Monday, 30 August 2010

Working from home.

I have been a full time work outside the home mum, a part time work outside the mum, a full time stay at home mum, and now I'm a work from home mum (wfhm).  Working from home means I have more time with Rye, right?  Well, no.  Childminding means I am paid to care for the child(ren) of parents who work. As I have worked outside the home, I am very sensitive to the ache a mother feels when the carer seems to know her child better, can understand the burgeoning language skills easier, sees all those firsts, all those developments and wonders that young children experience.

That sensitivity means I often do not mention new words spoken, or new skills learned, but rather wait for mum to discover her child's new skill and then smile indulgently with her as she proudly tells me of her child's achievement.  I take photos, I write detailed accounts of activities, I care for her child, almost like she were my own... and inevitably this means some of my time with my own child is compromised.

Such compromises are not necessarily negative; my mindees brings friendship and companionship on an almost daily basis for my son, without knowing it, she is teaching him responsibility, empathy, honour, and limitations. She is furthering his socialisation skills, and he in turn is effectively a big brother to her; protecting, sharing, teasing, laughing, and encouraging her to try new things, to push her development ever forward.  It is a delight to watch, if sometimes my ears grow weary of the inevitable squabbling between almost 2yr old little girl and an almost 4yr old little boy.

She brings much to our household and she takes too.  Some activites are not suitable for her, so they are delayed, indeed sometimes I feel I am constantly saying to Rye, "Later, hun, when it's just the two of us", and explaining that C is too young for XY&Z.  For the most part I am able blend the needs of two children who are developmentally really rather different with some success, and for Rye's part he is very attached to my mindee. 

The balancing act between having time for just the two of us, tempered with time needed for my own pleasures and chores is challenging.  I have enjoyed the last few weekends where I've had a day extra with just Rye.  We've gone to the park together, we've watched dvds, made meals together, read stories, sang songs.  Perhaps not a whole lot different from when my mindee is with us - yet, I cherish the alone time with my son.  I cherish being able to bring out the paints without first having to protect the entire lounge from my mindee's enthusiasm and keep a constant eye on her to ensure she does not eat the paints, paint brushes, paper.... hand prints on the wall etc.  She keeps me on my toes, that's for sure.

How much I've cherished the simple task of making breakfast - dinosaur toast... Rye helping me in the kitchen to cut out the shapes in the bread, and once toasted Rye buttered and added lemon curd to his toast.  He was so proud of himself - and I realised it has been a while since he's helped me in the kitchen because I normally prepare the meals first thing for the day, or in the afternoon when they are napping.
How lovely to  be woken up by Rye coming through from his own bedroom, to snuggle and have boobie, then cuddling and snoozing for a bit longer afterwards, to be woken again by Rye, his voice chirping, "Is it time to get up and go downstairs, yet?".  I miss mornings with Rye, normally I am awake and downstairs before he wakes up, and once my mindee arrives, cuddles and snuggles with Rye become impossible as she naturally, wants to be a part of the fun too, and while it's lovely to snuggle two warm little bodies and smile at their antics, the kisses and cuddles they give each other - oh, how I miss my morning snuggles with Rye.

It has been a stiff learning curve.  Childminding is perfect for me.  I adore being home, I adore providing a service for parents whose jobs mean they cannot care for their own children during the day.  I am so very grateful that I am able to remain home to tend to Rye's needs, I wish it could have been so when he was a baby, but it wasn't I had to return to work full time.  At the time I was desperate too, and then very quickly equally desperate to be back home with him.   Those few months of full time work opened my eyes and were instrumental in shaping the homelife I became determined to provide for my son.

And now this current contract has shown me how careful I need to be when taking on new ones.  Sure the money has been nice, but the severe reduction in time for myself and for Rye and me is not worth it.  From September my mindee will be going to nursery on a Thursday and Friday morning.  This translates to her being with us full time Monday to Wednesday, not at all on a Thursday, and a Friday afternoon, and a Saturday morning.  A much better balance and once I'm determined to maintain; from September Thursdays will be sancrosant, nor will I take on any further contracts that require weekend minding.

My heart continues to wrench in sympathy for my client and her daughter who have so little time together.


nocton4 said...

Honey, what a wonderful, wise post, so very touching.
Here's to you and Rye.

Pippa said...

Such a thought-provoking post. I hope you get the balance right. I'm thinking what a kind and sensitive person you are, thinking of the working parents and how hard it must be to be told what their child has been doing and to hold back and let them find it out for themselves. My mother used to mind Rosie for two days a week while I worked and I used to find it so hard to hear what adventures she'd got up to without me, can always remember being told that she had learnt to clap her hands and feeling so inadequate for missing that moment. I bet your mindee's parents are so relieved to have found somebody like you, who understands from both sides. But you need to get the balance right or you'll feel robbed of these wonderful, early years with Rye and that won't be good for anybody. Lovely blog post .xxxxxx

Fiona said...

Agree with the others Jacqui - what a thoughtful and touching post, and a stark reminder of how lucky I am to be at home with the girls (even on the tough days - off to post about one of those now).
Rye is one lucky little boy, and we will be copying your dinosaur toast idea too - absolutely brilliant!

LesleyA said...

Jacqui - what a lovely post, what a lovely childminder, what a fab mama X

Sharonmanc said...

I have just been recommended your blog today by one of my blog readers, I am taking redundancy from teaching, I was full time when my eldest 2 were smaller, and with my last child ( almost 2) i foudn myself single again so opted to go back part time, and soon i will nto be working while i train to be a childminder, so i can be available for my own children, I really hope i find that balance, this post resonated with me so much, as I am trying to create the life I want for myself and my children while, creating a balance, I am looking forward to reading the rest of your blog Sharon :)