Before I even start, I’ll admit that I have mixed decisions about this topic. I referenced in this blog post that I wanted to be a photographer partly so I could do all my work while taking care of however many children we had with no issues. But when the rubber met the road and I actually had to do said work while taking care of said child, things changed.
For the first year, I made it through. At the beginning, while babies wake up at night, they also sleep during the day - and Willow has always been a great nap-taker. While I was tired and stretched, I was able to find time during the day to work. It also took a long time for Willow to crawl (7-8 months) and walk (14 months), and she was generally fairly content to play with toys. I still spent plenty of time with her, but I could also work while she was awake and took full advantage of this fact.
Right around 11 months old, though, things slowly started to change. As an infant, Willow had a lot of needs - eating, sleeping, diaper changes, and of course attention - but she didn’t have a lot of opinions. As she became a toddler though, she changed a lot. In the words of my friend who has a baby the same age, she had the needs of a baby and the attitude of a toddler. It became really, REALLY hard to get work done. Between her moving around a lot, getting into things, and in general just demanding my attention, I became more and more frustrated by the day.
Let me say this - Willow is a great kid. I truly mean that. She is a sweet girl with a huge personality and a charming, extroverted spirit. Toddlers are supposed to test their limits, get into things, and throw tantrums. She is still, in my opinion, a fairly easy kid to take care of, and I don’t want this blog to sound like a complaint. There are harder days and easier ones, but Willow is my dearest little gal pal and I love spending time with her.
The older she has gotten, though, the more I have realized that not getting help while I worked was proving impossible. Nothing had yet slipped in my business, but I was terrified that it would, and I would only have myself to blame for not taking action. So finally, after much debate, I joined our local YMCA.
This has been the best decision I made the whole year. At the Y, childcare is provided for 2 hours per day - whether or not you are actually working out. I may be the ONLY parent who comes with a laptop and no intention of hitting the gym, but the childcare workers watch Willow while I get work done. In fact, that’s where I am as I write this!
It wasn’t an easy decision. I didn’t want to spend extra money each month on a membership (but the cost is far less than any other childcare). I didn’t want to drop Willow off with someone else on a regular basis, since I’ve always taken care of her (but my little extrovert was begging to go in by day 2). Mostly, though, I just didn’t want to admit I need help and can’t do it all (which is crazy, considering I would never expect anyone else to do all the things!).
My days have been easier and better. Willow is thrilled and has her favorite people - she even learned how to blow kisses at the Y and does just that to the workers she loves the most. When Willow needs me, I have so much more to give, because I know my work time is coming. I have started to dream again in my business, re-invest time in education, and have uninterrupted (if not noisy) chances to crank work out. Plus, as soon as I get home, Willow goes down for a nap and I have another couple of hours.
It is my pride that kept me from admitting my weaknesses and needs for so long, and my only regret is that I didn’t realize this earlier. As I sit here typing, with Willow directly behind me and within eyesight, sipping a cold Coke Zero and checking things off my to-do list, I know that putting my pride aside was the best decision I have made all year.