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18 September 2005


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My dh and I traded shifts for many years so that babies were not in day care - but we did use nursery school at appropriate ages and the kids loved it. I'm not sure I'd still do it, though. I did use a commercial day care provider for a few weeks with my third child while my sister (who had been my provider) was busy with her new baby! But the commercial provider up and went to texas and never came back, and so for 3 months Marc went to work with his dad (we had lunch together every day and so were able to continue breastfeeding for two years.


I think that the majority of people wind up cobbling together a variety of child-care arrangements throughout their lives with their children. My first son spent a lot of time with his dad. My second son has had me at home most of the time. Both kids occasionally are cared for by a very close family friend.

Increasingly I've been leaving my children in the child care facility ("kids gym") in the YMCA for maybe half an hour at a time so that I can take swimming lessons. I say this to point out that I'm not --- shall we say --- ritually pure when it comes to avoiding institutional day care. But that kind of "child care" --- measured in minutes, not days-per-week --- is not the same animal as what's needed to support a full-time job.

I also think it's a good idea to wait (to use arrangements like the YMCA care I mentioned) until you sense that your child has the language and time-sense to understand, from experience, that you'll be back soon. (Five minutes to start, then maybe ten, working your way up carefully.) Perhaps most importantly, you should be willing to abandon the idea entirely if you try it and it obviously stresses your child.


Oh, the other thing we do with the Y: They have a policy that if the child cries for more than (I don't know how many --- five or ten?) minutes, they come and get the parent. My instructions to the staff there are: if Milo, who's 2 next month, cries for more than 20 *seconds*, or "asks for mama," they are to come get me then rather than try and try to comfort him. I find that I almost always get at least 20 minutes --- long enough to get a decent workout in the pool --- before he asks for me. (If I'm not in the pool, for instance if I'm using the running track, I stop down to check on him every 10 or 15 minutes --- this seems to extend my total time. Tricker to do while dripping wet.)

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