Saturday, May 18, 2013

Life is Too Short to [Put Your Kids in Daycare]

Ruffling feathers. Hold on a second, I do understand that sometimes both parents MUST work just to pay the mortgage/rent and get food on the table. We all know that. 

Sometimes one parent doesn't make enough to cover necessary expenses, bills, student loans, sometimes you are the only provider and a brave single mom or dad. Things happen. Life happens.

If you are that parent and daycare is the only way out for you, please close this. Stop reading. Do what you need to do. Carry on. 

I want to talk to the rest of us. The parents that rely on a second income for stuff. 

To pay for a second car, a nice house, for cable, the latest electronic gadgets, a decent wardrobe, dining out, for shopping organic, nice vacations, for having your kids well-dressed. For your kids' piano class, ballet, gymnastics, martial arts, art class, private school, and Lego club. The parents that need a second income for things that aren't necessarily necessary

Something made me think today about how we spend the time with our children, how I spend time with my children. Mothers all over the world loose children every day. Due to accidents, illness, or unfortunate events. If you were to ask such a mother what she would have done differently, what would she say or think?

"I wish I spent more time with my children."

"I wish I was more patient with my child."

"I wish I didn't devote as much time to work."

"I wish I told them 'I love you' more often."

"I wish that time by the lake on a weekday I smelled the flowers with them, soaked in the smell of their sun kissed skin, and hugged them tighter instead of thinking of my 'to do' list."

Ask any empty-nester if they regret not working long enough hours when their kids were younger.
Do you see where I'm going?

Of course, it doesn't have to be all or nothing. I know many moms, myself included, that find a way to be present in their kids' lives and make an income - whether it is part time or from-home. Moms are the most entrepreneurial bunch I know! There are mom-owned businesses spring up like mushrooms everywhere. In the throes of raising children - we're forced to be inventive and it pays.

We gave up a lot for me to stay home. We've also gained so much more - so much that cannot be measured in dollars. I'm mindful of what my children will remember me to be when they are grown. I don't want them to remember me as always busy, rushing, impatient, distant, consumed with work. I want to be present, patient, facing them when they speak, and not constantly saying "not now kids".

I'm not here to make you feel guilty. I'm here to inspire a life worth living. I'm here to tell you there is more to life than the rat race and you know that. I'm here to remind myself that sometimes work can wait and there are things that matter much much more. 

I'm here to tell you that you can do just fine without all the 'extras' that the society around us tells us we must have. 

Stuff will not make us happy. Stuff does not make for a life worth living. Let's leave our stuff for building blossoming relationships with our children to impact the world through them or to just impact their world. We are the world to them.

Are you willing to give up something today to spend more time with your children? 

What can you do to stop running through frantic schedules and pause to enjoy life more than just on the weekends or vacation?

Does your family thrive more when you are a working mom? Do you find you need to work to stay sane?

What's your ideal work/life balance situation?


  1. In my ideal world I'd work part time. Unfortunately it is not going to happen. Living here in MA (as you know) is incredibly expensive and I honestly don't know how people can do it on one income. We don't have extras, no cable, no fancy electronic gadgets, we have two 10 year old cars, we don't belong to the Y or take dance classes. Yet we are still stretched to the limit. It could be that I am a librarian and my husband is a teacher-maybe if we'd chosen to be in different fields it would be easier to have one of us stay at home. On the weekends we don't run around, we spend time at home and seeing friends and family. My goal is to keep it low key. This has always been okay. However-once my daughter began public schools in N.A. it was very obvious that we are on a different social economic scale. Yesterday my daughter went to a party at a home that had a salt water pool and security cameras everywhere! It is hard not to feel like you are not keeping up-even with a dual income. Believe me, I'd love to get out of the rat race but I think it would mean leaving this state.

    1. I totally hear you on how tough it is in MA, one of the most expensive states to live in! No wonder families find themselves leaving this state en masse, we've thought about it too. I think if my husband lost his job here for any reason, we would have to move (my part time online income could be enough for us to live in a cheaper state if I found a couple more clients). We are very low key here too, mostly just at our playground withing walking distance every day and about once a week we meet up with cousins or friends at another playground or local farm (without spending any money). We do very few trips, last year had no vacation but saved up for one this year in New Hampshire, short drive. I really think kids don't need much, and frankly I'm happy we aren't able to get them anything and everything - they appreciate what they have and are compassionate kids. :)

  2. i love this and totally agree...we went from 2 jobs and 2 people to 1 job and twins (4). I am at home and love it. I have sacrificed lots, just last week I gave up my cherished spot at my local YMCA to save money for the family. I wish we had more income every single day but in the past I have made lots and have not alot to show for it after taxes and life expenses so I would rather have peace of mind that my kids are safe and loved and not getting sick all the time etc. I am going to try to work out of the home if possible but not if it conflicts with homeschooling...(a free scholarship to Harvard or another great school also can't compete with making a few bucks to buy extra junk that we dont need)

    1. Wow, twins! What a blessing! That's wonderful that you can be with them. I'm also trying to find a balance of homeschooling my 4.5 year old and working from home (mostly while they sleep). It's very rewarding to see them become incredible little people and to be the person that knows them well. I think the reason the kids are generally well behaved is because they don't have to navigate the world of having 3, 4, or even more caregivers, which can be confusing for them (when one person lets you get away with something and another doesn't). It's no wonder if given the choice they would pick to just be with mom and dad :)

  3. I have tried both being a working mom and staying home with my children. I like staying home with them a lot more.

    I do have to say that maybe there's a third category? Stay at home moms who might spend a little too much time running around being busy and spending too much time on their phone/computer. I'll be the first to admit it- I've gotten into a really bad habit of too much screen time.

    I need to get back to my diligent homeschooling mom ways. We were just getting into a good groove of spending time outdoors studying nature and indoors cooking, cleaning, reading and having fun when we had to move to an area I really don't like. I've been using the computer as my escape. Thank you for the important reminder.

    1. The third category sounds interesting and I see what you mean. Sometimes we just pile way too much on our plate and then can't keep up with it, it can be exhausting. I really try to minimize any outside activities since that's the only way for me to balance working from home and still giving my full attention to the kids.

      Yes, I love those days when there is balance of outside/inside - most of my days are an orchestrated attempt to find that balance! My kids would live outdoors if I let them, so it's important for us to be out at least 2 hours each day, they don't need much - just the local playground or even playing with water right on our front steps is all they crave. :)

      Now if only I could learn not to get sidetracked when I finally sit down at the computer to work ;) hehe

  4. I often have friends say to me that I am so lucky to be able to be a stay at home mom. I reply by letting them know it isn't luck, it is hard work and discipline in saving etc.
    (with the exception of my one friend who is a single mom but is working, going to university and still being an incredible hands-on mom!).
    There was an article in our local newspaper last month that stated how costly living here is and how families need double incomes. It gave a breakdown of expenses and childcare care was about equal with rent/mortgage payments. I really thing the cost of a second job is equal to or higher than not having one. It's not just paying for childcare. It includes the cost of (often) a second vehicle and it's insurance & gas, work clothes, work food, children's food (let's face it, to-go lunches/snacks are going to be more costly than home food most of the time)

    1. Absolutely, that's how I feel as well. While some moms (like single moms or when the husband's income is really low) must work to make ends meet, most SAHMs I know - all of them actually do so because they've made a choice to do that and it wasn't worth all the extra expenses as you mentioned. At the end they wouldn't be left with much of their second income, if any. We used to spend A LOT more on food when we both worked full time and had no kids, than we do know with me staying home and the addition of two children.

      Thanks for your comment Viv!

  5. I always been staying home sense we had kids, with no college degree i think i would only work at the retail stores or perhaps do something else that was on my mind, only i never had enough time to get there. My husband never wanted me to work outside of the house because i would only be working for a day care. Sometimes i wonder how those moms do it all, work outside of their home and get stuff done at home. My day goes by so fast i still have list of things to do. Especially now living on one acre land, my priorities changed, and im second thinking if im enjoying this. I feel cough up in a yard work, and train kids to help outside pick up rocks and weeds has been quite challenging. Coming from an apartment easy life into a farm life is quite different adjustment.
    I don't spend as much time on the internet like i use to, im really behind checking emails, unless i need to learn to manage my time and priorities more, i lately feel like garden and cleaning taking over, and my kids are tagging along.
    How did i find time sit down and read a blog? It's been 60 and very windy here in WA when only couple of days ago it was 80, perhaps that is God's call for me to take it easy.
    Thanks for the reminder, i needed that!

    1. Thank you for your comment Luda! I've had dreams of having land so that we could grow some of our own food, but the past couple of months I've been realizing what a huge chunk of time it would take! I'm not so sure I would want that anymore. I'm okay with someone else growing food for me, though preferably a local farmer :) I do dream of a yard for the kids every day though! They have nowhere to play, it's so annoying to have a neighborhood where there are cars going back and forth, no sidewalks, Baby E has to ride her bike right on the road and I'm always on edge trying to keep her out of harms way.

      I think it's easy to be reading 'homesteading blogs' and to desire that rural, garden life - without knowing just how much work it is. I feel so bad sometimes that all day I'm just cooking and cleaning and have to tell the kids 'not now' way too much. But that's life, moms have been doing that for eons. At least when we are outside, they have my full attention, that must be why they beg to go outside - because I'm not busy doing something, folding laundry, prepping food, etc.
      Now that they are asleep I sigh to sit down and work, put in my 25-30 hours a week. I've been really downsizing here at Eco-Babyz and not posting every day because I realize I just can't do it all and can't keep staying up after 2 am working anymore! When I don't get enough sleep everyone is miserable.

      I have a hard time with managing time and I think most moms do :) Sometime it might look 'perfect' on the outside, but really isn't!

  6. Staying home is not easy, and we've made sacrifices in order to do it. But I will never regret it. Now that my oldest is in school every day, I am SO, so, grateful that I was able to stay home with him until he went. To send your child to day-care is to allow someone else to parent them. Something I am not willing to do.
    I think it is very brave of you to post this! Well done.

    1. Thank you for your comment Esther! That is wonderful you were able to do that! Just like you I can't imagine my kids spending so much time with someone else parenting them. We're actually homeschooling and excited at the prospect of learning alongside our children beyond toddlerhood, giving them opportunities that we feel aren't available in a classroom and positive socialization that seems to be absent even in elementary schools these days. Have you ever considered it?

  7. I'm sort of in the middle, I guess. I have to work (nope, sorry, couldn't stop reading after the first three paragraphs), and most of the time I feel like it's better for my mental health to have a non-mommy place to be on a regular basis, though I do wish I could drop to part-time. Thankfully my mom is more than willing to watch my son while I'm working, so while I would prefer to have more of my time be my own, to spend with him, I feel lucky that we don't have to pay for daycare and that he gets to spend so much time with his Grandma (and some bonus Grandpa time, too).

    1. That's great that grandma can stay with your son! My mom comes twice a week to be with the kids and even though it is just a few hours it does add some sanity - even though I work during that time. Nice to just have quiet, it's relaxing to me even know I'm working (online) :) Thanks for your comment!

  8. I could never to the daycare thing. I stayed home (and still do) with both my kids. One is 15yrs now, the other is 1.
    We moved out of the city to a much smaller town, helps save some $$

    1. Yes, it helps to move someplace affordable. We live in the suburbs of Boston, it's pretty expensive here. It was a trade off when we contemplated moving someplace more rural on the west coast, but decided to stay here because all the family is here and all the grandparents.
      I'm thinking of writing a post soon on the ways that we make it affordable for me to stay home. :)


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