Friday was a long day. I got in early to school, set up a presentation, and worked all day providing professional development for the faculty at my school. After that, I stuck around to work on straightening out the recycling there, as well. The whole week, in fact, has been pretty demanding for both my wife and me. On top of that, the kids were ill earlier in the week, and Halloween happened. While fun, that is not a peaceful time. Needless to say, I was totally wiped by the time I got home.
I arrived to find our own personal superhero in the kitchen directing my kids to help her cook dinner. Wow. Our nanny not only was taking on dinner prep, but she had come in early to collect my daughter from school. It is so nice to have that extra set of hands around to catch the pieces that my wife and I have a hard time with sometimes.
Our babysitting co-op had a get together today. We hosted it, so we pushed the dining room table aside, piled food on it, and watched as our house filled up with adults and kids. It was a really nice time, and many of the new families seem very plugged into the group already. Of course we cleaned and straightened before they came, cleaned and straightened afterwards, and are still moving stuff back out of the rooms where we shoved it. However, the net result is a cleaner and neater house than before it all happened. What a nice extra benefit.
With all of the drama over, hopefully, we think we have settled on a really good person to pick up our son from preschool and to take our daughter after school on Thursdays and Fridays. It all seems settled, but with the recent non-response from the woman we thought we lined up, I really want to see this one start. All props to my wife for handling the details on this.
With the start of the school year, my wife and I have a period of about two weeks that we have professional duties, but our kids are still at home. Previously, my mom has been able to come out and help us through that transition, but this time we had to find a care provider to pick up the hours. We found a really great woman who has been terrific with the kids. Separately, we need someone who can pick up my son from preschool and manage the end of the day until I can get back home from work. We (and by we, I mean my wife) had lined that up, but when checking to see if everything was alright, we got no answer. We are now scrambling to find someone, and the bulk of the work falls on my wife’s shoulders because of her more flexible schedule. Unfortunately, this takes away from her classwork and sanity. I really hope this resolves soon for everyone’s sake.
Today we had a get together for our babysitting co-op. It was a small but nice gathering. We even pulled a new family in. I started chatting with a guy there with his daughters thinking he was already part of the group. He wasn’t but seemed really nice and had kids about the same ages as ours. This is community.
Nanny shares have been very good to us. We have found wonderful families and caregivers to provide a nurturing and developmentally appropriate social environment for both children. My daughter had several different nannies and families, and my son has, too. On Wednesday, that era came to a close. Our nanny share finished, and next year he will be in preschool. There will be need for some childcare, but the regularly-scheduled, full-day, in-home care is probably finished.
I am sure I will get better perspective over time, but here are my thoughts on nanny shares. They are certainly cost effective. They provide a regular playmate for socialization at a young age. We were able to find families we enjoyed and shared values with. The nannies, for the most part, were wonderful. The biggest sticking points were communication when there was no contract and then communication issues when there were contracts. Occasionally, there were just times when the nanny, me, my wife, and the other families could not find common ground on an issue, and then we moved on. However, that did not happen often, and the bounce back was pretty quick. Some of the best nannies were able to take the kids out on the bus or T at the drop of a hat and had amazing flexibility to meet our scheduling needs.
We will still need some regular childcare providers, but I think my son’s entrance into school changes the nature of that need. It just feels like the end of one stage of our lives.
On Wednesday, my school held meetings for the teachers and staff and then for parents. During the parent meeting, there was childcare provided for the children of the parents. We were all working together to figure out how to have students reenter school on Thursday after the tragedy on Monday. My school is a mere block from the Boston Marathon finish line. Most of the families and many faculty live nearby, and their neighborhood is filled with media trucks, reporters, cameras, and law enforcement. On my way to school I saw many soldiers toting automatic weapons and rows of police barricades. This is a difficult environment for students to reenter school. Though no plan is perfect and all of the members of the staff are in different places with their process, I think the school is in a good place to move forward. I am warmed by the caring and thoughtfulness that was on display Wednesday as we worked together.
My daughter is on break right now, and so we have not had to deal with informing her of the incident. She saw my reaction to the Facebook check-ins and the subsequent information I gathered on the situation as it happened. I let her know that there was an accident near my school and that some people were hurt and that some people were helping out. Before Monday, though, my wife and I will need to fill her in on more details. There will be students in her class who have had unfiltered or only partially filtered access to media and know in detail what happened. We want to send her to school with the information and tools she needs to process this and be healthy.
Both my wife and I are worn out. Travel followed by family visit followed by extended children’s illnesses and the lack of sleep that comes with each of those has just pushed us to that edge that parents get to now and then. Work stress adds to the pile. My wife is far more productive under stress. She buckles down and works hard. I tend to try to hole up in a cave, but that option is rarely available. Neither of us have had a chance to regain equilibrium.
As my wife lay napping upstairs on Sunday, I turned on the Tivo recording of a playoff football game. This is not something I normally show the kids. We normally don’t have them watch screens unless ill, so their screen watching has been much higher for the last few days than normal. One could make the argument that football is like nature shows, but it really isn’t. At least I am fast forwarding through commercials. I am standing at the boundary of values and sanity.
No Blue Meanies have frozen our family, but my wife boarded a plane on Wednesday for places Midwestern. She will return Friday after the kids are asleep, so I am soloing three nights of routines. The first night went well; however there was no furniture building as there has been for the last few nights. I am making a dent in the pile of Ikea furniture I brought home, and our office is slowly transforming.
It is always hard to refrain from dumping the kids back on a returning partner even though I know the time away was not a vacation.
For those of you with kids and a partner, how long was it before you went out together to see a movie after your first child? Weeks, months, years?
Friday night, I got to be the babysitter for a couple in our babysitting co-op while they went out for their first movie since birth. They had been out to other things, but that first movie is a big step. I remember it being big, but I have no clue how long it took us to go to a movie or what it was. Child number two erased all of those precious details.