Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day Care vs Mummy

Last night I went to a presentation for the parents of toddlers at our day care centre.They talked about the activities they did with the children and the different stages of development etc. I have to say, I am glad they are doing such a fantastic job with my children (on Fridays) and it looked like all the things they do are a lot of fun. It's nice to know your kids are having a great time while in someone else's care.

I went home and discussed it with my husband, and I felt a twinge of emotion as I admitted to him that I thought the Day Care workers were doing a better job than I actually was. My lovely husband reassured me that I am a great mother, and reminded me of some pertinent facts about the day care workers- that this is a paying job for them, it is from 9-5, and they can go home after and have time out and get a full nights sleep. All valid points, yes, but I still sometimes feel guilty. I feel like I have been eager to be a mother FOREVER, and I assumed I would be a natural the whole job. Now here I am, day after day, wondering- what do I do? Is it my job to entertain them? Or, is it to provide them a safe, entertaining environment? Should I just be playing with them, or encouraging them to play alone? Is it a little bit of everything?And where is the compromise between never-ending housework and errands and never-ending parenting? (And yes, please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section, I am not above asking for help!)

Generally each day has a similar routine- each day is broken up by meals, breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, bedtime routine. (I use the word routine loosely- it is not set in stone.) Between meals there is kindy, naptime for baby, errands or outings, playtime at home and all the regular housework and cooking. And let's not forget that it's not unheard of from them to be up some time in the morning starting with a 5, and not unusual for me to threaten to, and follow through with, locking their bedroom door with a 'lock' fashioned out of two old BankWest ties at about 9pm.

Today I decided I was going to try to involve the kids in everything that I needed to do. We had our breakfast and we read for a bit, and played a little. Then I decided to cook our dinner in the morning, so I cut up all the vegetables etc so the kids could join in making our quiche for dinner. Then we made brownies together. There was a minor incident with an egg, as Isabel said "It got out." Translation- the 'egg' got out of the eggshell (after she dropped it on the floor). In the afternoon I tried to recruit Isabel to help me vacuum but she lost interest pretty quick. How is it at 2 she has already clicked certain things are chores and therefore not cool anymore....?

I know that I do want to encourage independence in my children, and taking responsibility, which means allowing them to try things, and do things themselves while I supervise and quietly cringe at the mess involved. I could tidy the playroom myself in less than five minutes but I insist on making them pack away their own toys, even though it takes a lot longer and is actually harder work for me, guiding everyone onto their next step. I do think helping them develop these skills will pay off in the long run.

So, I guess today was a success. My house has been vacuumed, dinner is already taken care of, I have spent time with my kids involving them in my activities and also completed all of our errands. But surely success is more than 'the house is vaguely tidy and my errands got done'. I want to enjoy my kids more, and to have more fun with them.


  1. The fact that you worry about whether you're doing it right is the sign of a good parent. No one has all the answers and everyone does things differently. You just need to find what works for you and try not to make comparisons to the parenting of other people because sometimes it can make you feel as if you're not good enough. If you're doing what you feel is right, it's good enough.

  2. I felt the same way when my babies startd daycare, but then when i thought about it properly (critically)...

    There were always 2 carers, one to entertain/supervise, and one to take care of dramas or set up the next activity

    they got to go home and get some sleep! as your husband helpfully pointed out.

    all the cooking and cleaning was done by yet another staff member etc etc

    I wish I had starting training my kids earlier like you. Mine are only 5 and 6 but they think it's my job to clean up after them. Miss 5 even told me that.

    the best advice I ever got was to involve them in what you are doing anyway- It doesn't feel very entertaining to you, but kids just love your company and your attention. Kids love cooking. When mine were too little to reach the bench, i put them on the floor with a big wooden spoon and a big pot, and some dry pasta to stir and 'cook'.

    Would your daughter 'ride' the vacuum cleaner or is it too noisy? If my kids work out that somthing is a chore, they quickly go off it too- but if I change tack and act like emptying the dishwasher is the funnest thing in the world to do, they jump on the bandwagon. i have even been known to make them clean their room and as a reward they could sweep it! (I decorated the broom with pink ribbons)

    And what Ali Awesome said is 100%. The fact that you're questioning yourself, automatically makes you a great Mum.

    Keep up the good work!

  3. Thanks for the advice girls! It's always reassuring to hear other Mums express similar feelings. : )


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