Look at that face. That face says play with me, mama! That face also says let me sleep on you at all times because I may be a tad bit clingy. She is a very snuggly baby and let me tell you, I am here for all the snuggles requested. I’ve got a 24/7 snuggle hotline open and she has the number. But do you know what is very, very hard to do while snuggling a baby? Basically everything.
So here is our story of how we get anything done and how it almost broke my new mama heart in two.
Since both B and I work from home, we knew that we would need childcare eventually but honestly, it was a topic both he and I avoided. I think this was out of ignorance mostly (that sweet, sweet ignorance, oh how I miss thee) as we didn’t really know what it took to care for a newborn. There was a part of me that thought — truly thought — that I’d be able to work on KE, which is my very full-time job, and keep up with her with no issue, my very full-time baby.
Let’s take a moment to laugh quietly at my sweet innocence.
Ok. Feel free to stop laughing at any time.
You guys, I had NO idea what I was in for. Each stage that we come to is a new day and a new night, just as we figure her out she changes again. In theory, someone this small should not be able to command so much attention, right?? Wrong. She is our tiny elephant in the room at all times. And I’m not even talking about her needs — WE literally can’t leave her alone. We play, we coo, we swing, we dance, we talk, we laugh. Gemma basically has the cast of Sesame Street as her parents. And before I know it, its 6 pm and nothing got done. No emails were answered, no content was created, no photos were edited. Let’s not even talk about that kitchen sink or that laundry pile that multiplied into 3 overnight.
But. But look at that sweet face!
I came to my senses around November of last year. I knew that there was no way that we could continue running KE as a business if I didn’t have the amount of time I had before. (Which I still don’t have but I’ve learned to be very fast and very efficient in what and how I do.) We had gone to Gemma’s three-month check-up and my pediatrician was talking about dropping her babies off at daycare. We were talking about working full time and how challenging it can be, trying to not feel guilty when you have to choose work over staying home with your baby. (My guilt felt multiplied since technically I am at home!) She mentioned how her kids went to the school just next door to her doctor office and that she could peak out and see them play on the playground and even just seeing them for a second made her feel okay to carry on with her day. Seeing them happy and playing reminded her that they were just fine!
I trust my pediatrician like a best friend, she’s amazing and so calm with everything about parenting. She calms my crazy new mom feels at every appointment. I was oddly encouraged when I saw this successful doctor running her practice had also struggled with the idea of someone else taking care of her little ones. It’s a hard choice when a computer and a long list of to-do’s are looking at you but your baby is looking at you too. That choice will always be my baby. But to get anything done, I knew I needed to find a secondary care for Gemma, so we started looking at school’s we could place her in. She still felt too young at 3 months and as I was talking to my mom about this she mentioned that she could watch her for a few hours each day during the week. I immediately thought — why didn’t I think of this? She’s in our neighborhood and this was the perfect solution. I could go see Gemma at any time since I was just around the corner, everything she needed would be a call away.
The first day I dropped Gemma off at my mom’s house, I was a mess. It wasn’t like mascara running down my face kind of a mess, but just an anxious mess. I was just on very high alert. I am not kidding when I say that I texted her every 20-30 minutes. ‘Is she okay? What is she doing? Do I need to come back?” And this was with leaving her with my own mother, a person she has known literally since her first hours on Earth. I was this way for about 6 weeks, each day we would drop her off and my stomach would pit. Ya’ll this was my mom. A block away from me. I can not stress to you enough HOW CRAZY I WAS. I look back now not with regret but with admiration of how much I just wanted Gemma to be okay.
And you know what? She’s MORE than okay. Gemma thrives. She gets to play with new toys, she gets to talk to new people and see different faces. She is such a social baby that she just loves being with people and honestly, she gets bored a lot of times if we are at our house all day. Changing her scenery and giving her different things to see and play with has really helped her developmentally. She gets SO excited when she sees my mom now — she KNOWS its play time. And now I have full confidence in not only leaving her in secondary care but also in a more structured and educational environment when the time is right. And honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me if that time comes sooner than later. This girl is social, moves like crazy and has energy for days. And if finding her a place to thrive is the best for her, I can let my mama anxiety go. When you find someone or somewhere that you love and trust to take care of your baby, it’s the best feeling in the world. So as we begin to look for outside childcare facilities, it is comforting to know that there are places out that have value the importance of parental confidence and comfort.
At a facility like KinderCare, I would be able to leave Gemma knowing that she is on her schedule, getting lots of love and laughs, and being cared for by a dynamic teacher. KinderCare strives to build the confidence in children from the cradle to the classroom, but also confidence in parents to focus on their day and work ahead because their child is in the very best care. This commitment to families is shown through their 1400 centers nationwide as well as the robust network of experts for children. (PS: If you want more info about KinderCare, find it here!)
Gemma knows our morning routine now. She watches me get ready, we get her changed, and we pack her bottles in her backpack and whatever toy she’s decided she’d like to chew on that day. We get our bag together and if the weather permits, we take a quick stroll over to my mom’s house. I drop her off with no tears — from her or me — and in a few hours I pick her up, just as happy as I left her.
I know that eventually our time with my mom as her caretaker is limited, but this has really helped me ease into the idea of a part-time school or daycare for her when she’s a bit older. I no longer feel that guilt a lot of us working mama’s know all too well.
And just look — look at this happy face.
*Special thanks to KinderCare for collaborating on this post!