My two-year-old daughter might be what you call "high maintenance." She doesn't like to play by herself, talks a blue streak, and is constantly looking for attention. One of her favorite phrases is "Look at me," something she says before doing somersaults or splits or -- gasp -- diving off the couch because another one of her traits is absolute fearlessness. I've caught her staring at herself in the mirror and pretending to cry. She asks about a gazillion questions a day about everything. Ev-er-y-thing.
The problem is her mom is also high maintenance. I made the decision this year to quit my full-time job and do something that would allow me to raise my daughter, but as a work-from-home parent, I require hours during the day when I can just stare at a computer screen. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't often wonder if a daycare worker would do a better job of "raising" my daughter than I am.
Honestly, a big, fat reason why I opted to stay home is because daycare in New York City is expensive -- like half-my-salary-per-month expensive. It made more fiscal sense for me to stay at home. But there were other reasons behind my decision. I HATED getting home at 5, receiving recaps from my mom and mother-in-law (who graciously babysat my daughter for nearly 2 years) and realizing I missed out on hearing my daughter express a fear of mannequins. She had her very first scare, and I was nowhere near to give her a hug.
Other things bothered me, too. I wanted to make sure she wasn't watching too much TV and that she was getting outside a bit more and exercising. I wanted to challenge her to learn her numbers and the letters of the alphabet. On days when she had an earache and had to be brought to the doctor, I wanted to be the one to do it.
So I have the fortune -- and believe me, I KNOW I'm fortunate -- to be able to wake up, work feet away from my daughter's play area, make her a healthy breakfast and lunch, and experience all of the joyful and sad experiences she lives through on a daily basis.
But let's be real. We're both human. And two humans who spend so much time together sometimes get sick of one another -- even moms and daughters. She gets bored watching me work and throws her sippy cup at the wall, knowing I'll have to stop what I'm doing and take 5 minutes to clean up the juicy mess. I start to think about my many friends who have kids in daycare and who rave about how many little companions they've made -- I mean, they have actual children to invite to their 3-year-old's birthday party!
I worry that she isn't gaining the valuable experience of learning how to share her toys, not take other children's food, and listen to a caretaker who isn't her mother or father. As much as I try to impose a "schedule" at home -- you know, now we'll watch Sesame Street, and now you should draw a picture, etc -- it falls to pieces more times than I care to admit. Will she be far behind the other kids once she enters Pre-K? Am I overthinking this? Yes, probably. But every time she asks a really great question about a bug in her book and I'm trying to concentrate and have to tell her to "hold her question" -- as if she understands that and is capable of it -- I can't help but wonder whether she would get the attention she deserves at a quality daycare.
Do you have positive or negative experiences with working from home? Do your children attend daycare and has it been beneficial for them?
Image via taberandrew/Flickr
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