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Monday, January 17, 2011

Should you Stay or Go? - to work, that is

Believe it or not - I don't favor one side over another. I think if you choose to stay home and raise your kids, it is a great choice, but I also think it is a good choice if a parent NEEDS, or WANTS to return to work. I stayed home, and for us that wasn't the original plan, - I had to go back to work. After my harrowing delivery experience with Gage (I almost nearly died) the doctor wanted to make sure I had fully recovered, so I was continued on maternity leave an additional 10 weeks on top of the 8 for c-sect (normally it is 6 weeks, but my company gave 8). We also decided to use the FLMA (Family Leave / Materity Act). At some point, the company fired me while on FLMA,- Due to conditions of a legal agreement I am not allowed to discuss the situation any further. So, I got all this time off, then started to collect unemployment while trying to find something suitable for baby and me. There was nothing out there at the time (like there is today). I technically had to start over and it would just be about enough to pay for daycare. Maybe walk away with $50.00 a week. To me it wasn't worth putting my child into daycare and miss everything for $50.00 a week. I did keep my eyes open though.

Being home with a child and not having that access to adult conversations really did a lot of damage to my own self esteem. It was hard making new friends - everybody worked during the day, being home with a colicky crying baby for 24 hours a day (alright you got me exaggerating again, I am sorry - it was close to 18 hours a day then) and trust me when I say a baby does NOT make a great companion (Not much has changed now that they are older either, LOL - maybe because they are boys) I mean really how often can you sing "I am a little teapot ..." "the insi whincy spider went up the water ..." I think you get the idea. That Barney song just drove me absolutely insane and our home had a Barney Ban (If you're not sure of who Barney is - he sang "I love you, you love me..." just sickening annoying purple dinosaur).

If I could have the chance to redo things - I would have found any job and put all my kids (maybe not Addison - because, he spent the majority of his first two years in the hospital, so I probably would have gotten fired anyway) in daycare. I absolutely think if I had done daycare, the special needs I am encountering now would be at best minimal. I think daycare is a positive stimulating environment for children with special needs. I bet if a study was done on children and disabilities - the disabilities would be less severe with all that school stimulation at an early age. I can't change it back now, but it makes me wonder ... what if...

Not that you asked, but here is my food for thought: If your life screams two incomes than that is what you need to do. Remember, having a baby/child is stress, so if you add finances to that mix and then life starts to happen as in Murphy's Law the chance of your marriage surviving is very low. If it looks like doing daycare is only going to give you less than $100 per bi-weekly payments - the option of going back to work may not be viable. I suggest to cut out services to bare minimum items, like land line phone - especially if you have mobile. Only carry basic cable to get local programming (remember it won't always be this way). Never buy anything at full price, use coupons, shop around for best prices, make a list of needs, wants, must have, and save for. Put them in order according to how bad you want the items. Try to take at least $20.00 @ every paycheck and put it away, never touch - if you can't do that (like us) put all change in HUGE container and in a few short years this will be your vacation money. Everything is about budget and changing a lifestyle to be home with your child.

Another way of working around not paying for daycare (at first) is - work @ home. Become a licensed home day care provider, if that doesn't suit you; offer tutoring, after school care (for older kids); teach music lessons (if you play an instrument); there are legal services looking for people type court hearings. They have delivery services from door to door and best of all, you get paid to type and be with your child. The worst mistake is to locate one of those too good to be true business opportunities, Don't DO IT. If you have to pay to buy in, FORGET about it. Companies are looking for telecommuters, in this day and age, to work from home. Beware, because these companies expect you to work normal business hours and some babies could make it difficult (really depends on the baby's personality) without securing full day daycare. You also have to be a very motivated AND a dedicated worker, for this arrangement to work out.

Being home with your child or children does open up windows to finish or better your career, of course, this option cost money to finish or further your education - the trade off here is that the government, today is wanting to help those people who are willing to work for that grant money, it is often viewed as difficult to get it, but if you don't give up this could be the best viable option for the whole family.

Just as electronics are changing by leaps and bounds daily, requirements for our children's education change equally as fast. I think the best option, today, is that children attend daycare by age 3 (at the absolute latest, I recommend 18 months - 2 years). Gone are the days of doing two days a week, they need to be there all 5 days in order to get the most out of. Believe it or not, the kids learn to sit, follow their peers, stay on task at such an early age, that if your child misses this part of learning, the chances of an ADHD or ADD diagnoisis is increased by about 70% to 80%. It is ok, to do half days - but to get the full benefits of starting early with education is to have them enrolled 5 days a week. Mornings are best for young children, they are bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to go after having a 8-12 hours of sleep. Going to school in the afternoon (after a two hour nap) well, you take a nap and see how you are able to focus and sit to learn something - it is difficult.

To summarize everything - If you have to work, WORK! If you choose to stay home, be sure to enroll your child as soon as possible in daycare/nursery school to get that education stimulation as early as possible. If you are at home, make the best of the time for both you and your family. Research all grants and take advantage of them. It will be work, to get it; but the pay off could be huge. If you absolutely need an income - research your area. Believe it or not your local Child Protective Services center (CPS) will have the absolute MOST amount of information for your area - good place to start your research. They should have information on jobs (becoming a licensed home day care provider), plus many other options. Your local college institution should also have a lot of resources, even if you are NOT a student. If you have a service to provide to other students, this is a good start to get your name out there for free.

I wish many blessing to any family that reads this and hope that it enables you to discover options that are best for your own family. While these are my own beliefs, please don't shoot the messenger, these are just my thoughts. Before making a commitment please do all of your own research, I would hate for a family to rid all of their splurge expenditures to find out that ends still can't be met. No matter your choice, life is hard - be sure you live to the fullest you can. Live with the attitude of "Can do anything". and Live well my friends, live well.

Do all the good you can... To all you can... and as often as you can... Blessings, Diane

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