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Nursery School, Nannies and Returning to Work

09/05/2014

Belle

Sabine holding a nature revival in Maine. This is my favorite photo from our vacation (which I need to share with you all!)

Sabine holding a nature revival in Maine. This is my favorite photo from our vacation (which I need to share with you all!)

I need to be honest with you guys – I am not in love with being a stay-at-home mom.

I feel horrible saying that. Yes, I am so lucky to get to be with Sabine during these precious days and yes I am relishing each and every one of them. Seriously relishing because I know I will not have a second chance to experience this. Sabine will be our only.

That said, I miss going to work. I was so pumped about being my own boss and being a part-time personal trainer when we moved here that I overlooked how much I actually like being part of a creative team and how much I enjoy going to work. I miss marketing more than I ever thought I would and find myself looking at job posting regularly and day dreaming about suits and button ups as I put on another navy or grey t-shirt and cargo shorts (my mom uniform as of late).

I have talked to the Professor about this and he is, um, not super stoked. We spent quite a lot of money to send me to school to be a personal trainer and I still have not prepared for and taken my certification exams. I passed the school portion with a 95% average, which is great. I was told I will be an excellent trainer and have what it takes. But, my heart just is not where I thought it was. Gym clothes 24-7 does not sound as yummy as it did when I thought I wanted to be home with Sabine until college do we part.

Childcare is a major issue with my going back to work full-time. We can’t afford childcare until I am working, but here you have to enroll your kids at least a year before you are ready to send them around here. Will I be able to find work to pay for the childcare if we enroll her? I will have been out of the field for two years by then. Will anyone hire me for a marketing gig???

We do agree that we are not ready to send our baby who can’t talk, and can’t walk, off to daycare in a big, crime ridden city. I know this sounds crazy and people do it all the time but we are worried sick about it. We both agree that we’ll be ready once she can come home and say, “Mama, something bad happened today.” and have some concept of “Stranger danger.”

We had  a nanny one day a week while I was in school and it was lovely but… not for us. Nanny culture here is that they act as parent, arranging play dates at other kids’ homes and taking the kids out to run errands and such. The problem is that the nannies don’t tell the parent where they are going. I would have no idea where our nanny took Sabine during the day and I never knew the homes she took her into. Were they child-proofed? Were they clean? Did she eat something she should not have? I had no way of knowing.

Call me over protective or crazy or whatever, but I am not cool with this. The icing on the “no nanny cake” was when I realized our nanny was taking Sabine all the way down to Broadway to run her personal errands. Broadway is a busy street and not always the safest. I am only comfortable taking myself down there during business hours and am always careful when Sabine is with me. People drive like lunatics, accidents happen regularly and there is a good bit of riff raff.

We interviewed other nannies and were surprised to find a lot of push back when we said we were not comfortable with this. I am more than comfortable with walks in our neighborhood, visits to the park across the street and regularly scheduled activities at organized public events like library time but just don’t feel comfortable letting a nanny run free with my kiddo and take her to into homes I do not know. This kind of trust is built over time with a nanny and as your child grows and develops a shred of common sense. It is not ok when your 8 month-old is still trying to taste cat turds she dug out of the litter box (thank heavens we are passed that now!)

So the nanny is out as a childcare option.

Yesterday I decided I was done running in hypothetical circles with my husband and I went to tour a nursery school at the local Presbyterian Church and it was LOVELY. The school has a Parent/Toddler program for littles like Sabine and then at 2 they can enroll in their “2’s Program,” which has a slew of scheduling options at deliciously realistic prices (still high compared to Kentucky but very reasonable by NYC standards). The school was clean and adorable and all the teachers were delightful and clearly loved what they were doing.

I fell in love. It felt safe, secure and happy there. They offer an instructional based curriculum meaning the kids don’t just run free for 6 hours each day, which I think is really important. I want Sabine to be learning WHILE she plays. It feels like such a good fit for us!

Today I went back and registered her for the fall Parent/Toddler Program. Starting in October we will together for 75 minutes twice a week to play, learn and sing. It is a great way to warm her up to the school and check it out. Next week the Professor’s mother will be visiting (also known as “The Investor” and “She Who Kindly Paid for IVF”) and we will take a tour together and then sit down to discuss some options for enrolling Sabine when she turns 2.

My emotions are not where I thought they would be with this. I feel such peace knowing that I can stay with her one more year, until she can talk and walk and that there is part-time or full-time school for her at 2. I am excited to see her grow and gain a little independence next year and am really excited to look at returning to the work force myself. And I am SO relieved to not have to have another discussion with another nanny about my overbearing wishes, too. I am also a little afraid the Professor will not agree! But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. Until then, I am going to day dream about watching my lovely little Lamb grow up and start a special school.

How do my fellow stay-at-home mom’s feel about their new “role.” Anyone else surprised at how they feel? And my readers who went back to work, how do you feel? Has anyone started with a part-time 2’s program and then bumped to full-time preschool at 3?

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20 Comments

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  1. jesicabrennan #
    September 5, 2014

    So…I have decided to stay at home indefinitely because I’m hopefully having many more than just this one, fingers crossed of course. But, I have found that I like it more than I thought I would. I didn’t necessarily have a plan for when I would start working again or even if I would but at this point I have no plans to return to the workforce. As the the 2’s program, I am looking into something very similar. Jett just turned 2 and we’re moving to a new city in a month or so. When we get there I plan to enroll him in a 2’s program which is 4 days a week from 9:30-12:30 and then at 3 I think it moves to a full day. We’ll see how it goes! I’m super excited to have a few mornings to myself!!!

  2. robinsnc #
    September 5, 2014

    Not in New York, but had a similar start with childcare. We did a nanny part time from 3mo to 22mo (I work from home so I was usually there but on a different level of the house). I did a partial separating toddler class one morning a week from 18mo to 22mo at the same time, knowing our nanny would be moving out of state. It was great separating practice for me and I could see my child completely ready to switch to an out-of-home caregiver/classroom option. We found one we liked and started part time at 23mo, and haven’t looked back. She goes from 8:30 to 4 and sleeps in the nap room from 12:30 to 3. I’m uncertain about switching to full time care, which would be beneficial for me. So curious what other people have done.

    I used to feel guilty about preferring to work rather than being a stay-at-home mom, but eventually I wasn’t. I don’t know what changed. I think we’re just too busy having fun for me to dwell on that. And more of my friends with similar age children are starting to go back to work. That makes a difference. But that my child likes the “school” really helps, too. Good luck!

  3. APE #
    September 5, 2014

    One miswesterners experience: My son is 4 1/2 now, but I had to return to work when he was 8 weeks old. No choice here, my husband just doesn’t make enough money to support us all and I make almost twice as much as he. For the first year and a half we used a homecare provider. She was our age, had four kids of her own, plus a few others she watched, and a pretty clean house. Also she had been friends with my hubby since elementary school and she only charged $20 a day. She also had all the equipment as far as baby gear goes and she never took the kids anywhere but to her back yard. It was a pretty good option for us until she quit one day. I had two weeks to find another sitter and when I did, she only worked for three weeks before quitting because she found out she was unexpectedly pregnant with twins. Sick of searching and working with homecare providers, when he was 18 months old, I decided to go the daycare route. I love it and have never looked back. My son has learned so much and has made friends, and I have even made friends with their moms. My son is now in their pre-k program and loves it. And if we want we can send him there for before/after school and summer care through the 5th grade. They even bus the kids to school! $175 a week is steep and really kills our budget but they feed them and I don’t worry about him. I know he is being cared for. I do have to say, when he was 8 weeks old it was devastating to have to leave him with someone I didn’t know well, but I didn’t have a choice. I worried that he was going to think she was his mommy and that I was going to miss his first steps and first words, but in fact, none of that happened. And now it’s a blessing when I get to stay home with him on vacation days and holidays, but sometimes it is a relief to go back to work! 🙂

  4. September 5, 2014

    I don’t think you are overbearing about the nanny situation! Maybe that is nanny culture in New York but it sounds bizarre! You would never do personal errands during a “regular” job so why is it ok for nanny to do it!?! And of course you wNt to know all about a house and family your daughter visits!!! Any who it sounds like a good 2 yr program and I hope you find a solution that works for you. I actually feel the total opposite. I did not expect to enjoy staying home as much as I am. But who knows how I will feel after 5 more months of it. I am leaving it open ended and will start looking if I feel the urge to go back.

  5. September 5, 2014

    I went back to work full-time when my twin sons were 10 weeks old, and while I do feel that was a little quick (I would have liked to have had about 6 months of maternity leave, career demands and finances permitting), I have always known that being a SAHM was not for me. I just know myself well enough to know that I crave intellectual stimulation and challenges that babies and small children, much as I love them, cannot provide me.

    It’s nice that you have options.

  6. September 5, 2014

    I never planned to stay home, but love it. But there are times that I’m not in love with it. Like today, when I took the kids to the Y and just walked the track so I could talk to my sister in peace. True story.

    I’m glad you know what you want. That’s awesome! If I go back to work some day, I have no idea what I’ll do. I don’t miss my job one bit. I get plenty of intellectual stimulation doing what I do – it’s just different!

    2 year old programs… Saved my life! You will love it! Matthew learned so much at 2 year preschool!

  7. September 5, 2014

    I had to go back to work when both of my kids were 8 weeks old, and that was TOUGH. I really wish I could have had longer (6mo? 12mo?) home with them at that age. That being said, I also don’t think I’d enjoy being a full time SAHM either – I need – CRAVE – adult interaction and validation and all of that.

    Both of my kids started daycare at 8w old, and it was a decent situation for us, mostly b/c I HAD to be okay with it b/c I had no choice not to work. Then I pulled them when Stella was 2y4m and Harvey was 3mo, and we got an in-home Nanny. I love her SO MUCH, but to be totally fair – she DOES run her personal errands with my kids (she pushes the double BOB stroller around town) and arrange playdates and the like, and I actually LIKE that b/c I like that they’re still getting lots of interaction with others and not just going stir crazy in the house. They’re always back for nap time, and other than that, I don’t really care what they do.

    It’s interesting how what we’re all comfortable with varies so much from person to person!

    • September 5, 2014

      I have a lot of nanny friends here that I met through baby gym, and they run their errands all the time with the kids and I thought that made sense. It’s not something I’d thought of before, but when they mentioned it, I thought, “well yeah, gets them out and about.”. Of course, it’s Iowa and not NYC.

  8. robin #
    September 5, 2014

    I don’t love being a stay at home mom but when I think about going back to work my stomach gets into knots. I don’t know that I want to go back to an office, to having a boss, to working for someone else. I miss working with certain people but I have had so many more bad experiences than good ones that I am afraid to go back … So I don’t know.

    The kids will be going to a 2s program starting next week, twice a week for 3 hours. I am excited and sad about it. I can’t believe they are growing up and going to school! But I am excited to have some time to myself. I have decided to use that time to work on art and consider myself an artist and stay at home parent. We’ll see how that goes. I don’t know what they will be doing at 3, whether they will still do two or maybe three days a week and have the other ones home with me, I don’t know. We’ll see how school goes this year. I have a feeling they will really like it once they transition away from being with me 24/7. And I think it will help me be a better mom to have some time away from them.

  9. September 5, 2014

    I don’t have any advice, but I can definitely relate to the motherhood identity crisis. I’m in the thick of it too. I’m sending you peaceful, shed-the-guilt vibes. 🙂

  10. September 5, 2014

    I stayed home with R for 12 months. While I loved being with her and seeing all the changes, it was also boring and lonely. I had very few mama friends and to coordinate around everybody’s naps and teething etc was tough enough that I only got face to face contact with other moms maybe once a week. It wasn’t enough. I missed getting dressed up and feeling smart and talking about anything other than the baby. I am back at the office 3 days a week and it feels luxurious. I love it. I get to get dressed up and make adult talk and go for lunches all while not feeling guilty or like I’m missing out too much on my baby. We put R in daycare. And while I hate hate hate the sick baby thing – I LOVE that she is getting a good schedule, healthy meals, interesting activities and playing outside twice a day. The daycare arranges games I wouldn’t dream of.
    Good luck with whatever you choose, only you can know the right balance and location for you and Sabine. Hope you find it!

    • September 5, 2014

      ^^^^ everything q just said!

  11. September 5, 2014

    Omg – it has gone way too fast! But so fun! They are too cute! And they will get so much out of school! And so will you!!!

  12. September 5, 2014

    I didn’t have a choice about staying home and while I used to be really upset about it, I’m thankful now that I didn’t have to make it. We have a pretty good situation going that works well for us, and I don’t think I’d make a very good stay at home mom of be very happy doing it. Being a teacher is nice because I get some long breaks with the kids–two weeks in the winter, a week in February and a week in the Spring plus the six weeks of summer. So I do get to have those times when I’m with them more and I really cherish that. The bad part about being a teacher is it’s as isolating as parenting and I don’t think I get from work what a lot of other WOHMS get as far as adult interaction and validation. So that sucks. Being with other people’s kids and then coming home to my kids is not ideal, but it is what it is.

    I’m glad you found a place where you feel comfortable sending Sabine. That is so, so important.

    LOVE that picture by the way.

  13. September 6, 2014

    When I was pregnant, just 4.5 short months ago…. I went out and got hired at 9 months pregnant as a private investigator. I just started a month ago when my baby was 3.5 months old and it was waaaaaay too soon. Before I got hired, I had taken a year off to work on a book and study for the bar exam. I missed making money and seeing people etc. But then when my baby girl was born everything changed, yet I had just landed this amazing opportunity. The job is super cool, but I miss my baby. I think waiting until she was 2 would have been perfect! You are on the right track. And I too went to trainer school then didn’t get certified. I love working out for me and realized I didn’t want to make it my profession.

    Oh and I don’t know what nannies in nyc are smoking, but I’m la based and would flip my shit if my nanny took my baby ANYWHERE without my permission. Hell to the no. The nerve of anyone who would push back on that!

  14. catie #
    September 6, 2014

    I’m not in NYC but nannies here are pretty much replacement SAHM’s. So they do everything with the kids, from play dates and playground trips to grocery shopping and hair appointments. I’ve even heard of a few nannies that interviewed preschools with the parents when the kids were old enough. And why not? Most of the time they will be the ones dropping off/picking up the kids and asking how the day went. I’m a single mom so i had to go back to work when my son (who is an only child) was 8 weeks old (he is 17 years old now.) I considered myself lucky that my mom was able to look after him while I was at work because sending him to a daycare would have killed me. Looking back i so wish that I could have been a stay at home mom. I missed so much, i know 99% of it feels mundane but it’s that stupid mundane stuff that really means something at the end of the day. My advice is stay home and enjoy your only for as long as you can financially. You can’t get those mundane hours/months/years back ever, trust me when I say you’ll wish you had that time back when she is older.

  15. September 6, 2014

    I’m so glad you wrote this post. Before having a baby, I always thought that I would have wanted to be a SAHM. But, I also knew: (1) there was no way I could know how I would really feel until I was in that situation; and (2) financially, it would prob never be an option. (My husband & I both went to law school, which was really expensive and we have lots of student debt. Then we became public interest/govt attorneys and do not make that much money). I actually love being a working mom for many reasons. One, I have a finite amount of mental energy between managing work and home. I just don’t have a lot of head space available for the more trivial things I used to worry about (like body image issues). Trust me–I’m a worrier by nature. Although it seems counterintuitive, I worry less about things in general because there is not a lot of time and energy to worry when working and having a toddler. Two, I’m really happy with our daycare (small center). I think she really benefits from the stimulating environment (way more fun than I can create). I also think the more people she has to teach her and care for her the better (the whole “it takes a village” thing). I also feel like even though she spends a lot of hours being cared for by others, as her parents we will always be the strongest influence in her life. Plus, I don’t have the available mental energy between work and home to fret about that anyway. Third, although I would not consider myself super passionate about my work, I find it fulfilling enough and really enjoy my coworkers. I was kind of over it during pregnancy and thought going back would be even harder, but instead I liked my job more after returning. If you can find a good balance of enjoyable without being too stressful, you may actually feel like you get to kind of chill at work. Although I love my home life more than work, the home stuff is way harder in many ways. I always wondered what moms meant when they would say that being a SAHM mom is so hard. I always thought they were talking about the physical care/endless chores. Nope–I’m pretty sure they are talking about the identity shift and isolation (even with good mom friends). Because I like being at work and having some of my own time, I feel like I’m able to be a much better mom to my baby in the time I do spend with her. Finally, I think for me, working helps keep my marriage balanced. I think if I didn’t have work as an outlet, I would probably be more adversarial with him and probably have some resentment. This is SO LONG…didn’t mean for that to happen. The bottom line: I enjoy being a working mom. I know lots of happy working moms. I know SAHMs who love not working outside the home. I think kids respond best to happy moms (duh). I don’t feel a lot of working mom guilt because frankly, I just don’t. I do hate how expensive daycare is.

    Also, I wouldn’t worry too much about finding the career that is going to be perfect or the absolute most fulfilling. I know it feels like in many respects that is the only justification for being away from baby/paying for childcare. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised being pretty happy even if something doesn’t exactly feel perfect. It’s good to feel good about your career choices, but I think you are putting too much pressure on yourself to find a perfect next step.

  16. Romy #
    September 6, 2014

    I feel conflicted about this myself. Back home (the Netherlands) almost all moms go back to work 3 months after having a baby but they will all work part-time, typically 3 days. Every mom of my generation in my family and group of friends has done this. I totally assumed (naively) that it would be possible here in Canada as well. So I spent a crazy amount of money on retaking many BA classes the University here didn’t recognize, followed by a Master’s degree. Once it was all done it turned out there are virtually no part-time jobs and definitely not in my field.
    My son is 15 months and I am still home with him. I will stay home with him for the foreseeable future because the only options to choose from are all or nothing in terms of work. But I do really miss being a part of an organization. I feel sad that I can’t start a career in my field (I finished my Master’s the DAY my son was born). And to someone who is educated and enjoys contributing to an organization and receiving positive feedback, staying at home with a toddler is not always that rewarding.

    I think it’s crazy how much is expected of women these days. Education, a career, a household, marriage, kids. Don’t beat yourself up over your choice. It’s a perfectly legitimate one and I don’t think there is anything wrong with nursery school. Waiting until she’s 2 sounds like the best of both worlds, a great compromise.

  17. nonsequiturchica #
    September 8, 2014

    Don’t feel guilty about not enjoying the SAHM thing. I loved my maternity leave with Izzy and could have spent a few more months with her but I finally enjoy my job and know that I am a better mother because I am working. I cherish the time that I do have with her much more.

    We have my daughter in daycare and she absolutely loves it. I was worried about leaving her there when she was only three months old because how would she be able to tell me if something was wrong? Now I don’t worry because for a couple of months now she smiles as soon as we get there and loves the teachers. Sure she is super excited when I come to pick her up, but if there was something wrong I’m confident she would cling to me, cry, or do something to tell me that something wasn’t right.

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