On another note, we use a home daycare. I knew the woman for several years before Andy came along, as I had her oldest daughter in my class. There was no other choice for me when Andy came along. He is a part of their family, and they are all good friends of ours. Her son was in my class last year, and again this year (I looped up, he didn't flunk!). I love having Andy in a home setting, and he loves playing with the other kids.

When going with home daycare, just make sure you are in agreement on things ahead of time. Our lady even has us sign a contract each year, reminding us of things.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you were able to come to a decision and I hope it gets easier for you soon.

I still remember when my mom went back to work when I was 4 years old (she developed a seizure disorder after I was born and was on disability until it abated enough to return to work). I'd never been with any caregiver other than her and it was rough at first.

Expect that, no matter how good the daycare looked on paper, you might have to switch before you find an arrangement that works for you. My mom originally chose a licensed home daycare that the social worker helping her transition back to the workplace recommended. But she had to switch immediately when I came home and told her about my first day there: "And then Miss Shelby put us all in the backyard and locked the door, but it was okay because the other kids showed me where in the bushes to go potty!" (Which I know sounds bad, but this will not happen to you. I promise!)

And expect setbacks. I remember that I wet my pants for the first week at my new, real daycare center because I was too intimidated to ask to use the restroom! But it became the new normal very quickly and I loved it after that.

alison said...

I'm sorry for the stresses lately. It sounds like you have a great start to a plan though, and how awesome that a job opp. fell into your lap so nicely. (That's how things seem to happen for me too.)

I'm glad you found childcare so quickly too - this is definitely one area you HAVE to go with your gut. It's easy to weed out the bad-bad and the over-the-top-not-for-us but your momma intuition has to tell you where they should be. My only caution about your friend watching them would be to try to get a feel for what she's going to do with them during the day as far as activities go. Obviously she must have a similar take on kiddos as you or you wouldn't be friends. But things like how much tv is ok, and will she do any kind of pre-school-ish things with Will that you may do yourself. And then also, the business side - vacations, payment, what happens when one of you wants out. Just make sure it's all spelled out ahead of time so there's no hard feelings if an issue arises. It's kind of like forming a business partnership in some ways! :)

As far as "doing life" with both of you working. It's hard initially, it does get better. I've been back to work for 2 weeks now, and I finally feel like I'm getting back on my game a bit. I was treading water the first two weeks. You sort of do what you do to get by in the beginning. Just do the necessary (love on your babies in the evenings, eat supper) and fit in the extra (cleaning the house) when you can. I know I've said I'm not cut out to be a SAHM mom, and I still believe that 100%. But that doesn't make leaving my peanuts any easier. And in fact it was harder this time around. But B is learning so. much. at daycare, and J is so well cared for. I don't even worry about them for a minute during the day (but I do miss them of course).

This may sound... shallow, or something, but I will tell you what gets me through when I start to have major guilt about leaving them: Disney World. If one of us stayed home with them, we wouldn't have any extra money whatsoever to do anything fun. So when I'm feeling weepy I remind myself that I work so that we can afford to do fun things. Not that we have any major Disney plans for at least a few more years, but just thinking about those family vacations to come helps take my off my edge. :)

Good luck, momma! You know where to find me if you have questions or need a hug! <3

Searching said...

I'm glad you have your decision, and like you said, you will work on your tape. It will be okay. If this daycare situation doesn't work out, you can try something else. If the work aspect takes too much of your life or is horrible or different from what it had been in the past, quit. Find something else, even something you don't really like. You just do whatever you have to do for YOUR family's health & happiness. You know you will have lots of support & prayers no matter where your road may take you.

Amy said...

you got it!!! congrats!!! call me soon.....

Rachel said...

I'm glad you made a decision and it sounds like you still have some time to prepare, although what a rough way to start by sending you away. Are you sure there's no way to fly your kids down to visit you? Having lugged mine all around the world, I would certainly take the inconvenience of babies in a hotel room over the long separation.

As for advice (since you did ask):
1. Dinnertime is the worst. You're tired, the kids will want to reconnect (often by being physically close) and then there's dinner. We've resorted to Sunday night cooking sprees. Nothing is elegant by Friday night, but I find it's the only way to put a real dinner on the table. We tried to prep one crockpot meal, my husband cooks one meat dish for the freezer, pasta, etc. You'll find a routine.

2. If at all possible, I'd try to find back-up care for your neighbor for one afternoon/morning per week. We use a home daycare which sounds very much like your set-up and at least every other week something comes up for our daycare provider where she needs an hour or two during the week to run errands/take her kids to the doctor/make phone calls. If you can set something up in advance it might be that much easier for the transition and make this daycare a bit more sustainable. Even a responsible high school kid might be able to help out for 2-3 hours one afternoon and give your neighbor the flexibility to run a quick errand, make a phone call, etc.

Anonymous said...

Just take it day by day. You will have some days where you think you can conquer it all and others where you think you're either an awful mother or employee. Both are normal and happen occassionally but it does get easier. I'd say 2-4 weeks will provide you with some major relief in terms of emotions and guilt. For me, once I realize they were ok and HAPPY I didn't worry quite so much.

Good luck--you're going to do fine! I promise! :-)

Laura said...

It's easier for me because it is a family friend who does our daycare. We are lucky as I have to work. I feel better when she tells me all about her friends and how much she played. But there are always times when I think that I should be the one to bring her to playdates. I think that as mothers we always feel guilty about something. Congrats on the job!

Pamala said...

I have no idea how I did it to be honest. I was a SAHM for nearly 5 years and then was thrown into having to work again.
Kaylee had been going to school three days a week so we just went to five days, she was easy and thought nothing of it.
Annabelle hadn't seen a daycare ever. But being so young she transitioned without a problem. She's learned so much where she is so I'm happy with it.
Like I said on the other post I can watch cameras at her daycare so it makes me feel a bit better.
Over time I got over my anger that I was having to work (it wasn't by choice for me) and there are times when I'm happy for the break from the kids, but other days I'm angry.
But the kids seem fine and more than happy.

Adriane said...

Oh, Katie! I've been out of town and just catching up. Congrats on your decision. I'm sure it was extremely hard. The transition will be tough, but like everyone has said, it will get easier. It really will.

I returned to work when the girls were 15 weeks old. It was tough, but we had a split schedule on who would watch the girls.

Monday - in laws
Tuesday - My friend
Wednesday - My friend
Thursday - My friend
Friday - my parents

Since we started out this way, it wasn't as bad for us. However, when my husband's job recently changed we were forced to transition from my friend's house to a preschool/daycare with more encompassing hours. The girls were almost 3 when we did this, and it was extremely tough, even though they had each other. So, now they go three full days/week (MWF)to "school" from 7:30am to 4:45pm and my parents and my inlaws still watch them one day/week.

Honestly, it took them about 12 weeks before they stopped crying when we dropped them off. The first week they both had a tough time and didn't participate in much. This was their first real socialization with groups of other kids. Even though we did gymnastics classes and my friend that kept them had four of her own children, this was a big shock for them. After the first couple of weeks, they cried, but the teachers said that they stopped within a few minutes after we left.

It is heartbreaking to walk away with your children crying. It really is. I kept telling myself that millions of people do this everyday, but it doesn't make it any easier. Since Will and Emma both know your friend, you may not have much of an issue there with them crying (though I'm sure you will, right?) God, I bawled in the parking lot that first week I dropped them off.

With both of you back working "serious" jobs, life will be hectic. Dinner time is the worst for us. If I don't plan ahead, things get ugly. We've had many chicken nugget or turkey sandwich dinners. It's just all I can manage.

I will be thinking about you and your family during this transition. I think it's great that Will and Emma will go to your friend's house. That sound like a great first step. Remember, they will be getting other experiences with your friend that they wouldn't be getting at home. (I tell myself this daily about my girls!)

Hang in there, girl. You're a great Mommy and they will adjust. They really will.