We have childcare!

Well, fingers crossed.

A few weeks ago, I secured a place in a local creche starting mid-October. I had left it until February to start looking and competition is keen, so I’m lucky to have found a decent one within a 10-minute walk. There is another creche literally across the road but there’s no room at that inn, at least for now.

I know for many of you, especially those in the US, it sounds like a complete luxury to be able to wait until 11.5 months to look to send a baby into the care of others. The creche takes babies from 3.5 months. I would have found that extremely hard, even if the baby doesn’t really mind at that age who’s doing the feeding and changing.

I had a tour of our place and it seemed lovely. We saw the babies, wobblers and Montessori-age kids and my boy dove straight into each room without fear, crawling into the melee and exploring. They don’t do half days in the afternoons, which would have suited me work-wise, but I can live with that. I toyed with going four days a week or full-time but have opted for mornings, five days a week, which gives you a maximum of six hours a day, though we are unlikely to be there at 7.30 in the morning.

This left us with a gap until the autumn. By sheer luck, my friend A suggested E, the wife of a colleague who lives 10 minutes away in the other direction. E hasn’t minded kids before but has a two-year-old and four-year-old of her own, perfect for my boy, and is there in the afternoons.

We visited last Friday and I loved her immediately – very thoughtful and kind and warm with the kids. The kitchen was bright and child-friendly. She had recommissioned the playpen and baby toys in preparation for us and it was all perfect. Except that my boy had an extremely unusual meltdown, possibly because it was 10am and he needed a nap. Or maybe he sensed that something was going on, who knows. This was after hilariously sitting on her kitchen floor and filling his nappy until his eyes watered. Between changing him on her kitchen sofa and fighting to hear over his wails (the poor soul was actually sobbing in the back of the car on the way home, so not like him), I got to know her a little and discovered we’re on the same wavelength about child-rearing.

We started a two-week trial, more for E’s benefit than mine really, on Wednesday this week. I was warned to expect some rocky days but, knowing my gut feeling about E and the whole setup was great, I was fairly relaxed. We opted for a shorter 1.5 hours for the three days this week so as not to blow my boy’s mind too much.

It wasn’t too bad at all. The poor kid was absolutely distraught for much of Wednesday, cheering up mainly for food; he was a little better on Thursday and gave E some smiles; and Friday went well after an initial wobbly when I left (standing on the street hearing your kid absolutely lose it with sadness and fear in someone else’s house and just leaving him to it is not nice).

I think we’re over the worst, though he could regress next week when we try longer hours or he realises this is a regular thing, if you can understand that concept at 11.5 months. All I can tell myself is that this stress is helping him head out into the big world. Of course, E may decide at the end of next week that she’s not interested. If she does, my boy will still have had a taste of life outside the home, which will be good for him in the long run.

The plan, if everyone is happy, is for E to have him four afternoons a week, from 2-5pm. The luxury of time to yourself in the afternoon! Already this week I’m more relaxed for having been able to get an hour’s solid work done not at night without guilt or a little person playing on my keyboard as I type.

I’ve done the sums and the cost of all this childcare until he starts school amounts to a cool €34k. Coincidentally, the same amount of money it took to conceive him in the first place. Are you noting this future teenage boy for the next time you throw a huge tantrum and say you wish you’d never been born??

As I drove home after dropping him off on Wednesday, my heart was BURSTING with a complicated mix of sadness that he was distraught without me and happiness that he was moving to the next phase. Which complicated mix of emotions pretty much sums up the average day of being a parent I guess.

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