We have cancelled bubba’s place in family day care. I will explain.
My big caveat here for this post is that I absolutely do not want anyone to read this and feel that our decision is any sort of judgment on theirs to use childcare. At ALL. Just as with the bottle vs breastfeeding, I think that we can all care for our children in whatever way works, and as long as the bub is fed and loved, she will be just fine.
We took bubba to day care three times: once to meet the carer, who was absolutely lovely. We wanted family day care as it seemed more homey, and like it may offer more scope for attention to the individual children. Then we took bubba for a test run, where I stayed with her for two hours and then we tried to settle her for a nap (see my last post about childcare). That day, there was only one other boy there, as it was still ramp up time for the carer. Bubba was perfectly happy to play, as long as I was there. She would not settle for a nap under any circumstances. We then had to go away for a week, but upon return took bubba back again. This time she was again happy to play, even though there were now three other kids there (and another would start the following week). Whenever I was out of sight for a brief moment, such as going to the loo or putting together her familiar portacot (in an attempt to help her nap better), she screamed until I returned. The nap was a failure again.
This time, when I went home, I had to face some realities. I want bubba to adjust to daycare, and with time she probably will. But the daycare we had chosen was not right for her and won’t be until she is big enough to feed herself, and get around, and communicate – basically, until she is about 18 months old or thereabouts. The carer was lovely, but does not have the time to take care of a bubba of our bub’s age – 10 months.
We are now looking at our options. We are going to visit a day care centre and see what the babies room is like. From this experience, we have learned that actually, a formal centre may be better than a family day care environment, if it means a dedicated room for babies of our bubba’s age group. We are also looking for babysitters who can come and babysit bubba at our home for two hour slots, two or three times a week. This is going to be an expensive option as it is not eligible for government rebates. But it might at least get our bubba used to being cared for by another adult. We have the luxury of doing this, because we work from home and so we can be flexible.
Part of me wants my bubba to learn how to be around others more quickly. I am impatient for her success. I feel like it is a failure that she has not been able to adjust and that we have to take “baby steps.” I feel indulgent; I feel extremely Western. There is something which rears up inside of me and scoffs at my “transition,” something which fears turning my baby into an over-protected princess/sissy: something vaguely working class, coal-coloured, something that looks a lot like my hardworking dad and his sacrificial ways: something about sucking it up, and getting on with it. Something about not wanting to be on the receiving end of those condescending glances I liked to give to those helicopter parents I swore I would not become.
I don’t really need to excorcise these particular demons at the expense of my bubba, whom I love and in actual fact, I don’t want to part with that much, anyway. She may be the only baby I ever have; in fact it is quite likely.
And we do have the flexibility to ease bubba into this. So we will work with a babysitter to get her used to other adults, because she has had so little exposure to anyone outside of me and my husband. We will take her to playgroups, to get her used to being around other kids. Gradually and eventually, we will get her across the line and into childcare.
The current approach to childcare does bother me, though, in the same way that all the state infrastructure around having a baby once bothered me. Economies of scale and the way in which we support individual freedom means that the state now provides the types of services that once your village would have: child care, mothers groups, playgroups and so on. This is wonderful in the breadth of expertise available at low cost to us all. But it is sad also that these things are part of a market economy at all. I wonder if there is a website where mums in their local area can connect and share their children’s care: either through sharing nannies, or directly by working out their work days so that they can not just job share but child-share. Hmm. Time for some interweb research – maybe there is another solution to my childcare dilemma after all.