Very often, I am singing my mother-in-law’s praises because in addition to raising three kids, taking care of her granddaughter, cooking three meals a day, cleaning, sewing, and a litany of other things she does that I can’t, she watches my son eight hours a day when I’m at work. God bless her. Chasing after toddlers is hard work for me at 26 years old… I can’t imagine how difficult it would be if I were twice that age.
When I think about the one-on-one attention my son is getting from what I call his “cultural childcare,” I smile. I know he gets to experience a very unique setting each day and hopefully, he will learn a second language because of our arrangement. When the school year finished, I spent time reminding myself of all the benefits of family daycare. But then, I hit a few road blocks. And I remembered that everything with pros also has cons.
So let’s talk about one major con to family day care.
My mother-in-law, father-in-law, two sisters-in-law, brother-in-law and niece along with an entourage of neighbors and friends planned a 4-day cruise for the month of August. Originally, the family wanted my husband, our son and I to join, but a mixture of finances and work obligations caused us to decline the offer. Now, we realize, we’re facing a problem.
For my husband and I, the school year begins on August 13. Before that, we both have to attend orientations at our schools for full days. Guess where Abuela is on those days before school AND the first day of school? Yeah. On a cruise in the Caribbean. With every other family member. Both of my parents and my brother work full-time, and we’ve never left our son with anyone else. So here we are, dumbfounded.
In a nutshell, Con #1 to family daycare: Said family can do whatever they want! If they want to go on a vacation, they go. If they need to drive to Ikea and don’t want a baby in tow, they’re entitled. When my mother-in-law suffered from colds or other illnesses last year, I (or my husband) had to call our schools, scramble together substitute lessons plans and take an unplanned day off to take care of our son. Sometimes, our “daycare”—a daycare that YES, we pay for (I hate that question)—simply isn’t an option. Those of you who use the traditional day care or preschool setting may have to deal with crazy drop-off times or Christmas closures, but typically, you know those things in advance. I don’t get a calendar of what days my father-in-law says they’re too booked up or my mother-in-law has the sniffles.
And when you’re a type A planner like me? The worst.
So what do we do? Well, we problem-solve. I really didn’t think I had many options. I have a few friends who stay at home with their children and I’m sure would say they’re more than happy to watch my son. But it would probably be a major inconvenience, I’d know that my son AND my friend’s child each couldn’t be getting one-on-one attention, and my son might not adjust well to a strange setting.
Thankfully, my brother is dating a girl who is not only beautiful on the outside, but beautiful on the inside, as well. She is kindly taking her usual days off from work (which coincidentally happen to be the days of the week we need to go into school—fate?) and coming to OUR HOUSE early in the morning to watch our son. I have total peace of mind because she has helped to raise two very energetic, outgoing, healthy nephews and she is keeping my son comfortable in his own environment. She is a lifesaver.
I’m truly curious if anyone out there has dealt with this. Do you have a nanny, home day care or family member who watches your child(ren)? What obstacles have you run into and how have you overcome them? Is there a “brother’s girlfriend” type in your life to swoop in and save the day? Please share!