I had a nanny taking care of child #1 up until one month before child #2 was born; she left me for another position I couldn't compete with. It was ok at the time, since it gave me the opportunity to spend an incredible amount with my daughter before child #2 made its appearance. Much of the conversation I had with peers and my family was centered around the idea that I had to find help for once child #2 will join us; fundamentally, the question was, "How will I manage both kids?" Each kid required different amounts and types of attention, and since there is only one of me, how will I be able to attend to everyone's needs?
(Even the husband needs some attention.)
I was extremely worried about this. I have a neighbor who has 3 boys all under the age of 6. She has no help and she stays home with them all day. I thought of her as an example and tried to pick her brain every time I saw her outside. The logistical challenge seemed to overwhelm me.
I had a very nice lady come in for the first month to take care of child #1 while I was home. That was very nice. But then, she left me too (I'm really not a bad employer!). So at that point, I just needed to hitch up my britches and plunge into childcare, all by myself.
And I did it! Not only did I do it, but I loved it! Sure, some days were difficult, and some days I was exhausted, but overall I really, truly enjoyed it!
I made a flexible routine, I tried to work out meals ahead of time, and I took advantage of local services to diversify our day. I was attuned to #2's patterns so that I didn't drag him around when he needed to take a nap. I attended a 6-week mommy & me program (and got some cool crafts out of that!). I attended free storytimes around town. I joined the Children's Museum and went there several times. I took the kids to my sister's house to play with my nephew (who is about 7 months older than my daughter). Grocery store trips were exciting with the race-car shopping carts. I had playdates with friends with kids with similar ages. I went with friends and kids to the Discovery Green spray park one day. I tried to balance busytimes with quiet times, making sure that she knew how to entertain herself for when I had to take care of #2.
Now that I returned to work, I recognize how much I have grown over the summer. Being with my children was more challenging, I think, than any client engagement. I set expectations (for myself), managed routines, adapted to new challenges, worked on new skills (movement, language, coloring, rhythm, patience with my daughter)...and on and on. For me, I gained confidence knowing that even if something seems impossible at first, if I work at it bit by bit and take it one day at a time, I can be successful.
Boy, that sounds like a business book in the making: the business lessons I learned by just taking care of my kids.