Friday, 31 August 2012

The Journey to DC… (daycare, that is)

It’s official. My son starts daycare next week! Hurray hurray! Not only is he going to daycare, it’s the amazing government subsidized daycare (Centre de la Petite Enfance for my Quebec friends) that is located onsite at my company. I am living the dream. The suburban corporate working mother dream, that is.

For six wonderful months, my amazing mother and my son’s beloved Grandmaman (or “Gaaaaa” as he calls her) has been babysitting my son while I am at work. I am so thankful that she has been able to do this. Not only did this avoid us having to send him to an expensive private daycare but it also built a wonderful bond between my son and his grandparents. She is an extraordinarily patient person who had to draw from reserves of strength and energy that she probably didn’t know existed in order to spend long days with a toddler. But she never once complained and told me often how much she enjoyed it and how much she loves him. Who could ask for anything more? I know that on the days when she had other appointments and I had to work from home to stay with him, I was ready to tear my hair out in frustration, so she is a better woman than I am.

When I got the call from the daycare a few months ago telling me they had a spot for my son in September, I was ready to throw a party to celebrate. In Quebec, there is an excellent program which subsidizes daycares to provide affordable childcare to parents. The problem is that government subsidized daycares are so popular that waiting lists are notoriously long and spots are highly coveted. I put my son on this waiting list when I first learned I was pregnant. They knew about my pregnancy before anyone else! When I wasn’t hearing from any of the dozen or so daycares on whose waiting lists we were registered, panic began to set in. I was starting to look for semi-private or home-based daycares for my son. Fortunately those spots are easier to come by, but I was still holding on to hope that he would get in to this particular daycare.

The day has almost arrived and I am so excited. I know it will be a challenging transition, but I think it will go well. By all accounts, my son is so ready to start interacting with other children and he’s desperately in need of new experiences and stimulation. When we visited the daycare last week, he was so excited it was hard to tear him away when it was time to go home! I’m sure there will be moments where the novelty will be at its peak and others where he will not want to be parted from mommy but when the routine becomes established, it will be good for everyone.

Wish me luck! Read all about it right here next week!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Travels with toddler

Ahhh vacation time… a concept that usually inspires enthusiasm, rest, relaxation and much happiness. Before having a child, my husband and I would almost always choose a beach destination where we would arrive, drop our luggage in an all-inclusive resort room and head to the beach. Where we would sleep. For seven days straight.

If ever there was a time in our lives when we could use seven days and seven nights of sleep, it’s now. But alas, the reason for our exhaustion is also the reason that it’s simply not an option for us to do that anymore. Not if we want to spend any quality time with our 18-month-old son.

So times have changed. This year, we headed to the ultimate land of family vacations: Florida. We rented ourselves a condo, a car and bought tickets for a day at Sea World. Yup, times have changed.

All things considered, it was a wonderful vacation. We spent two weeks on the beach, disconnected from home and had lots of fun as a family. Some wonderful things happened, some funny memories were made and we will not forget this first of our family vacations together.

On the wonderful side, my son FINALLY started saying “Mama”. It took him some time, but once he began, it was so lovely to hear him say it over and over again. He says it so sweetly that I feel like he’s saying he loves me every time. It has not yet reached the nagging, whining stage, so please let me savour it as long as possible!

We went to the beach almost every day. My son really enjoyed the warm, shallow water, the soft white sand and being able to run free along the water’s edge. I think we may have only missed three days of beach the whole vacation – once when we went shopping in Orlando, once when we went to Sea World and on the last day, when it rained and my husband had a raging fever and stayed in bed all day. That last day was oh so fun. Thank goodness for the most amazing mall (Westfield Countryside Mall in Clearwater) about 15 minutes from the condo, which had an indoor playground designed for toddlers and a cute train that takes parents and kids on a ride through the mall. Even the family bathroom was fun, with tons of toys and things to play with.

Renting a condo was really perfect for our needs. We were able to cook our own meals, pack our lunches for the beach, wash our towels and bathing suits in a washing machine, we had wifi and a great selection of channels on TV and the condo complex had its own pool. But let’s face it, a vacation that involves cooking, laundry and cleaning is not the most relaxing of vacations, is it?

My son was also not in his familiar comfortable bedtime routine or bedroom, so getting him to sleep was a nightly challenge. No, let me rephrase that. It was a nightly epic battle. In those times, I felt like a horrible, mean, surly mother because my frustration would escalate to points of anger and yelling that really didn’t help the situation. There were many nights when my son finally fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion at 11 pm, far from him normal 7:30 pm bedtime. And it didn’t stop him from waking up at 7 am the next day.

Let’s not even talk about airplane travel with a toddler… Let’s just say that it involves a serious amount of toys, books and abuse of any available videos. Thank goodness for my iPad and the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse videos I had downloaded before we left. I know you’re not supposed to let kids under 2 watch TV, but well, some situations call for it. Okay, many situations, but that’s a debate for another day.

As far as vacations go, it was definitely different from our last vacation. It was the start of something new for us. As with all new parenting experiences, we learned a lot and maybe the next time, with appropriately managed expectations and newly-learned coping mechanisms, we won’t sweat it! Or maybe we will. Who knows… All I know is that I now understand the expression “I need a vacation from my vacation!”

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

And we're back!

Source: via Baby on Pinterest

Oops, has it really been a month since I last posted? Dear readers, I’m sorry, I know I broke the number one rule of blogging, which is not to let much time go by between posts!

Well, it’s been a crazy month which might explain my absence from cyberspace. It all started when my mother (and primary childcare provider) went to Greece for three weeks for a well-deserved vacation. After she took such good care of my son for so long, how could I begrudge her a vacation? So in that time, I was using and abusing other relatives for baby-sitting services and working from home. Needless to say, although I had much to blog about, I had no time to do so!

Then we took our first-ever family vacation since my son was born. We went to Florida for two weeks, so that brought on a whole other level of frenzied preparation, and then while on vacation, a whole new set of life learnings. 

So I spent three solid weeks with my son, at home and on vacation. It was exhausting.  Now I need a vacation for myself. I’ve never been happier to go back to work, where there is quiet and a constant supply of hot coffee!

I promise to provide a post-vacation report on travelling with an 18-month-old very soon! In the meantime, I have to finish unpacking, catch up on my work e-mails and (hurray!) start getting my son ready for his big daycare debut in less than two weeks.

A woman's work is never done...