I’ve had a tough few weeks…and it’s wearing me down. My son has decided that he doesn’t like going to daycare anymore. He’s been going since he was about 10 months old. I had hoped these days would be over by now. I guess it isn’t to be.
What has ensued is tantrums and screaming in the parking lot. Fists clenched, iron claw grip on the car seat and me standing at the car door, toddler on hip, begging for him to just get out of the car. Please just get out and go inside.
I’m late for work (again). My heart is in a thousand pieces on the ground. I’m questioning my entire life situation in this moment. Please…just get out the car and go inside.
This escalates to dragging, screaming, pulling…more begging. Then we’re inside and his hands are around my neck. Clasped together. Unbreakable. Then the pleading starts. The “please don’t leave me. I just want to stay hoooommme. I love you mama. I want to stay home with you and daddy. I love staying home. Please can we just stay home?”
They tell me he’s fine 5 minutes after I leave. And I’m sure he is…but is he really?
This is what I do. The second guessing. The worrying. The guilt. The all-consuming nausea that is borne from thinking about your four year old suffering anxiety. Anxiety that your mind convinces you, is something you could prevent or protect him from if you were ‘just doing your job right’.
It feels like a lose-lose situation at times. So I guess it all comes down to keeping things in perspective – so much about parenting seems to come down to this! I’ve drilled down to the detail in an attempt to work out if it’s something specific about the daycare that he doesn't like (I have a lot of faith and trust in the carers so I really don’t have concerns around his safety or care). Upon further questions my son tells me it’s just “so boring” going to daycare, so I’ve given myself a quiet pat on the back for having such a super fun home ;) and chosen to focus on the fun aspects of daycare as a way of selling the benefits to him. We make sure we show and tell him how much he is loved and we try to provide consistent routines (giving him pre-warning of daycare days and stay-home days) in the hopes that this will help reduce his anxiety. I have also bribed him with strawberry flavoured tic-tacs ... this is probably my most successful tactic to date ;).
And in the quiet moments I try to remind myself that I’m doing the best I can to provide a safe, comfortable and loving environment for my children. Issues like childcare will always spark debates, so I try to focus on the one important factor – every situation has its positive and negatives. There is no right or wrong way. All you can do is trust your instincts and try your absolute hardest to provide a balanced lifestyle for your family, and an environment in which your children feel loved, cared for and important.