My husband and I were talking the other day about finances – always a not so joyful conversation topic. Like most of the rest of the country, we are constantly discussing the need to “tighten down.” For us, this is hard, as we already have minimized where we can (I know there are probably several areas where we could do better, but I’m trying to keep some sense of realism about what we’re I’m willing – key word – to sacrifice).
The conversation always ends up in the direction of daycare / babysitting expenses. Lucky me, this is “my” expense (as compared to the “shared” expenses of groceries, utilities, etc). We are a completely merged household. We don’t have separate accounts (um, not that I know of, do we Hon?). We both make decisions, especially financial ones (again, right Hon?). So don’t get me wrong, there really aren’t “my” expenses and “his” expenses, they are all just expenses; expenses we both have to deal with. The big issue is which expenses take priority?
Now that Zackery is in preschool, his daycare expense has disappeared, replaced of course with the cost of preschool, which is about half of what we were paying per month. Good deal! Less overall hours, but I’m happy (honestly) having him home earlier (thus avoiding the evening rush to get dinner on the table in time).
We had a credit at Zack’s daycare from pulling him out to start school before the month was over. I loved his daycare – awesome! I felt like part of their family and vice versa. Zack had been going there for 2-1/2 years and it was hard for me to pull him out, but he was ready for school, and I guess so was I. He kept asking when he was going to start “big school” and mentioned he didn’t want to be with the babies anymore. So yes, he was definitely ready!
Anyway, we had this credit and we had been discussing putting Brayden in one day a week. He was younger than when we started Zack, but I went for it anyway. I knew he’d be fine (I trusted the daycare completely, and Brayden was no stranger to coming with me to pick up Zack). So, for 6 weeks Brayden went to daycare on Fridays, while Zack was in school and I did… what did I do? I slept, I showered, I ran errands, I wrote, I relaxed, I caught my breath! It was wonderful. A real day “off.”
Then, our credit ran out, and the thought of shelling out that extra cash (which still combined with Zack’s preschool cost would be less than what we were paying just for Zack) was hard for even me to swallow. Will had been talking about stopping daycare once our credit was up (and he wasn’t 100% on board with starting in the first place, but Mama usually gets her way – really I’m not bad, just determined). I knew this was the right thing to do, so I made the call and canceled. I felt bad, and didn’t want to cause issues, but being like family his daycare was overly understanding and supportive. She’s still saving a spot for him for down the road when we are better off financially. I love her.
I also feel good about the decision NOT to have Brayden in daycare because it’s really what I am trying to be – a full time stay-at-home Mom. Wait, did I say “trying to be?” Yes. I think sometimes we have this image of our ideal selves doing these ideal things, like being the most perfect (a word we should just take out of the English language) Mom. The Mom who makes eggs and toast for breakfast every day; who happily folds load upon load of clean, spring-fresh-smelling laundry; who makes pot roast from scratch every Sunday for dinner, blah blah blah. Um, yeah, that’s not me.
I am a very loving, nurturing, passionate Mother, but I need my space and “me time” too.
We’ve had a babysitter who has been watching Brayden on Wednesday mornings for almost (or maybe over – wow!) a year now. She is awesome. I love her too. I love a lot of people! J It gives me time to run to the post office or go to an appointment (it’s kind of awkward taking your toddler to the gynecologist with you). I share her with one of my other Mommy friends and we have generated the “perfect” (I know, sorry I used that word I said we should ban) plan. Our babysitter (who shall remain nameless as I will protect her and keep her all mine, ha ha ha!), now watches both our toddlers all day on Wednesdays, switching houses every other week. So, while Zack is in school, and Brayden is with super-babysitter and his little toddler friend, I get my day “off” again.
Is this in the budget? Well, it’s in mine! This arrangement that we have still costs money every week, money that Will and I were both hoping we could save for date nights instead of just watching Brayden, but it’s even less than having Brayden in daycare once a week. Bottom line, still saving money, however the discussion still comes back around to, “do we need to have super-babysitter?”
My answer: YES! If I don’t get my day off, to do whatever I want need to do, I will go crazy – literally. I would be sitting on the couch in some therapist’s office once a week (for which we’d have to pay for a babysitter anyway), feet up, crying and begging for sanity and peace.
I have had both boys at home with me (and granted we may have actually gotten out of the house) for a solid week or more without a break, and it wears me down. I know myself. I’m being honest with myself, and my husband. If I don’t get a break every week (and I mean more than just 15 min while I take a quick shower, which usually results in a rush job because I can hear one or both of the boys crying out in the other room), I will go bonkers.
So, here I sit, on my Wednesday off, writing (my personal therapy), enjoying my second cup of coffee at Wild Cherries, knowing that Zack is happily learning something fabulous in school and Brayden is probably now happily on his way to dreamland for his nap with super-babysitter.
Moral of the story: A babysitter and a cup of coffee is cheaper than therapy!
Sitting at Donner Lake with my cup of coffee from Wild Cherries Coffee House. I did the same thing last Wednesday morning, except didn’t bring anything else with me. Last week was purely a “clear my head” morning. With everything going on in my life, I chose to give myself a break and not “work.” Something I don’t nearly do often enough.
Despite having tons to do and a billion things I could write about, I got my cup of coffee to go and found a nice, quiet pier to sit on. With the brisk, chilly morning air breezing across my flip-flop adorned toes, I basked in the mountain sun reflecting off the bright blue lake. I wasn’t there long – just long enough to enjoy the warmth of my coffee, but it was just as long as I needed.
Today, I sit here, at the same public pier #37, once again enjoying my Wild Cherries coffee, this time with pen and paper in hand. Yes, I have my laptop with me, but it is a bit difficult to plug it in (as a revolt to my dying battery). So, I am being “old-fashioned” today – writing as the thoughts flow from my head, down through my heart, transforming into words as my fingers grasp my pen and the ink appears on my paper. (Okay, yes, I know that as you’re reading this I have actually gone back to the future and am typing this up… but hey, I had a nostalgic moment there).
I happen to glance up at the mountain side, and I see a train chugging along through the tunnels above the lake. I block out the sounds of the cars driving by along Donner Pass Road, and I inhale a deep breath of fresh mountain air. A fishing boat moves slowly across the rippling water in front of me. The leaves are dancing gently and the sun warms my face and my soul. What a perfect morning that I am gifting myself!
I know it’s important to take care of myself, but it is not often that I actually get to follow my own advice. I know that if I don’t take time for me, how can I possibly take care of anyone else? Not to sound selfish, but everyone needs a little self honoring every now and then, especially mothers. I hope that today YOU get to treat yourself to a moment of refreshment and peace.
And now, back to reality….