Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Why Mother's Day Out Makes Me a Better Mom

Things have changed in our world today. We know longer live right down the road from family. Growing up, I was surrounded by family. I had family at every corner of the small Louisiana town we lived in. We actually lived farther away than most of the family and it took us a whole whopping 7 minutes at most to get to my grandparents house. But now, our closest family members on my side are 9 hours away and on the hubby's side, the closest is 10 hours.

I love living in Nashville and I have never looked at living away as an issue. But when we had our daughter, all of a sudden, I could see where family could come in handy, especially when you have a husband who travels for a living. There are days where I was struggling a lot that first year and could have used someone to just come and sit with Abbey Grace so maybe I could take a shower and wash my 5 day old dirty hair. Or maybe, go grocery shopping alone!

Last Spring, in the midst of running my business, the hubs being gone on the road for a tour, and having my toddling 1 year old, I reached a breaking point. I decided maybe I should look into this Mother's Day Out thing. Maybe it could be what I was needing.

I googled Mother's Day Out in Nashville and there were a gazillion! I found two close to me and inquired about price and days of the week. As soon as I hung up, I cried and cried. I am a stay at home mom. How could I not handle my daughter? This is what I have always wanted. Why do I feel like I need a break from her? What kind of mom am I? And now I am going to pay someone to watch her when that is my job? Also, I knew the comments I had made about my friend who took her kids to daycare on her day off so she could clean the house...Why would she not want to spend time with them? That was April 2012.

I decided not too because I should be able to do this. I should be able to take care of the house, work at the hospital a couple days a month, run my cloth diaper business, and run my CPR business, all why maintaining my sanity and being the best mom ever. Also, I hated to cost us more money. I was up for the challenge...

Then summer happened. Summer is one of the busiest times of year for my husbands work. Concerts are in full swing and there are some long weeks of traveling in there. I realized not only was I not super mom, I was struggling with the most basic things. I was so stressed with everything that I wasn't enjoying the things I should. I wasn't taking our girl to the park or the zoo. We weren't having playdates. Each day, I hated the mom I was. I needed a break. I needed something. I needed help.

So I called the Mother's Day Out programs again. I toured two of them and they were both awesome. Our girl loved both and wasn't shy and went right in and played with toys and even jumped in and played cars with one group in the gym. I got in the car and cried but knew we had to give it a shot. I chose the one that felt right for us and two weeks later she started "school."

What is Mother's Day Out (MDO)?
They are mostly run by churches (at least in our area). The children have free playtime, do crafts, outside play/gym play, learn letters, numbers, shapes, take naps, and eat with their friends. They are typically between 3-6 hours and some offer before and after care so you can extend the day. They are usually 2-5 days a week.

The program we chose is from 8:45-2:15. We also started with 2 days a week and now we are at 3. Let me tell you, these have become the most precious and sanity-saving 5 hours of my day. All of a sudden I had 10 hours a week without having to stop a toddler from climbing on something or putting something in her mouth. Someone commented to me, "well what do you get out of it, you can't work during that time..." (I'm a nurse in my other life and that requires 12 hour shifts usually.) Well, no, nice person trying to ruin my day, I can't work a normal shift at the hospital but I can clean my house (I know...I ate my words), go grocery shopping without a crying baby,  go to doctors appointments, teach a CPR class, get my hair cut, take a much needed nap, blog, and clean my house. Now I don't do that all in one day but I can spread it out.

As far as our little girl goes, she loves every second of it. I never knew how social she was because we aren't around other children except for the occasional birthday party. She loved her friends, getting to color, getting to run and play in the playhouse with her friends. I never realized how much children need social interaction with children their own age.

So when mommy picks her up from "school" as we call it, she is so happy to babble away at what she did that day or show me the craft she made. And now, I am not stressed about my huge to do list. I have knocked a few things off and can take time to have a tea party or hide under a fort or play baby dolls. I might have missed 15 hours with her but now, the time I have with her is better spent and I am better because I am less stressed.

So, if you are on the fence and feeling guilty about being a SAHM and needing help, don't. You will be a better mom for it. I am so thankful for the program she is in! Knowing my sweet girl is having a blast while I do the mundane (and sometimes fun) things that are required by adult life, I don't feel guilty for not paying attention to her.

I'm learning that mommy guilt is there for any decision you make. Do what is best for you and your family right now.

What is your favorite part of having alone time?

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