By Teresa Taylor
Daycare Failure: two words that panic any working mother. We work to split ourselves from our maternal feelings, and we theorize that if we have a system of day care for our children, with numerous backup and contingency plans, it will allow us to be at our workplace’s beck and call, to meet every demand, and to run at any pace.
We also work on the belief that if we find the right people and create the right depth to our system, it will immunize us against feelings of guilt or inadequacy when it comes to our kids. This belief is as readily available as office coffee. Just when we feel that we have a smooth rhythm and some assembly of peace, something goes sideways.
I thought I had found the perfect person to come to my home to take care of my first son. She had great references and was a co-worker’s daughter. However, after a few weeks my son cried when I put him in his favorite swing, when I called during the day she took too long to answer the phone, and I noticed that she cooked way too much for one person to eat in one day. All little signs that something wasn’t right. So, I did what any nervous mother would do—I showed up unexpected in the middle of the day! (At that time we did not have nanny cameras)
The look on the women’s face would have been priceless had it not been my home and my child she was responsible for. She was cooking a feast in the kitchen while my son was in another room still in his spoiled morning diaper. He had fallen asleep in the swing — obviously from crying too long. So, for the first time I understood and had all-consuming rage that was enough to remove appendages, limbs and heads. I don’t remember the exact language that I used when firing her, but it was strong enough to send her running for the door.
I just fired the nanny! Now what? I was supposed to be back at my office for a meeting in an hour. Maybe your child is in an in-home or school daycare setting, in any case, here are three steps to help you move to a solution if you just had daycare failure:
- Drop the guilt – your child is the one number priority and you make the best decisions with the information that you have. When you get new information you need to act on it, even though you don’t have an immediate next step. Don’t feel guilty, move on!
- Ask for help – the hardest thing to do is ask for help. The fact is, you did the best you could to provide daycare. Now is the time to put your pride away and ask a family member or friend to help out. Maybe this is the time to have the in-laws visit for a week or take an unplanned stay-cation.
- It is a two-way street – you have a partner in finding this solution – the kid’s father. It is time to engage him more than he may have been during the school year. This is not just your issue to solve – it is a family issue. Both of you are going to have to adjust while you are searching for another alternative. Meet in the middle and find a schedule that works for everyone.
Adversity comes in all sizes and shapes and happens at both home and work. An old saying buy writer Charles Swindoll goes: “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.”
There are many daycare alternatives, some temporary and some more long-term. Choose what is best for you at the time and then adjust when needed. You really can’t have success in one area of your life without having success in the others. It is all about creating alternatives, options, and backup plans, and it’s about asking for help. You can’t take the mother out of the career woman or the career out of the mother, so use both to your advantage.
About the Author:
Teresa Taylor is a nationally recognized, Fortune 200 executive who brings integrity, focus, vision and agility to corporate leadership, while advising companies, government agencies and others on a successful business model. Her book, The Balance Myth: Rethinking Work-Life Success, is inspiring women to succeed professionally and personally. You can find her at www.TeresaTaylor.org.