What I Know Now.

I recently toilet trained my three-year-old with minimum fuss and maximum success. I am not boasting here although I admit it does sound that way. I am writing about it because what struck me when she finally decided she was ready to be trained was the difference between what I ‘knew’ working as a childcare professional and what I know being a mother of three.

No more nappies!

No more nappies!

What I ‘knew’ working in crèches was that all children can be toilet trained from the age of two and that the sooner you do it, the easier it is and the better for them. I ‘knew’ that the parents that resisted training their children were not doing them any favours. We always made sure that the children were intellectually ready to be trained, training was approached by both the crèche and the family at the same time, patience and keeping cool were the name of the game and nine times out of ten they succeeded according to our timeline.

What I know now, is that although children can be trained from that age they don’t need to be trained that early. There was always pressure to train children before they started in pre-school /Montessori classes  because the teachers either didn’t have time or were not willing to change nappies. I know now that parents who resisted the crèche timetable were absolutely looking out for their child and I would love the opportunity to shake hands with them now.

If I were to do it all again I would absolutely scrap training children according to the crèche timetable and encourage training each child when they felt ready for it. Waiting until the child chooses to start using the toilet makes for an easier, faster and healthier transition in the developing child’s life.

What I ‘knew’ working in crèches was that hungry children will eat. Now I am not talking about starving the children or giving them tiny portions – in spite of what sometimes gets highlighted in the media most people working in childcare have a genuine love of children and are actively interested in encouraging the growth and development of the children in their care. I know, imagine that! One of the side effects of running a busy crèche is that most of the day is timetabled so as to ensure that the day runs smoothly. So wherever I worked, there was at least a two hour gap between breakfast-snack-lunch-snack. With organised activities and free play in between, it generally meant that the children ate what they were given, happily and heartily.

Big,expensive, unhealthy snacks means...

Big,expensive, unhealthy snacks means…

What I now know is that, when you are at home with your child there is no timetable and you can find yourself (myself ) giving them a snack an hour – not necessarily a healthy snack either – and then when it comes to their main meal they are not hungry and don’t eat. So in this case it is better to take a leaf out of the crèche books to encourage healthy eating. Keep to set mealtimes and either eliminate or reduce the amount of snacks they have.

20150401_091759

..anarchic mealtimes!

What I ‘knew’ working in crèches was that TV was not good for children. When I opened my own crèche I didn’t even install a television on the premises, there were enough staff and activities planned that there was no need to turn on a television. Quiet time was story time or singing songs.  And when I gave up work I would allow maybe 30 minutes of television a day.

My plans.

My plans.

What I know now is that television is one of the best inventions ever – actually, strike that – Sky+ is the best invention ever as you can ensure your child never misses their favourite programme during the two to three hours television they watch a day! 😉

My reality.

My reality.

What have you learnt since becoming a parent?

Thanks for reading

Aisling

Women’s Work

back to workAs if it is not hard enough to come to terms with becoming a parent, mothers have the added stress of deciding whether or not to go back to work; or indeed, having to go back to work when they really, really don’t want to. The reality is that whatever you decide, don’t let yourself be eaten up with pointless and unnecessary guilt.

I always knew that I wanted to stay at home when I had children. Over the years working as a nanny and in creches, I witnessed the stress that mums heap on themselves, including the gut-wrenching scenes that ensued when they dropped their baby into the creche for the first time. ‘Not for me’, I thought. Then I set up my own creche.

I loved my little creche, and loved giving my all to create a homely atmosphere for the children who attended. Three years after opening my own business, I got pregnant with my first child. ‘No problem’ I hear you say. What better industry to be in when expecting a baby? Ready made child-care! Unfortunately, due to space restrictions, my creche could only take children from 18 months. I was lucky though, as I had two very helpful and willing Grannies to mind Caoimhe for me until she was old enough to attend the creche. Sorted! The only problem was that I absolutely did not want to go back to work. However, ‘Aisling Childcare’ needed to have Aisling at the helm. We also needed the money! So I made my plans to drop Caoimhe to either Granny and moved shifts around to make it work, and as D-day approached I became more and more leaden. ‘No, I do not want this. Why am I abandoning my child to mind other peoples childen?’

Guess what happened on my first day back? Nothing! Caoimhe was with my Mum, I went back to work and truth be told, I loved it! I picked Caoimhe up at the end of the day and she was absolutely fine too!! 😉 I had to go through the mill all over again when I became pregnant a second time, less than two years later. Caoimhe was settled in the creche but again I wanted to be at home! My husband was made redundant during this preganancy so keeping the creche open became essential. Luckily, I didn’t have to rush around this time as my husband could and did take care of Conan. When I became pregnant with my third child, I closed the creche – partly due to the recession, but also because I really did want to be at home, and Paul had a new job! At last I was living the dream, right? I woke up on that first morning at home swamped in panic, struggling with a massive identity crisis, and filled with self-doubt. It took me at least three months to come to terms with being the stay-at-home-mum I had always wanted to be. The grass always seems greener on the other side, eh?

Professional mothers are providing for their family but can often feel like they are abandoning their babies, and they run around like headless chickens constantly trying to be everything to everyone. Inevitably, they run themselves into the ground but feel unable to take sick leave as precious time-off has to be kept for when their children are sick! Professional mums have to get up extra early to do the often long commute to work, dressing to the nines every day when all they want is that extra few minutes in bed and to dress for comfort. They read articles on how the best thing for their child is to have someone constant to mind them, which they interpret as ‘you are being so selfish, just worrying about your precious career and fobbing your children off on someone else’.

Stay-at-home mums feel like they are doing the best for their child but can often feel resentful towards husbands and friends that get to continue in the workplace – people who get to be called by their first name as opposed to ‘Mam’ or ‘Conan’s Mum’. Professional mums get to wear nice clothes, go out for lunch, and have the opportunity to discuss the latest episode of Game of Thrones. Stay-at-homers can dress up too, but heels and pencil skirts are just not conducive to cleaning up spills or crawling around playing hide-and-seek. Stay-at-home mums tend to have working lunches every day, usually trying to keep the peace rather than chat about the latest news story!

So when I meet parents nowadays who choose to continue their career or choose to stay at home, or who have to work as staying at home is not an option, what advice would I give them? Trust your instincts! Whatever you decide to do will be the right choice for you and your family. Whatever decision you make, accept it and enjoy your life. An unhappy parent can inadvertently have a negative effect on their child. So no matter what you end up doing, whether you spend just a few hours or all day with your child, never mind the quantity, just enjoy the quality of that time!

This was supposed to be a post about choosing child-care but I lost the run of myself! Next post will be about that though, I promise. 🙂

Thanks for reading,

Aisling

I love feedback, please leave any thoughts and comments below. 

 

 

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