I’ve been doing a lot of thinking in the last few days about why it is so important to me to run a business in such a way that I can also be the primary childcare provider for my daughters. From the moment I became pregnant, I knew this was important to me. I talk a lot in my book about this being paramount. But why? Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. I’m frugal. Where I live, full time daycare can easily run $10K- $12K for just one child. Look, I know early childhood education workers are worth that and more. But the sad truth is that here in America, that kind of bill is really tough for most families to handle. Most Americans don’t have assistance with that huge bill for the early years. What a relief it must be for parents with kids in daycare to finally send their kids to elementary school.
2. I’m a germaphobe. Kids are tiny Petri dishes, and the little ones seem to bring home every nasty thing. My first daughter was not sick a day in her first 18 months of life. But with the increased interaction that both of my daughters had just this last winter at school, church and playgroups, and the sickness that came with it, my entire family missed two entire weeks of work and school. Even when I was pregnant, I knew the germs were headed our way. I don’t really buy that line about sickness making them stronger. I wanted my children to grow up a little before I threw them out into the big, bad world.
3. I’ve been there. Because my own parents separated when I was very young, and then my blended family had two working parents, I spent a lot of time in all types of childcare as a youngster. I’m not saying they are evil, but some are better than others, and parents can’t always tell which is better.
4. I’m a bit of a control freak. If I have the luxury of just a few years where I can ensure my kids are eating very healthy foods, are napping on schedule, and are not watching TV and commercials, by George, I’m going to take advantage of that. I think this falls under the heading of pick your battles. I know there will be plenty in the teenage years that I don’t have a hope of controlling or even adequately influencing, so I’ll take my turn now and hope some of it sticks.
5. I love being with my kids. Even though I am not a woman who gushes over babies in general, it turns out that I really loved hanging out with my own tiny humans. They were generally happy, giggly babies, so they were a lot of fun to be around. As they learned to be mobile and then talk, they got a bit more challenging. Now, as my older daughter is four years old, I feel a bit like a cruise director many days, trying to keep her occupied and stimulated. So I’m thrilled that she does attend a preschool, where she does cute crafts that would just never occur to me. But I still love to pick her up from school in the mornings and hear all about it. I am one lucky mom.
By the way, when I was pregnant, I had fantasies that my kids would be so much fun to be around that I would want to home school them. I now know that I am not equiped to entertain toddlers and youngsters for hours on end, and our awesome public school will do a great job of helping them to grow into the fabulous people I know they will become.
Disclaimer: My choice to structure both child-rearing and business-building into my day is neither an endorsement for this lifestyle nor an indictment of those who make other arrangements. The structure and flow of family schedules that we moms support are amazing. Choose the path that’s right for you.