Thursday, December 15, 2011

Getting Crafty

Okay, so I have been on an insane craft kick today. And I'm blaming it all on Pinterest. I have become slightly addicted to Pinterest lately and have gotten a lot of ideas and inspiration for kid's activities from the other pinners. Top that off with a trip to Michael's this morning to stock up on craft supplies and we have craft addiction. Sometimes I think I enjoy having a toddler more than my son enjoys being a toddler... So, here's a sampling:

A puzzle made with popsicle sticks and a recycled holiday card:

Simply glue a photo onto some popsicle sticks, wait for it to dry, then use a craft knife or razor blade to cut.

Homemade bath crayons:

Buy some glycerin soap at a craft store. Melt it in the microwave, add food coloring, and pour into a mold. I used an ice cube tray. You can also add essential oils if you go for scents, though I find that a bit unnecessary for bath crayons. Takes about an hour to cool completely, then pop out of the mold and you have crayons!

Color activity:

Swing by your local home improvement store and pick up some paint swatches. Cut them into strips and glue some pieces onto clothespins. Easy and CHEAP!

And a pom-poms in a bucket activity:

So easy: use an old plastic container (mine is a yogurt container). Cut holes in the top that are just smaller than the pom-poms. Your little one will get lots of fine-motor-skills practice pushing the pom-poms through the holes! And the Eskimo literally had a meltdown when I took this away from him for nap time. 

What's that? You want to do all of these too? By all means! HAVE FUN!! Also, if you're not already on Pinterest, you should be. :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I'm back

I have to admit, I've been avoiding my blog. Mostly because I've had a lot of really negative thoughts lately and I'm trying to think of a way to voice them without alienating every parent who puts their child in daycare. But I'm ahead of myself. Let's review:

The Eskimo and I did a stint in daycare. I got a job at a local daycare center, rated "the best in Austin". It seemed perfect. The Eskimo would be around other kids and I would be getting valuable experience for my future career as a teacher. The pay was awful, but I got an enormous discount for the Eskimo, so it seemed like a good plan. I lasted one month. The organization and administration was horrible. The training I was given was for some idealistic version of a daycare center and did not prepare me in the least for the reality with which I was faced. Promises for a pay increase, further training, etc, were made to me and then ignored. But worst of all, the longer I was there, the less I wanted my child enrolled there.

Don't get me wrong, the Eskimo had an amazing teacher. I trusted her with him and knew he was in good hands. But I also knew which class he would be moved up to in a couple of months and I didn't want that teacher anywhere near him. My son has a beautiful, kind spirit and I could see that being crushed if he stayed there. Aside from my concerns regarding my son, I was uncomfortable performing my job. During our training, we were told to have only positive interactions with parents. We were to find at least one thing their child did that day that was positive and communicate that to the parents. So, if their child spent the entire day crying, but drew a pretty picture for five minutes, I was supposed to keep my mouth shut about the sobbing and share only the picture. I found myself saying things like, "your child is having a little bit of a rough transition time, but this is totally normal and she played so nicely with her friends today!" to parents of a recently enrolled child who spent every single day sobbing all day. ALL DAY. If my child were crying all day, every day, I'd want to know the truth. True, some parents can't do anything about it. They have to work, and their child has to be in daycare. But if the Eskimo were having that difficult of a time, I would want to know and I would work something else out.

As it turns out, I did work something else out. I quit. After one month of working, I walked into the principal's office and gave my two weeks notice. She asked me why and I told her when you work at a job, you either have to be treated very well or paid very well. Preferably both. But if both of those elements are missing, it's not worth staying. And it's true.

I learned a lot in that month, but the most important take away was that I need to be home, caring for my son. Yes, it's difficult financially. There is absolutely no doubt about that. But he's my baby. And he doesn't care if we have a lot of money. I want him to spend all day, every day with someone who loves him more than the whole world. I want to be with him when he discovers little things. Just today he noticed that there were pictures of cows on his sippy cup. He starting pointing at them and saying "moooooo!". He made the connection between the pictures of cows he'd seen before and the cartoon cows on his cup, and I was there for it.

I also understand that for some parents and families, daycare is not an option, but a necessity. And spending all day feeling guilty about leaving your child in daycare will not help anyone. You do what you have to do. But my advice is to follow your instincts. Ask your child's teachers to be completely honest with you. Tell them that you want to know the bad as well as the good. Most of the individual teachers are very good people and will be responsive. And if you have a bad feeling about a teacher, trust your gut. Ask for your child to be placed in another class. Get to know the teachers; their likes, dislikes, their personality. See if it is a fit for your child. If possible, find a very small daycare run out of someone's home. Just be sure to do homework on them as well. Daycare centers are not ideal and I can guarantee you those folks are being paid minimum wage, or just above, and that the turnover rate is enormous. And believe me, minimum wage is NOT enough to deal with 10 2-year-olds all day long. Not even close to enough. Be informed, be involved, and if something doesn't seem right, make a change.

Lastly, if it is at all possible for you to stay home with your child, do it. Notice I said possible. I don't mean that it will be easy. Financially, it may be very difficult. But if it's possible, you should stay home. And being a stay-at-home-mom or dad is extremely difficult. I spend all day, every day with an 18 month old. Sometimes it's amazing, sometimes I want to put him in his crib, walk out the front door and never look back. But I'm here. And we have fun. We finger paint, we build with blocks, we go for walks to look at the cars and trucks. It's magical and he will only be young once. I have the rest of my life to work, I only have right now with my 18 month old son. I'm going to soak up every minute of it and file it away in my memories so that I can embarrass the hell out of him when he's a teenager. :)

And I'm sorry for the long hiatus. Aside from my quick time in daycare, I have also started work on my masters and I seem to spend every spare minute of my time studying or washing sippy cups and diapers. I have some really interesting future topics in the works, so I will try to post more frequently!