Drop offs and pick ups 

Cars

This morning as I dropped the little lady off to nursery, I couldn’t help but smile knowingly at one of the other mums looking flustered coming up the stairs with her son in one arm, and his bag, jacket and other toddler paraphernalia in the other as I overheard her saying to him “Come on, you’re going to be ok. Look there’s everybody!!”. I wasn’t sure whether her forced enthusiasm was for her benefit or his. He looked as cool as a cucumber. If anything she was the one that was looking slightly distressed by their morning experience. However, any parent will know that looks can be deceiving and for all I know he could have been about to have a major meltdown (incident 3) the moment they stepped in that classroom door. I didn’t stick around to see. I managed to drop off my little person this morning without any clingy koala bear moments (incident 1) or tears (incident 2) and as any parent with a child in nursery will know, once you’ve dropped them off in their room you don’t look back, you saunter as quickly as you can so that they don’t pick up on any signs of weakness and try to pull an incident 1, 2 or 3 on you.

As I ran down the stairs and towards the door I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself thinking about how similar our experiences as parents are, and of some of the times that the little lady has blindsided me with one of these incidental delights during the morning drop off. So I thought I’d share some forewarning for the parents who have yet to experience one of these, or some laughs for those that have. Here’s typically how they go;

An Incident 1 Scenario AKA The Clingy Koala Bear: You dare to break routine for a lovely family holiday/break/day off (fill in the blank) and attempt to return to said routine like nothing has happened or changed, but your little prince or princess didn’t get the memo. Routine is king to these little people and they may have just assumed that spending all day with mummy and/or daddy was the new routine. Cue one clingy koala bear when you try to drop them off at nursery on day one post your holiday. As you attempt to routinely hand them over to their key worker or the nearest staff member, you find that they are suddenly glued to you like a limpet, firmly refusing to let go and genuinely confused at why you are both there in the first place. After much placating, promises to pick them up after work along with your choice of bribe, the staff manage to finally peel them off of you.

An Incident 2 Scenario AKA The Tears: They usually come out of nowhere, all of a sudden and without warning. One moment everything is fine and the morning routine appears to be going to plan, but the moment you hand them over and attempt to leave they start to cry for no real or apparent reason. Some of us parents attempt to stay and try to calm them down and figure out what is wrong. Others hot foot it leaving the poor bewildered staff to deal with the incident. However in the end the result is the same. Whether you stay or go they will cry until they are ready to stop, or unless you take them home, and that’s not really an option now, is it.

An Incident 3 Scenario AKA The Major Meltdown: Both a parent and key workers worst nightmare. Major meltdown incidents are explosive and uncontrollable and have the power to set off all the other children. Similar to incident 2, they seem to come from nowhere and without warning but with much more ferocity. I have seen other toddlers self destruct all of a sudden like little grenades, with full on, on the supermarket floor type tantrums. They are destructive and distracting and both parents and staff know that these are dangerous moments for all involved. The situation must be handled swiftly and expertly before the others all realise what is going on and join in. I have often watched the little lady assessing the situation, at which point distraction (think high-pitched, over enthusiastic commentary about what a great day she is going to have), handover and a sharp exit are key.

However, im glad to say that by pick up time all seems to be forgotten by all parties. That is, until tomorrow..

If you have any of your own tongue in check drop off or pick up moments then share them here. It’s always reassuring to hear it isn’t just you, and at the same time have a giggle!

photo credit: N05/2934218773″>Rich boys have many toys via photopin (license)

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Practice run

Post it notes

I have been waiting for today since last week. My first whole child free day. My first day to do whatever I so please. But now that it’s here it feels rather lackluster. I miss my little lady and its only 8am. The husband thought it would be a good idea to do a couple of childcare practice runs before I go back to work in just under two weeks. Even though she will be looked after by family and therefore we know she will be absolutely fine, he thought it made prudent sense to see just how the routine will work in practice. Its a good job we did.

Things did not get off to a good start. Not only did I forget to set an alarm this morning, but I forgot to charge my phone which meant this morning had no chance before it even began. I got up on time thanks to the husband who was anything but impressed, but got up feeling very much like I’d got out of the wrong side of the bed which meant that most of the morning was spent in a haze of confusion and tiredness. I neglected to set out the little lady’s clothes last night unlike the previous occasion a few weeks ago where I was much more diligent. Surprise, surprise, come this morning I couldn’t remember what outfit I had decided on in my head last night. Not good. I almost forgot to pack breakfast and her sippy cup, and at the last minute remembered to throw a few toys into her bag. So rather than enjoying the little slither of time I had with the little lady this morning, she was whisked from room to room like she was being processed by airport security. Not exactly how I envisaged our mornings would be.

If I have learnt anything from our practice run, it’s that I will need to be organised to an almost military precision if we have any hope of getting the three of us out the door on time and in good shape. That means batch cooking on the weekends and buying in bulk to make sure the little lady has a variety of meals. Today she has chicken for lunch and chicken for dinner. Say no more. The husband even suggesting conceding to use Ella’s pouches in the week once im actually back at work, although my guilt over leaving her all day makes me feel like the least I could do is make her fresh, home cooked meals. I also realised last night that I need a better labelling system for her food, I need to get more organised with packing her bag the night before and not leave half of it till the morning like I did today and I most definitely need to take some tips from Betty and the Bumps and start putting her outfits together at least the night before. I should probably do the same for myself, and it’s definitely time I started getting us into the routine of setting an alarm and getting up at the time we will need to get up in two weeks time. I think the little lady was a little startled by the slightly earlier start to our day, although she seemed to take it in her stride and was just as cheery and chatty as she is on any other morning. It took me on the other hand, until 8am, one shower and one cup of tea to feel anything but cheery and chatty.

But now my house feels quiet and empty. I didn’t realise just how much children complete a home. It feels as though the little lady has gone for a nap and I am just waiting for her to wake up. I’m not sure yet how I will fill the many hours between now and this evening. Even with everything that I have been “meaning to do” or “catch up on” I don’t think it will keep me busy until she comes home. Last Saturday night when I didn’t make it out of the house to go to a friend’s birthday party I commented to friends that I think we may have “separation issues”. I thought I was referring to the little lady, but now im not sure whether I meant her or me. It would seem that this practice run may be more for my benefit than anyone elses…

I’d love to hear from other parents on how you’ve made the reutrn to office work for you. Did you do a practice run? What tips can you share that will make life that little bit easier?

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/missnita/380929930/”>Ani-Bee</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

The return to work

Rubix cube

Yesterday we finally confirmed our childcare arrangements for the little lady. I’ve been slightly on edge about it since December, wanting to know who is going to look after her when I go back to work later this year. Any parent will know what a big deal this is. Entrusting someone or somewhere else to essentially help raise your child. I say raise because the reality is, that with two full time working parents she will spend almost as much time with them as she does with us. A fact that makes me feel sad. However, we are in the very fortunate position that we have amazing family close by that are willing and able to help out with childcare which makes me feel better, but not any less guilty about going back to work. Inevitably, since firming up our childcare arrangements my mind has started to race on trying to figure out all the practicalities. Just exactly how are we going to do it. How are we going to juggle two busy, full on careers and still be there for breakfast, dinner, bath time and bedtime everyday. Neither my Husband or I work anywhere remotely close to home. Both our commutes are at least an hour door to door on a good day, my Husband at the mercy of the motorways and I the London transport system. So how do we do it. How will we make it work for our family?

I am absolutely perplexed. Should one of us do drop offs and the other do pick ups, or does one person do both then the other do bath time and dinner allowing the other to catch up on some work before bed time – because we both have those types of jobs. Should we start batch cooking meals on the weekend to save time? What about taking holidays, should we take them together and always spend them as a family or should we split some of it up so that the little lady gets to spend the little bit more time with us, even if sometimes its just with one of us. What about when she is sick, when she has doctor or dentist appointments, how do we decide who takes time off then? It feels like sorting out our childcare arrangements was just the beginning of a whole conundrum of things to figure out, some of which we will probably have to figure out as we go along.

So I want to know from other parents; how do you manage to balance your careers with your families. How do you make it work. What are the shortcuts and time savers you use. What do you wish you thought about or knew before you went back to work. I want you to share your best tips and tricks to help me and other parents returning to work be as prepared as we can be!

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/toniblay/52445415/”>Toni Blay</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;