Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Obsessions: To Do Lists

I love To Do Lists.  I can't function without them.  I keep lists on my smartphone, I keep handwritten lists all over the house.  In my attempt to organize, I create disorganization in having too many To Do lists.

I get so much satisfaction from To Do Lists that I'll write down items that I've already completed just so I can cross them off.

With my recently acquired mommy brain, I am even more dependent on my To Do lists -- they give me permission to not remember.  All I have to do is find my list and review it.  Review and update, review and update.

I think my love of To Do lists come from a cousin affection: having a physical organizer/planner.  I've had a personal planner since I was in grade school.  My addiction started out with using my daily planner to keep track of homework assignments, and has morphed into a method for tracking short term and long term goals which would otherwise be forgotten about, only to be revisited over and over again in an interminable recycling of resolutions, never to be resolved.

In today's world of electronic gadgets, my smartphone is used for making phone calls and surfing the web.  But I still rely on my trusting paper and pen to document all that requires effort: daily tasks, long term tasks, thoughts of the moment.  In the end my planner doubles as a personal journal and a living document of who I was that day and who I hope to be the next day, the next month, the next year.

I don't think I'll ever be able to give up my planner and I'm proud of it.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Nannycare to Daycare: Week Two

So begins our second full week of daycare.  

By the end of last week, my son was doing better at his new daycare (read about my initial thoughts on our switch from nannycare to daycare).  Of course, two days of rain didn't help: all the kids were a little antsy from being stuck indoors all day.  On the flipside, we got to experience our first Colorado thunderstorms which were fun.  Not too much thunder and lightning but enough to get my son to spend a whole day saying, "Thunder!  Thunder!"

After a three day weekend together, my son seemed better: less of the whining, less anxiety about being left alone for even a moment's notice.  And then, Monday happened.

We went with our usual routine: wake up around 6:30am, and while my husband is getting ready for work, I eat breakfast with my son and get him dressed for school.  As soon as we got his backpack out and started pulling everything together for school, he ran to his room, grabbed some of his favorite stuffed animals, and huddled close to his books.  We had to carry him to the car.

When I came to pick him up that afternoon (and I tried to get there a little early), I found a teary-eyed little boy sitting in the corner of his classroom.  As soon as he saw me, he jumped up and hugged me.  Then he turned around, and to nobody in particular, said, "Bye bye!".

The rest of the afternoon my son exhibited all kinds of odd behavior (some of which we've seen the last week or two).  I needed to get grocery shopping and dinner done and he didn't want to have any of it.  He had a few moments of cooperation but many moments of running up to me in the kitchen, grabbing my leg, hugging me, and other such behavior which is new and just breaks my heart.

Drawbacks of Daycare
I know that he misses his old life (nanny, whom he trusted) and I've found some articles that have confirmed that moving to full-time daycare may not be the best setup for a toddler.  I've found one article that suggests that limited daycare is better and I'm thinking about moving to a situation where I send my son to daycare for the morning and have him at home.  That would have worked with our old setup in California where we had a nanny come to our house 8am-5pm four days a week.  I work from home four days a week right now and am planning to move up to five days a week.

We're in temporary housing right now which means our current home is very small (read: apartment).  Once we've moved into a more permanent home, I think I'd like to look into hiring an afternoon nanny who can pick my son up from daycare and bring him home where I think he'll nap better.  I have doubts that my son is napping more than an hour each afternoon.  If he is anywhere as anxious at lunchtime as he is when I pick him up at 3:30pm, I doubt that he is comfortable enough to nap.

The other thing I've noticed is that he is always ravenous when I pick him up.  I find this odd because he gets fed a snack in the morning, the lunch I pack up for him at noon, and then another snack right after their nap.  Maybe he's not getting that afternoon snack?  Or not eating it?

We get daily reports from daycare that provide notes on their activities that day, how many times their diapers were changed, what they ate, and how long they napped.  There are days where I don't feel like my son's behavior matches the feedback on the report.  We've only been there for a week and a half and I don't want to be that "difficult parent".  The one who is asking too many questions and super worried about their child.

For now it's a waiting game.  Wait to see if my son gets more comfortable.  Wait to see if we move into a real house sooner than later.  And until then, I'll keep researching on how to make my son more comfortable with daycare and how to deal with his separation anxiety.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Happy Dance: First Run in Denver

Ten days after arriving in our new home, I finally went for a run.

With summer fast approaching, I've made a promise to myself that I am going to ease back into running.  The last race I ran was a half marathon in Chicago in August 2010.  That year I ran 8 races (1 marathon, 5 half marathons, a 15K and a 10K).  Since then, I haven't run much.  Last year, when my son turned one, I tried to get back into running.  It didn't happen.

San Francisco has great places to run, don't get me wrong.  But I didn't make it a priority to get out regularly.  I had a good 2 month stretch last fall, and after the holidays I never got back into it.

Now that I'm in Denver, I've made a new pledge to try again.  One thing I've noticed is people are really active here.  Other places I've lived that have had a high number of active people: San Diego and Hawaii.  I really hope that all these active Denverites motivate me to get out there!

Today's run wasn't so much a run, but more of a run-walk.  Using the methods the San Diego Track Club taught me the two years ago when I trained with them for marathons, I'll slowly work up to longer runs.  Right now my goal is to just get out there and run-walk for 30 minutes, four to five times a week.  Once I've done that consistently, I'll move onto longer runs on the weekends.

Fingers crossed...

Friday, May 3, 2013

From Nannycare to Daycare

The first week of daycare is over.

When my husband and I learned ten weeks ago that we would be moving from California to Colorado for a great job opportunity, we took the time to assess and agree that now that our son is close to two years of age, it would be a good time to move from nannycare to daycare.  For the past year, our son has spent four days of every week with a wonderful caregiver who dedicated more energy and love into caring for my son than I could have ever wished for.  Every morning, Jennifer* would show up at 8am, and the three of us would spend about 15 minutes together having a little breakfast and chatting (mostly about my son: how did he sleep last night?  Did he have any breakfast yet?  What are the activities for the day?).  Then I would pack up and head out for my "commute": a 30-second walk to our in-law suite, separate from the house, where I could work, undistracted and fully focused.  I love working at home, not just for the convenience of not having to go through the daily traditions required to commute to an office but mostly because I could see my son throughout the day (this was especially helpful when I was still nursing).

*Not her real name

What I'll Miss about Nannycare
When it was time to say goodbye to Jennifer, I realized then and there, that the relationship I had developed with her, was by far, the most important one in those first two years as a new parent.  The convenience of having someone come to your home to take care of your child is eclipsed by the experience of having someone become a part of your family.  Although I was working at home, I did see alot of Jennifer, and seeing how much effort she put into the care of my son, I grew very fond of her.  Being a first-time parent, I learned quite a bit from Jennifer.  I appreciated that she never dictated what I should do as a parent, but would provide suggestions.  I never felt judged for my parenting.

I also grew to like Jennifer as a person.  At first, I found it awkward to have a stranger in my house, as I've never hired anyone for any services: housecleaning, gardening, etc.  Over time, as we got to know each other, there were certain subjects we both enjoyed.  Firstly, my son.  We also both enjoyed food and would both contribute to meals.  It wasn't long, where, after enough lunchtime gatherings, we were comfortable with one another.

The Transition to Daycare
Which brings me to daycare.  Up until last week, I could see my son regularly throughout the day.  Not anymore.  If my work day wasn't too busy, I would occasionally eat lunch with my son and Jennifer.  With my son at daycare, I am now all alone in our new (temporary) housing.

The worst part of moving to daycare is the separation anxiety my son goes through when my husband or I drop him off for the day.  Taking advice from other friends who have their children in daycare, we decided to start off with a half week this week: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  To make it even less stressful on my son (at least, this was my thinking), I have been picking up around 3pm, right after naptime, to keep his days on the shorter side.

Tuesday my son and I took a half hour tour of the facility.  We even had a chance to explore his new classroom together by ourselves, as his soon-to-be classmates were out at the playground.

Wednesday I brought him in, spent the recommended time playing with him for 15-20 minutes and then I left.  I swear I could hear his cries all the way to the car.

Thursday I had my husband drop our son off.  I got a text later that morning: that was one of the most heartbreaking moments so far.

Friday I had dropoff duty.  This time I spent half an hour with my son.  Then I firmly announced that mama had to go bye bye but that she would return this afternoon.  More crying.  But this time, not as loud.

I know it will continue to get easier.  It's hard to not want to comfort your child.  I know that with each day, as long as I return, he will eventually come to understand that he is not being abandoned but being brought somewhere where he can play with other children his age.  I long for the day when he will be excited about going to see his friends at "school".

Do you have children in daycare?  At what age did your kids start daycare?  What did you find helped them learn to "accept" going to daycare? 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Hello, Colorado!

We have arrived!  This past weekend, my husband loaded up a U-Haul trailer with enough belongings to get us by for the next 6 months in our temporary corporate housing, and drove over 1200 miles from our old home in the Bay Area to our new home in Colorado.  My husband spent 21 hours in the car, not including rest times.  My son and I flew the same distance in a mere 2.5 hours, but door-to-door, the entire trip was 4 hours.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining.

Originally, we were going to make it a family road trip but after my husband drove the U-Haul trailer home, he told me the thing rattled so much there was no way our 21-month old son was going to get ANY sleep.  The day before we were going to head out, we changed plans and I bought a plane ticket.  And here we are.  In Colorado.  Alot has happened in the last week, so let me share the highlights.

The Weather
Oh yes, let's start with the weather.  When we arrived on Sunday, it was 84 degrees, sunny & hot.  After pointing out to my husband that it has snowed every Tuesday in April in Colorado, it was his turn to tell me that the snowy days were behind us.  It was also in the 80s on Monday, and then we turned on the news that night.  Snow!  What?  I woke up this lovely Tuesday morning and sure enough, it was starting to snow.  It's been going for about 4-5 hours now and it's nice and thick and a lovely 33 degrees outside.

Having lived in California for most of my life, I get excited when it snows, because it usually happens on when I'm vacation: Lake Tahoe, Mammoth, Salt Lake City, Whistler, you get the picture.  So I was thrilled to see snow in May but I overheard a couple of people at the coffee shop this morning wondering aloud, when is the snow going to stop?  It's May!

The People
My husband has been bragging about how nice everyone is in Colorado.  Today I had my first friendly encounter.  I went grocery shopping this morning and on my way out of the store, a total stranger struck up a conversation.  That would never happen in California, and if it did, I would normally be on guard.  But for whatever reason, I wasn't the least bit suspicious (ok, maybe just a tiny bit).  I hope the trend continues...

Getting Settled
I am a work at home mom (WAHM).  My husband and I moved from Southern California to Northern California 2 years ago due to a job offer (his job, not mine).  I was 8 months pregnant, so I gave notice, we moved, I had my little boy, and when he was 9 months old, I decided to re-enter the workforce.  When I contacted my old workplace for references, they asked if I would like to resume work, in a slightly different role (no direct reports), and do it all remotely.  Of course I said yes!  That was over a year ago.  When I told my manager that we were relocating from California to Colorado, I asked if I could take my job with me.  Happily, the answer was yes.  

I'm taking this week off of work to get settled and there is ALOT to try and tackle.  There isn't much unpacking to do, but there is all the other "stuff": finding new doctors, a pediatrician, a dentist, a place to get my haircut, etc; figuring out where to do my groceries, the local library, places with kids activities, playgrounds; and -- this part I'm MOST excited about -- where to exercise!  There are so many places to go running, hiking, biking, and my fingers are crossed that I find places that are a little more accessible to where we live now.  Surprisingly, that was the hardest part about where we lived: it was really hilly (I'm talking San Francisco steep) and it was really hard to get motivated about getting out for a run or bike ride some days.

Now that the big production of getting our old house packed up and moving ourselves is over, I plan to post a little more frequently.  Stay tuned on how settlin' down in Colorado works out for us!

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