Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Work, Home, and Family - Childcare and School

Yes, I've been missing for a few days courtesy of the flu! Ugh. Doesn't it seem that that's always the way it is? And right at the beginning of another semester too - go figure! :)

Today I'm writing on a rather touchy subject - childcare and/or schooling for children when Mom is working outside the home.

Why? Because I'm often asked about the 'guilt' I have about working outside of my home and leaving my children in the care of another.

My short answer to this is that the only time I have felt guilty about not being there was when I came back from class to find a sticky note stuck to my computer screen saying that my daughter had been taken to the ER. Do you know who was watching her at the time? My husband.

She had fallen down the stairs and broken her ankle. Poor kid. She was fine after getting it treated and a cast applied and John did a perfectly fine job taking her and Buddy to the hospital, etc. Was I irritated that I had just gotten a sticky note from my colleagues? Yes (to put it mildly).

Why don't I feel guilty leaving my children with someone?

Partly because they're not in childcare that terribly long each day - about 6-6 1/2 hours. John goes in early, so he gets off early. I drop them off about 730pm and he picks them about 230/3pm. They get an hour/hour and half nap while they're there in the afternoons so that means they get only about 5-5 1/2 hours of interactions with someone else.

Partly because between John and I we have enough time off and flexibility in our schedules that we can care for them at home on the days our daycare lady is not available.

Partly because there are children of all ages (infant through college age) that our children get to interact with on a daily basis. Yes, during the school year they are the "older" kids there until roughly the time John picks them up. On holidays and during school breaks they have the older siblings and our daycare lady's own children (ages 9 to adult) who are there as well. I really like that part!

Partly because they are at pre-school each Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9am-Noon.

The biggest reason I don't have guilt?

Well, there are two.

First, I am doing what God has called me to do. And I trust that He will provide me with the appropriate childcare for my children while I do it. If this means that I work evenings and weekends while caring for my children during the day, then that's what I would do. If it means working from home, I would to that. God provided by literally dropping this dear woman who watches our children into our laps, so to speak, when we were quite sure I would be staying home full time - and I was concerned about that given what we believed God had called me to in our life. We are incredibly blessed to have our daycare lady and feel that God placed her in our lives for this season.

Second, and this ties into the first. I trust the person I leave my children with. I would never, ever leave my children with someone I don't trust. We had toured and seen many places that had openings but I would have never left my children there for a variety of reasons. This woman shares our spiritual beliefs, and teaches the children basic social interaction skills and manners. We work together. She immediately lets us know if something is wrong or if there is something going on or if she has any questions. We do the same. It works wonderfully well. I do this when we call a sitter to our house for the evening too - I need to trust them completely with the children before I will call them to come. Yes, 'trust' means different things in different contexts, but trusting your gut feeling is important and if I'm not comfortable or if John isn't comfortable, no way!

We're now starting to look for schooling options for our children. While we don't have to decide immediately, it's always good to know what our options are. I know I won't pick a situation where I don't feel comfortable or trust the school to be honest with me. I need to feel comfortable with the teacher(s).

I think that as we follow what God wants us to do and where He wants us to be, we need to remember that He will provide the right solutions in His time - not ours. I'll write more on that trust issue next week, but for now, that's my two cents!

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Thanks,
Lea