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Childcare

December 23rd, 2014
baby  [html]
Babies need full time attention and care, and Julia and I have tried several different arrangements with Lily. While I expect us to try several more, here's a summary of what we've liked and disliked about what we've tried so far.
Months 0 to 0.5: Both Home

There was a lot to get used to, we were very tired, and we wanted to spend as much time with our new baby as possible. She wanted to be held basically all the time, drifiting in and out of sleep, and we had a lot to figure out about what she wanted.

Months 0.5 to 5.5: Julia Home

This worked well for Julia; she liked the time with Lily, being able to go outside whenever she wanted, and being able to attend mothers groups that met during the day. I didn't see as much of Lily as I would have liked because most of her waking hours were while I was at work, but I was usually getting about two hours of playing with her in the mornings before I left for work.

Months 5.5 to 7.5: Jeff Home

Julia was wanting to get back to work at least part time so she could resume earning hours toward her license to work independently as a social worker, and we wanted to start having two incomes again. I had most of my paternity leave remaining, so for the next two months I was home while Julia worked. Having this period when I was the primary caregiver for Lily was really important to me. We shifted Lily's schedule later by blacking out the windows so Julia could have time with her in the evenings after work.

Months 7.5 to 8: Daycare

This was the first thing we tried that really didn't work. The biggest problem was that Lily would eat very little in daycare, maybe a third as much as she'd drink with me. This meant she was hungry, so she was grumpy most of the time. We thought it might get better over time as she and the daycare provider got to know each other, but instead Lily seemed to be building up an association with the daycare as a place she didn't enjoy. This was enough in itself, but additionally Julia and I weren't liking how little we were seeing of Lily, with commuting to and from daycare being about half of our waking time together each day.

Months 8 to present: Shifted Schedules

I shifted my schedule earlier while Julia cut back hours a little and shifted hers later. I'm now working 7am to 3:45pm while Julia works 4:30pm to 9:30pm four days a week plus Saturday mornings. Julia's commute goes right past my work, so on weekdays she brings Lily with her to Kendall station and I bring Lily back home with me. Despite the decrease in hours worked, this actually saves us a bit of money because there's no daycare. We're both really liking how much time this lets us have with Lily, and while we were initially worried about not seeing enough of each other this hasn't turned out to be a problem. [1]

Out of these different arrangements the current one seems the most practical. I'm working full time, Julia's working about ten fewer hours a week than before Lily, and we're both getting a lot of time with Lily. We don't know how long this will keep being a good fit for us, but so far we're happy.

Update 2017-12-03: follow-up, covering the next ~2 years


[1] Part of why is that I've been borrowing a car and picking Julia up at work most nights after Lily's asleep. This only works because we have a helpful housemate who's willing to hang out with Lily's baby monitor and take car of her if anything happens. At some point we're planning to move closer into the city, at which point there'll no longer be a car I can borrow but our commutes will also be shorter.

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