Our daughter started kindergarten last week. Earlier this spring I learned how our county public schools use a “staggered start” for kindergartens. Essentially, this stagger start has incoming kindergarteners come to school in small groups once a week for two weeks prior to the first full day of school. I began immediately wondering what I would do during the gap between the time my daughter was no longer in daycare (per their age rules) and the time she started kindergarten. Not counting weekends, it amounted to 12 days. I work for my Dad, so I asked him if he’d allow me to work from home a few hours each day so that I could spend the rest of the time with my daughter. He agreed.
I was very apprehensive going into this adventure, but figured since I birthed her I should be able to determine how to fill our days and make this work.
See, at the end of my maternity leave in 2013, I went back to work. We had my daughter in daycare for a short while and then she ended up staying home with a nanny until she was 14-months-old. I will be the first to tell you that I’m just “not built” for staying at home raising babies.
However, fast forward four years and I figured it was time for me to make up for all that time I was at the office answering emails…
I made a loose plan for what the coming days would look like – places to visit, things to do, and ideas so we didn’t “waste time.” Then I had lunch with my Pastor who helped me see that while checking things off a list was what I viewed as a “success” when it came to the time I was going to have with my daughter, that I should instead remember that being together was as important to my daughter as what we did together.
I did my best to estimate in advance how each day would go, what activity we might do, how we might spend time at home, and how long I would work from home in order to stay caught up. The first week of working at home was filled with problems to solve and fires to put out, and it really zapped my energy from the time I was supposed to be spending with my girl. After five days however, I knew I couldn’t stand to lose any more precious time. The first few days of the next week I did better, but it still wasn’t quite what I had imagined.
Then one day, I figured out a balance.
My daughter tested me on some days. It was so, so hard. On some days we napped on the sofa, while on others we had so much fun, I never wanted the day to end. I am so glad I figured out how to make those 12 days work and that I didn’t miss a once in a lifetime chance to make up for what I’ve missed while she spent all those years in the care of someone else.