Why we decided to put our four-month-old child into daycare

Last Wednesday was a big day. I packed Alex into his car seat, drove across town and introduced him to a woman who would be responsible for him for the next eight hours.

Alex went to daycare.

Getting some work done during tummy time.

Getting some work done during tummy time.

Actually, he went to a home care children’s learning centre, but my point is that we both started the beginning of a new journey. At not even four months of age, I “handed” Alex over to someone else.

It was a weird day. I felt guilt. I felt sad. But I also felt relieved.

More than two years ago, my husband gave me his complete support for me to launch my own freelance writing business. Part of the attraction was that I could stay at home with our not-yet-born children. The downside to working for yourself is that it doesn’t come with EI benefits, so we weren’t granted any money to afford me a maternity leave. We saved enough money to allow me to take six months off with our first child. But, as you small business owners know, you can’t just shut down your business.

I returned to work with two clients in mid-January. Alex was five weeks old. During naps and after bedtime, I’d try my best to get work done, all while trying to figure out what the shart I was doing as a parent.

I was struggling to balance it all out.

We had planned to put Alex in daycare come summertime, but we started it a bit earlier to get him used to it and to give me the opportunity to get a full day of work in once a week.

Getting Rid of the Guilt

Last week while out at a work function, someone approached me and asked me about my baby’s whereabouts. When I told this person that Alex was at daycare, they scrunched their face and asked, “isn’t he, like, three months?”

Thanks for making me feel like an icehole (Johnny Dangerously, anyone?).

I’ve dealt with the guilt and have decided to move on. Here’s why: While it sucks letting my son go so early, I’ll only ever have to put him in three days a week until he heads off to kindergarten. Short-term pain for long-term gain.

And honestly? I actually liked using my brain in a different way with no interruptions and I love my work.

So how’d the first day go?

Alex was a champ. And actually, I think I was a champ, too.

Although, when I drove away, I was teary. So I did what any normal human being would do when they’re upset: I got McDonald’s breakfast.

After wolfing down my Egg McMuffin, I got so much work done and felt like a better mom for it. I got a break from mommy brain and it allowed me to give my full attention to Alex when we were home together. Also, I got the chance to power clean the house, which I did in a half hour. That’s unheard of these days.

Each mom has a different experience and opportunity when it comes to their maternity leave. Some can take up to a year off and never want to return to work, while others are jonesing to get back to it. Regardless of your scenario, just remember you’re doing what’s best for your circumstance, for you, and for your little one. My biggest lesson is to embrace the time you do have together.

I’m still struggling to find the proper balance between work and motherhood, but I’ve been told by many moms that guilt will continue until I retire and when, I assume, Alex is 30 and living in our basement.

*

How did your child’s first day of daycare go for you?

Was maternity leave blissful or were you craving a work schedule?

How much did you judge me when I said I got McDonald’s breakfast?

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8 thoughts on “Why we decided to put our four-month-old child into daycare

  1. Being at home with my daughter is the busiest job I have ever had. I love being at home with her but it is so hard to maintain the immaculate house that I like to have, do stuff for me so I feel good and don’t look like a slob and maintain a relationship with my husband. Finding balance as a new mom has been a daily challenge; sometimes baby wins and sometimes I get some much needed “me time”. I often wonder if our significant others could keep up our pace?!
    Some of my mom friends are itching to get back to work early (one of them goes back next week and her son is almost 11 months old) and other mom friends never want to return to work (I am secretly hoping that they can be our child care provider!). I do think that people who make comments forget that not everyone receives a full year maternity leave; company top up and EI. I just stopped receiving the top up and am now on EI, which is hardly anything! We did plan ahead though.
    Going back to work is definitely different for every mom. Regardless, I’m sure that we do/will feel a little guilt until we settle into the new norm. Good luck Cathy and I’m sure Alex is enjoying a change of scenery – good for you and good for him 🙂

  2. “I’ll only ever have to put him in three days a week until he heads off to kindergarten.” – You’re right, you might be feeling the pain now, but that sounds enviable for the long term.

  3. I’ve been at the self-employed-WAHM thing for 11 years now and I have two words for you: Balance Schmalance. You find a way that works. Sometimes it doesn’t work well, but other times it’s super good. (You might say that for self-employment in general without even considering the mom thing.) Anyway, you’ll be great! And Alex is adorable. 🙂

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