It’s been a busy few years since having baby number 1 in 2015 and baby number 2 in 2017. And now somehow it is 2019, a year which I never really made plans for, and I’m in my 30s!
I decided to come back to my blog to share a bit more about what life looks like as a AMWF (or WWAM) family for us now. But I came across some drafts I wrote in 2017, and thought I’d publish those snippets first. This one is about the decision of who looks after your child if you decide to go back to work:
So toddler Z is almost 2 years old and baby 2 is on the way. Just by chance I had a chance to return to the UK for a month and this gave me a chance to put toddler Z into nursery in the UK for a few weeks.
My Chinese mother-in-law had recently declared him too young to go to daycare, but since it was the only option if he was going to come with me, and Z was supportive, we had to agree to disagree. Kids in the UK and much of the Western world have to go to daycare earlier than this anyway (often before one year old) as grandparents have different priorities in life, without the proximity, health, or desire to go back to full-time childcare.
It’s so funny to read back on this, and think back to myself as a first time parent. It’s a genuinely difficult time. As a second time parent I am much more sure of myself.
My son (the eldest) is now 4 and attends pre-school. But I am so grateful that he didn’t have to go as a baby, and had a much more gradual introduction to formal childcare settings. His current pre-school which he has attended for about 2 months really suits him and I don’t have to push him at all, he’s keen to go. When he was about 1y10m he had his first experience of nursery, and that was very difficult for him (but circumstances meant it was the only option, though short term). At 2y4m he went to nursery again, this time for 4 months but just 2 mornings a week. It was a bit easier for him and he was relatively settled. At 3y3m he got to try his first Chinese nursery, although it was marketed as an English speaking Montessori nursery. He did quite well and it was a short term arrangement. Finally at 3y5m he joined nursery on a long term basis, and he was more that ready. Bit I think the fact that in between all of these experiences he returned to his Chinese grandmother’s care was key, because it was stable.
If as a first time parent I could see the way our family and childcare situation has turned out, I would not feel good about it. At that time I did not want my mother-in-law to have such an involvement in our lives. But almost 2 years into being a second time parent, I can see how much I’ve changed. My mother-in-law has been a crucial presence in getting us through the incredibly tough stage of having babies and toddlers (while maintaining some kind of career). Her input is different to what I thought it would be. And she has been the most dependable support since I had my children.
Just to complete the picture, my daughter (the little one) is 1y7m and hasn’t ever been to childcare yet. She has either been looked after by me or her Chinese grandmother all her life. And in a few weeks begins the next stage: my brave husband is going to stay at home with them for a little while. And I feel when she does go to childcare, she’ll be so much better prepared than as a baby.
In contrast to my expectations and priorities as a first time mum, I can see now how incredibly fortunate I am, and how pleased I am with the choices we’ve taken till now. There really is nothing like a 奶奶.