Out of the Box Childcare Arrangements

I guess this just proves the case that there is nothing more motivating that relieving yourself from artificially imposed pressures. Because here I am, finding time to blog after my self declared hiatus.

I wanted to share this article I recently read, that was shared with me by Kristen Burgess of Natural Birth and Babycare.com . The author, Arianna Taboada describes her decisions surrounding child care and makes the case that it doesn’t have to be a black and white decision between working and staying at home. I have actually had in mind to write an article like this myself for a while, because I also feel like I have discovered this “secret,” namely, that it is possible, with a bit of perseverance and willingness to go against the grain (well actually a lot of those things!) to come up with a child care plan that is totally tailor-made to fit your circumstances.

I went back to school (or uni, for my Australian readers) a month after my son was born. I brought him with me, on the one and a half hour bus commute, to my classes and back home again. It was draining and during those early newborn months, as soon as we got home, usually around 6pm, we would both go to sleep! That said, it worked and allowed me to stay on my track to doctoral studies and be with my son full time. Of course this was dependent on my awesome professors, who agreed to my son being there in class with me.

In second semester, when he was about eight months, I started hiring babysitters to take him while I was in class. They would call if he needed to nurse or be with me. It worked really well, as well and I was lucky to find some great babysitters who I felt at ease with. Knowing my son was often literally just down the hallway, sometimes I could even hear him screeching and laughing from my classes, was a huge relief.

At the start of this academic year, I tried this arrangement again and it totally flopped. My now 14 month old was happy to play on campus with a babysitter, but the bus rides and waiting for the bus by a busy highway was not such a positive experience.

What we ended up doing was a bit outrageous, but again, it worked for us. We didn’t want to put our son in daycare from very early in the morning until I returned from university, so instead, we moved to the neighbourhood that borders the university. We decided some time in November, and by the 1st of December we had crash landed in our new home. Again, crazy, yes. Working, also yes.

These days our childcare arrangements are a bit ad hoc and in transition as my husband has recently begun a new job. But essentially, he looks after our son in the mornings while I am in class or working on my thesis and I am with our son in the afternoons and evenings while my husband works. I have an extra two hour work session some time in the afternoon when a babysitter comes to take our son to to the park. I have found that in between his nap and the two hours of babysitting I can get an impressive amount of work done, but it demands a level of focus during the hours I am working that I am not used to. Before I was a mum, I could spend hours working on the same projects, getting in and out of flow and distracting myself when I needed a break. If I know that this is the time I have to work, it is less easy to go with the natural rhythms of inspiration and distraction that I experience.

The point that I am trying to make is that like the mom in this article, we have found that some kind of alternative where in a certain way we are enjoying some of the best parts of both the working and staying-at-home lifestyles. It’s been busy and difficult, but like the author of the linked article, I think there is a lot to be said for thinking out of the box when it comes to creating the kind of family life we want and need.



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