Why Free Childcare Comes At The Wrong Time
I would like you to know that there has been many a day where I have sat and wished the time away until my son was three and we were able to take advantage of the free hours at pre-school. On those days when he just wouldn’t nap, when his teething pain had exhausted us all, when the house hadn’t been cleaned for weeks because there just wasn’t the time and the days when tantrum number six had happened by midday. Those were the days when I longed for a nap myself, when I was in desperate need for somebody to care for my son whilst I cleaned every inch of my home, when I just needed to sit down for a little while with a hot cup of tea and have my programmes on and NOT cartoons.
Don’t get me wrong, I do adore my child, all parents do the majority of the time, but there are just those tougher days which at times feel like an eternity. Tiredness takes over, irritability kicks in and the greasy hair look has well and truly had its day! At this younger age my son couldn’t tell what was wrong, I was constantly second-guessing my every move and I couldn’t explain to him that today Mummy just wasn’t feeling it. Do you know how tiring it is to always be wondering ‘am I getting it right?!’ He didn’t understand that the house needed to be cleaned, that the Sainsburys shop had to be done or that the garden had become so overgrown it had started to resemble a jungle.
It was so difficult to sing yet another nursery rhyme at a baby group when I’d heard ‘wind the bloody bobbin up’ 4 times that week. It was tough to smile and make conversation with other Mum’s when all I really wanted to do was to be in bed with the duvet over my head! And even though playing with my son could be fun, at times his attention span was so limited that we both became bored pretty quickly and had to move onto the next activity.
Then there was the teething, the nap drops, the weaning, the ditching of the dummy and those fantastic tantrums that seemed to increase between 18 months and 2 1/2 years. There were so many days when I cried for absolutely no reason and thought that any me time was gone forever.
He is now just turned three and do you know what? The tables have turned and he is amazing! You offer me free childcare now? You expect me to miss out on our fun games, our great little conversations and lose my little helper because NOW he can be looked after?!
No, no, no, you have this all wrong. He is finally a proper little person who can tell me what he wants for lunch, who can use a toilet all by himself, who can feed himself, who can sit and watch an entire film without getting bored (good ones too, plenty of Disney!) and who can make me laugh most of the day. Yes, ok there are still sleepless nights and there are some strops but it is nothing compared to what he was like at a year old. It is all so much easier and (please don’t judge me) so much more enjoyable. Yet now you give me 15 hours off for free?!
I think whoever came up with this idea has got it all backwards. Could you maybe look into this for me ready for when I have the next one?! Please provide free childcare at a time when a worn out, dishevelled Mum needs it- especially during the terrible two’s- and let us enjoy the more interesting phase with our mini sidekicks at home.
A Mum not quite ready for these free hours
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