Childcare is crucial in my life. I love my career and actively choose to work at a non-parenting job during the day. Moving to Charlotte would have been the perfect time to transition to a full time mom position–but it wasn’t even on the table. I think I am a better mom when I get this need met, which is my personal preference. And I use childcare as a tool to help me create work/life balance.
But finding the sweet spot for who will take care of our children while we work is THE most important decision we make as a family. I will save my thoughts on parental leave in this country for another post, and just focus on how I work within my situation, which included a maternity leave of 4 months for George and 2.5 months for Henry.
George stayed home with Clay until he was 9 months, then had a nanny, then went to Sunshine Bilingual Daycare when he was 13 months.
Henry was in a nanny share with our across the street neighbors’ baby (she is one week older than Henry) until he was about 5 months, and then he started at Sunshine, too.
We adored Sunshine. Its checked all of my boxes–home like environment, small, run by two sweet sisters. Walking distance from our house. Sunshine was our family. The other kids, their families, Nubia and Sulma was our little community. Perfect balance between a nanny and daycare center (in terms of cost and environment).
Leaving Sunshine to move to Charlotte was incredibly difficult. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to replicate that situation as much as I wanted to! I tossed and turned, cried and gnashed my teeth. But, I turned again to my trusted Care.com (not an affiliate link, but I have hired three nannies and many sitters through them). We found a wonderful nanny who is with my boys everyday. And we all love her. I love the kids being at home all day (hearing them does not distract me) and it is SO flexible.
My tips for using childcare to increase work/life balance:
- Use childcare as a tool to reach your parenting goals. Want your kids to have lots of play time? You can find that. More structured time? That option is out there, too.
- Think about the areas where you want flexibility. If you want your kids out of the house all day so you can have them closer to the office or be able to have quiet at home, a full time center option may work.
- Think about the areas where you want control. If you want to decide how your kids eat, for example, then you might want to keep them home with a nanny.
While cost and logistics often make the decision for us as parents, these tips are still a good way to frame your search. When I control what is important to me (non-religious education, choice of activities, boys together) and have flexibility (longer/shorter hours as I need them, kids in the house if I want to see them) it creates a sense of balance for me.
But, we can never have it all. I have to compromise on several areas–cost, lack of structure, limited education tools, lack of peers to interact with without making a conscious effort. Thus, the term balance. I have to choose my priorities and make peace with what I can’t have. And truly, all parents face this, whether they need childcare or not.
In my next post, childcare part 2, I will discuss schooling–and what I ended up going with for my boys.