The care factor

“You mean she sends her kids to crèche even though she’s going to be at home all day?” a relative asked me recently.
I’d been talking about one of my friends, who was sending her toddler off to childcare a couple of days a week, even though she was at home with the baby.
Now I could have been talking about one of a dozen of my friends.
Because this is just the done thing.
Kids go to childcare even though they have a parent at home.
Is it right or wrong?
Well, for a start, is it really anyone else’s business?
I guess by putting it out there I’ve made it so, so let’s look at it.
Parents who send their kids to crèche all day every day while they go shopping or try to win big on the pokies?
That’s easy: wrong.
Mums who send their kids because they are tired and stressed with the new baby and simply can’t cope?
“Not in my day,” according to my relative. “If you’re going to be at home, why wouldn’t you look after your own child?”
But was there even a choice in her day?
How about parents who send their child to care because they feel he or she is becoming isolated and bored at home?
Many parents these days seem to enrol their kids in childcare because it has become less about babysitting and more about socialising and educating their children.
While, in the past, it might have been seen as a disadvantage for your little one to have to attend childcare, today many are seen as disadvantaged for NOT going.
Master Seven went to childcare for at least half a day a week from six-months-old.
It wasn’t a difficult decision – I really had no choice.
I’d been working as a freelance journalist and, when he was newborn, would either strap him to my chest or cart him in the capsule to each interview.
But, as time went on, the cute grins and sweet noises he’d charm the subjects with turned into screams and grunts to be put down so he could explore.
So, at six months old, off he went to care, for half a day a week.
I remember one Friday afternoon having all my work done within the first hour and deciding to use the rest of my free time seeing a movie.
I mentioned this to his carer when I went to pick him up and saw a dark cloud cross her eyes.
Was it the wrong thing to do?
He was only a baby after all.
As time went on, my little Master went more and more, varying from one to five days a week, depending on how much work I was getting at the time.
I wasn’t keen on enrolling him full-time and was lucky in my profession that I never had to.
Four centres and four years later, he graduated a well-adjusted, outgoing boy.
Was his behaviour influenced by childcare?
Undoubtedly.
He’d made little friends, tried new foods and picked up important social skills like sharing and packing up.
Because Master Seven started school well before Li’l Fatty came along, I haven’t had to worry about having time alone with the baby.
I’ve got it, six hours a day, five days a week, guilt-free and free of charge.
But would I have sent Master Seven to childcare if he’d actually been a toddler rather than a big kid when Li’l Fatty came along?
It’s hard to say.
On the one hand, I have the easiest baby ever (how else would I be able to write this blog?) so I’m not really sure I’d need to.
But, on the other, those few hours after school when I’m home with both boys… well, let’s just say I listen very intently for the sound of Learner Dad’s car in the driveway.
Will Li’l Fatty go to childcare?
With the end of maternity leave looming, it’s probably time for us to get his name on a waiting list.
There are two nannas with hands up to help out and Learner Dad has weekdays off, so it may not be necessary.
But then, if another Li’l Fatty were to come along, maybe we wouldn’t give it a second thought.

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Kiss hug kiss hug

“Great to see you again then,” I said, as we prepared to leave.
I leaned in, suddenly unsure if this was a ‘kiss’ or ‘cuddle’ person.
In a panic I puckered up, only to land a kiss awkwardly in the shell of her ear.
Yep, this was a ‘cuddle’ person.
At least she was into some sort of embrace.
I’ve been in worse situations where I’ve gone in for the kiss or cuddle, only to realise at the last second that the person isn’t expecting either and just stands there…
Being kissed or cuddled…
By me.
The funny thing is, I was never a ‘kiss’ person.
I mean, I am to close friends and family.
To acquaintances, I was pretty happy with a casual wave, a quick hug hello or goodbye if required.
But after too many cringe-worthy moments, where I’d gone in for the hug and had an unrequited smooch land on my cheek, or my eye, or even my shoulder, I had given up and become a kisser.
It seemed easier that way.
That was, until I came across the hardcore kissers…
They’re the ones who see your mouth heading for their cheek and quickly turn their face for a bit of lip-on-lip action.
Those buggers always take me by surprise.
And leave me standing there, desperately trying not to wipe the residue away.
I’m not sure exactly how old I was when I went from punching my little brothers, to kissing them.
But it was only recently I realised one of them was definitely NOT the kiss type – he was simply sticking his cheek in my vicinity, probably reluctantly, and letting me kiss it.
So, recently, I decided I’d do the same – and we ended up awkwardly cheek slapping each other in greeting.
Fortunately the absurdity of it made us laugh and it’s since become our special way of saying goodbye.
And speaking of, it’s adios from me.
Mwah.
Sorry, were you not expecting that?