Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Adulting after Baby

As I mentioned in my pumping post, I feel completely unqualified to give advice on motherhood, because I've been doing it for just a few months.  But I'm more than willing to share what I've been going through as I've transitioned back to work, navigated motherhood, and more!  #adulting #momlife

I put down a deposit at a daycare center near our apartment when I was 15 weeks pregnant; I hadn't even told my boss yet!  Where we live, if you don't act quickly, you get waitlisted and sometimes have to move from one center to another.  Ever the planner, I scheduled multiple daycare tours the same day that I had an OB/GYN appointment in the middle of the day, and I took a day off work so I wouldn't feel rushed or guilty about stepping away.

What did I look for in a daycare?  Honestly, I just went with my gut, and I only toured places where my coworkers have enrolled their own kids.  Most spots in our area are priced similarly.  I looked for happy babies, cleanliness, convenience to our home, and overall feeling.  I instantly fell in love with our daycare; I actually got a little teary-eyed in one of the infant rooms because it looked so sweet, and that's the same room Kenny is in today!

Nannies, family, and a stay-at-home parent are all options for childcare when one parent works.  But since we're a dual-working household with no family in-state, daycare or a nanny were our options.  I am so pleased with our daycare, as I can see that Kenny is cared for, stimulated, and learning... in just a few weeks we could see his development in positive ways!

Need more toys...

We don't live near family, so having them around for childcare is not an option.  There are apps and websites you can subscribe to in order to find a babysitter, but for me it was super easy... word of mouth!  My coworker gave me the contact info for FOUR of her babysitters, and I was able to look them up on Facebook because they were her friends there.  Having a bona fide recommendation and being able to put a face to a name really helped.  I wanted to attend my DAR meeting on an evening that Dan was at a work event, so I hired a babysitter for three hours.  She was wonderful, and she had no issues getting Kenny down to sleep.  If she had questions, she texted me.

While we've only used a babysitter once so far, just knowing it's an option gives us a feeling of independence and levity.  It costs a pretty penny, but sometimes it's worth calling for help!

Travel without Baby
I went on my first overnight trip for work, and it was smooth sailing!  I gave Dan a couple of weeks advance notice, so he could adjust his work schedule to handle both daycare dropoff and pickup.  Kenny was great, and they seemed to enjoy some quality bonding time!  Dan even sent a photo of them twinning in matching shirts.  I FaceTimed with them before Kenny's bedtime, and Dan made sure to send me plenty of pictures.  Our daycare also sends photos throughout the day, so honestly I didn't go more than a couple of hours without seeing or hearing my sweet baby.

While I was away, I didn't fret or cry... I let myself be me.  I saw old friends, took a hot shower, watched HGTV, and slept like a baby in a king-sized hotel bed.  I took my time getting ready and walked around.  Recharging my batteries like that was perfect, and when I got home, my happy guys were there to greet me.

Picture sent during my work overnight trip

Road Trip with Baby
We had a smooth first road trip with Kenny, 4.5 hours each way.  We chose to depart around Kenny's bedtime, putting him in PJs and feeding him before we hit the road.  He slept the entire way, even when we stopped once for a bathroom break, then slept the rest of the night once we arrived.  My parents already had a pack 'n' play at their house ready for him.  They also had toys and an activity mat (we'd received a second one as a gift) ready to go.  Mom has also picked up items at garage sales, like storage drawers for toys and a booster, so we have less to haul!

On both drives, one of us sat in the backseat in case Kenny woke up.  We had toys and other things ready for him, and on the return trip (which was in the daytime) we also had a bottle prepped so we could feed him while he was buckled in his seat.  We chose to leave when we saw Kenny getting sleepy after eating, and it worked; he woke up about 45 minutes from home.  So we stopped and fed him, and I kept him entertained.  It was smooth sailing, though I know it might be different once he is older and awake more!

Waking up to see Mommy

I'm working on friendship.  I don't get to go to all of the happy hours and things I used to!  Mostly, text messages have been the best.  I tell my friends, leave me a message and I promise I'll text back, even if it's at 4am.  And that has sustained me thus far.  I do see my friends at work and DAR events, and even on maternity leave I'd tote Kenny along and meet for lunches.  I just can't do things at the drop of a hat anymore, and I've had to come to accept that.

I think that Dan and I talk more now than ever, because sharing childcare responsibilities requires it!  I love that I don't have to ask him to do things.  If I'm playing with Kenny, he'll wash bottles for the next day.  If he's taking out the trash, he always checks the diaper pail.  We don't really have assignments for who does what, but it works... we ask one another what needs to get done, what Kenny needs for daycare the next day, whether his laundry needs done.  And since Kenny goes to sleep around 7-8pm, we can usually manage to stay awake at least an hour to talk to one another about our day or just stare at our adorable baby.

We try to do little things for one another.  Dan made sure my first Mother's Day was sweet.  And when I had a business lunch near Dan's work, I popped in and sat with him while he ate his lunch.  It was like 10 minutes, but it was 1-on-1 time and a nice surprise for him.

We also take advantage of our monthly visits with my parents, either when they come to us or when we go to them!  They always push us out the door for a date night, which is usually a nice sit-down dinner and a drink.  We've managed to have a date night once a month ever since Kenny was born, and it's something we intend to continue!  I used to worry about our marital happiness when it came to having a baby, because honestly children aren't always great for marriage (read the statistics!).  But we're really happy right now, and that makes it all easier.

This photo is unrelated to my content.  It's extraneous.

The thing that has helped the most in our daily routine?  Our daycare opens at 6:30am, which is about the time that Dan leaves home for work.  Initially I hesitated to have Dan drop Kenny off, because if I did it, Kenny would have an extra 60-90 minutes at home with me before my commute.  But then I realized, if Dan drops Kenny off, I have time in the morning to make myself breakfast, clean the house, get ready, even work out (once I get back on that horse).  My coworker, mother of four boys, told me, "Don't feel guilty about not getting that extra hour with him; all he was going to do was sit in a bouncer watching you get ready in the morning!"  And she's right.  Guilt absolved!

By having Dan drop Kenny off, and me picking him up, it not only allows us both a chance to interact with his daycare providers, but a chance for me to take care of myself and our home so there isn't as much to do in the evening.  I don't feel like a hot mess at work, and I have more energy for Kenny when I get him at the end of the day, because I've already done dishes, vacuumed, or whatever.  I can also really take my time getting Kenny ready in the morning while Dan gets ready, because I'm relaxed in my pajamas and focused solely on him.

I honestly didn't have very much trouble taking Kenny to daycare, leaving him with a sitter, even going away for an overnight.  I didn't cry, but I did miss him.  The hardest part about going back to work was getting used to staring at a computer screen all day and feeling tired after using my brain all day!  I felt like I got a personal boost once I had help with Kenny's childcare, because suddenly I had more freedom to grab lunch, go shopping, run errands, cook, clean, etc. in my spare moments.  It also makes me feel more motivated to do things with him on the weekends.  I do think it helped that I put Kenny in daycare on a Monday, but started work on that Thursday.  It gave me a few days to pick him up early if I wanted/get prepared for work.  It also meant I only had to survive two days in the office before a weekend break.  I highly recommend it!

Final Thoughts
My sister called me the other day, simply to tell me she was proud of me for the mother I've become.  I think she really expected me to be full-on obsessive and rigid as a parent, because I've always been such a planned and calculated person.  But she said she can tell Kenny is thriving, and that we're doing well with him.  It felt like the best thing I could have heard at that moment in time.  I know that babies can internalize how we are feeling, and even sense when we enter the room.  And I want positive energy only for Kenny, because he's going to battle sickness, teething, growth spurts, and more.  Adulting is hard, and parenting makes it harder.  But we're finding our groove and keeping on!

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