Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Over Scheduled

Children love routine so I cannot figure out why the daycare drop-off is incredibly difficult. The tears shed could fill an ocean. It is not just the goodbye moment either. I have witnessed other parents dealing with the uncontrollable tantrums upon arriving at daycare. The mom losing her patience quickly asking her child what is wrong. I give the empathy smile and make a swift exit. Move along. There is nothing to see.

I know that ours is a good daycare and that the crying does not stem from a bigger problem. Of course children want to be with their parents but even more so I know that my children would prefer to be lounging around the house in their pajamas, playing with their own toys and watching a marathon of cartoons.

Once again I am afraid that in some circumstances I may be spoiling my children. I might be letting them get away with more because I do not have the ability to be with them for most of the day. When it comes right down to it, I know I carry working mom guilt. I am afraid of all the time that I am losing out on that I can never get back. The tears are little confirmation markers that me feel like I am making the wrong choices.

Yet the days when they happily skip away to join their group also leave a hole in my heart. Toddlers are not supposed to be independent. Please don't get me wrong. I do want my children to be well adjusted but I also want them to prefer spending their days with me. I also want myself to be a well adjusted person. After living three decades not as a mother it is hard to morph out of everything else into a full on parenting role.

The weekends are mighty short. The down time I need to regroup and gain strength to carry through another week while I jam pack in family time flies by. Work days are too long. Weekends are too short. Could this be another balancing act in wanting to have it all?

If I pulled them out of daycare and became a stay at home parent, the level of care that they are given would go down. I cannot do the same job that the current teams of workers provide. They have kitchen staff that prepares a variety of healthy lunches and snacks. They have scheduled indoor and outdoor activities. They have a zillion art projects. They have interaction and socialization with children in their age group. I most certainly am not the overachiever that could organize this as a daily occurrence.

Maybe the reason for the crying is because it is human nature to want to spend our time with less structure and more room for relaxation. There are mornings where I have struggled not to burst into tears at the thought of the work load that lies ahead of me. As we are adults we learn to push that feeling aside because there are expectations put on us. Are organized toddler activities pushing our children into the work world too soon?

When we are a family unit I let them have a little too much TV and give in to their requests for treats too often. Does this make them value listlessness? Will my desire to work, make my children lazy? Am I over thinking this because I wish I could spend more time with them? Am I worried about this because that just comes with parenting?

Parents of children in less structured daycares and homecare please let me know if you too experience irrepressible sobbing on many mornings long after you have established a routine.

10 Singing the blues:

Brandie said...

I stay home. We don't have a kitchen staff that prepares a variety of healthy lunches and snacks or scheduled indoor and outdoor activities or a zillion art projects. And some days we don't have interaction and socialization with children in their age group.
And most of the time I'm okay with it. My kids haven't complained about too many jelly and butter sandwiches (on the contrary they still request them on almost a daily basis). And we do enough art projects to satisfy their needs. And we do play with other kids, just not every day.
And for the most part my kids are healthy and happy and this is how we prefer our life.
But like you, but on the other extreme, I freak out and feel like I'm not giving them enough. That maybe they need more variety of foods. That maybe we should do more art projects or plan play dates every single day.
I think the thing is, we all carry guilt - whether it's because we stay home or work. I think most moms wonder if they are doing enough, or the right thing, or the best thing, etc, etc .... my own belief is that most of us are doing enough and are good parents and probably our children are going to grow up and think we were pretty darn good overall.
So (((hugs))). And yeah, I kind of think you are over thinking it. But it's okay. I over think it and I know lots of other people who over think it. And I think that's the nature of being a mom.

ewe are here said...

I have the luxury of staying at home right now while my boys are young (and it is a luxury), but Ramekin goes to nursery three afternoons a week for some independence, socialization, special activities... He loves it and asks to go. And I couldn't be more delighted, because I think it's good for him.

At home, I have a very loose structure: enough for the boys to have a good, general sense of what's going to happen when we get up, but not enough to upset them if we deviate from the norm. Every morning is a bit different; sometimes we stay home; sometimes we go out; sometimes we go to playgroups. It seems to work for mine.

I think the big thing is to not feel bad about not being able to do every little thing that they want. You can't. You just can't. And, even if you could, that would be an unhealthy message to send them and would probably make a lot of things worse.

bubandpie said...

Um, yesterday in fact. I cannot imagine anything less structured than the home care the Pie is in right now: it's run by a grandmother who raised nine children (the youngest of whom are still at home with her to pitch in). She is the most easygoing woman in the world, so nothing is scheduled, there's no program - sometimes they all bake cookies together, other times I wonder if they've done much of anything other than watch TV.

Most mornings, we have our routine down pat, but yesterday Pie's face fell as soon as I got out her clothes: "I don't want to go to Linda's house," she sobbed. And until I read this post I was second-guessing myself - maybe I need to get her into a proper day-care centre with a real program with themes and crafts and curriculum... Yeah. They're kids. Sometimes they just want today to be Saturday.

kittenpie said...

I mostly encounter resistance on mornings when she is going not into her classroom, but the play yard or gym, like today. Then it's not as familiar, and a bit overwhelming, and she clings.

Myself, I have been feeling guilt because lately, I have no energy, and she is watching more morning TV than normal as I snooze beside her, and I am a little snippier than usual, for being so wiped out. I understand the guilt, but I also understand that she can still slay me with an I love you. They are so very connected to our heartstrings, if not our apron strings.

Nancy said...

Boy, Jana, did this post resonate with me. Days when I have a rough day care drop off, like yesterday -- the tears are tough to take. I know Rosie will be OK within a few minutes, but it leaves lingering doubt in my mind about my own choices to work full time. Even though I know she's getting a great experience in day care, and like you said, a diversity of things (activities, food) that she would not get with me.

Some evenings we definitely do rely a lot on quick dinners and too much TV, just so Mom and Dad can have a little down time after a rough day at work. I know this is not harming them irreparably, especially when they don't get TV in school and day care, but I still wish work didn't suck all the life out of me (and that weekends weren't so short!)

So I have no advice, just confirmation for you that you are not alone in wanting to find that elusive balance.

And you're a great, conscientious mom.

cameo said...

oh don't let dr. laura get wind of this post. she's adamant mom's should stay at home with their children and would shoot down every reason you cited. that being said, dr. laura is a bit of a nut and not really in touch with us real humans. so, i add my own story - i never sent the boys to daycare - but the first day i took my oldest to preschool, torn my heart right out of my chest. that is until the teacher relayed what he said - through tears and sobbing he turned to her and said, "mrs. cook, school is so much fun." i look at it all this way. children benefit from variety. they grow to be bigger people when they get different input. you taking your girls to daycare does expose them to things you wouldn't. by having both experiences they become more well rounded people. and yes there will be a day when they don't look back and don't cry. and that's a good day. it means you've done your job well. but it all still hurts a little.

crazymumma said...

I'm stay at home babe. And I always questioned whether my girls were getting ENOUGH stimulation. Balance is an elusive mistress, nigh impossible.

I think if you have a desire to work you should work. Because if you are at home and restless and miserable because you are not working it will rub off on the girls.

Weekends are for treats and cartoon marathons. And no system is perfect. And it has been a brutal winter.

I hope you find your answers.

The Domesticator said...

I feel you on this. I think most Moms do, whether they work or not. Many times we question our choices. *sigh* I do all the time.
My kids are all in school right now, so they have seven hours of structure a day. I think it is good for them. They need structure ( at least my kids do) When they get home from school, that is their down time. They can relax, watch tv, etc.
When I first moved from the Northern US to the Southern US, I had to put one of my kids in a daycare type place. This place was chaotic, unstructured, etc. My daughter became a nervous kid for that time. It effected her so negatively, that I had to pull her out. It just wasn't good for her.
Anyway, I don't know if this is helpful or not.

Lisa said...

I do the stay-at-home mom thing. I feel very lucky that I have the choice. Our days had been fairly unstructured but now I wonder if we're "paying" for it.

Kindergarten requires structure - far more than our son has really had. He's having a difficult time being expected to pay attention, focus and follow directions. I'm wondering if we should hold him back, in fact.

And for the record, I know alot of stay-at-homers who feel guilt too. I often worry that maybe he's watching too much tv. And on days my patience is low and I snip at him, I think about how he wouldn't be getting snapped at if I was working and he was in daycare. I see my sister's kids. They are more independant than my son. (She works.) I wonder if I'm doing him a disservice cleaning up after him and if I do too much for him.

SO I think there's guilt on both sides. You just have to do what you feel is best for your family emotionally, financially. Sorry to say but I don't think there is an easy answer.

But I do know that you are giving your kids your everything. You love them with all your heart. You are a wonderful mommy!

But I'm sending you a hug!

nomotherearth said...

I've had plenty of days like that when I was working, and no lie that it ruins your whole day - casts a pall. I think that if Strawberry and Buttercup are generally happy - and they are - then the tears at drop off are simply because they love you so much and change is hard. If the daycare was really a problem for them, then they would be unhappy at other times too. For me, I know that I need the stimulation and change of being a working mom, and I just hope that my decision of quality interaction over quantity is enough. (Which is not to say that stay-at-home moms don't do quality interaction, not at all..) Frankly, I don't think that there is any "right" decision here, only a "right now" decision. Do what works for you, love your children, and it will be enough. You are enough.

That sounds kind of like I'm not struggling with this myself. I am. I haven't found an answer yet either. Let me know if you do.