Every once in a while, I take a day off work and I still send my kid to daycare. This probably only happens about twice a year, and since my son is only two, I only have two years of data. Actually, this probably only happened once during my son’s first year of life, after he went to daycare at the age of four months. That first year, all of my PTO (paid time off) days went to sick days, either for myself or my son, as my son, husband and I caught every cold that went around the daycare. I think I maybe had one day off which I used to catch up on laundry and deep cleaned my kitchen for the first time in months.
Now though, my son is two. We are in a stage of life that is so, so wonderful. And so, so exhausting. Every day — every minute — is full of wonder and curiosity as he continues to discover and classify the world around him. Which means I hear, “Mama, what is that?” roughly 1000 times a day. He’s also learning boundaries and potty training. Pretty normal stuff for a two-year-old and pretty tiring stuff for this mama who also works full-time. (And I imagine doubly so if you stay home during the day??) This is why every so often, I take a day off work and send the boy to school like normal. He doesn’t know any different and I get to recharge my batteries for eight glorious, silent hours.
Here’s a secret confession: not long after graduating with a degree in Education, I worked as a lead teacher at a daycare. And my young childless-self used to judge the moms just a little when they would come in, drop their kids off and mention they had the day off. Don’t you miss your kids?, I used to wonder. Don’t you want to be with them as much as you possibly can?, I thought.
But now I understand. We do want to be with them as much as we can, but we also want to run errands and take a shower by ourselves sometimes, and that’s okay!
If you’re wondering what I do on these rare days, it probably doesn’t sound that appealing. I fit in as many loads of laundry as I can and I get to do full cycles without having to run them through the washer or dryer more than once. I pull weeds in the yard before it gets too hot. I do things like change the sheets and scrub the shower. I actually have to force myself to sit for about 45 minutes in the morning and drink my coffee while I watch something on Netflix or read on the couch, before I let myself get up and do all the things that are let go during a normal week of work and parenthood. This is usually also the day I finally get to drop off the bag of stuff that’s been riding around in my car to our local donation center. Woohoo!
Now, let’s talk about the guilt.
I don’t have any! Ok, maybe I have a teeny, tiny, smidge. Of course I have a small niggling thought in the back of my head that I could be spending those extra eight hours with my son, and sometimes I do that! We take a day off together and just chill around the house and soak each other in. But mamas, don’t forget that sometimes, every once in a while, you need time for you, too. It’s hard to be a working mom — you spend multiple hours a week trying to be your best self for your company, and it’s hard to stop thinking about work and give 100% of yourself to your home and family. And then when you’re at work, it’s tough to stop wondering what your kid is doing at daycare, and how they’re eating and sleeping, and wonder if they ever miss you.