How do you feel about childcare at a gym? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 50 Old 01-13-2009, 11:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I x-posted this to The Childhood Years, but I would really like some homeschoolers' opinions on this situation:

My 3.5-year old son has never been left with anyone other than DH or me except for a few times with a mother's helper and with my sister & mother who he sees every week (and even then he wasn't crazy about my leaving).

So I've been thinking about joining a gym. A good friend goes there every weekday and leaves her daughter (who is the same age as my son) in the childcare room. Her daughter LOVES it now, but had a tough time adjusting.

I like the childcare room and the teachers -- they seem very caring. So I've been a few times, staying with my son so he could get used to the place, and then leaving for ten minutes and coming right back a few times. Each time I came back he was hiding in a tiny little hiding spot and was a little weepy. Yesterday I tried leaving for half an hour, even though he was crying and asking me not to leave, and when I came back he was standing still in the middle of the room, sniffling.

My friend (who is mostly very AP but does a few things differently than we do) is sympathetic but thinks my son will get past this, and that we just need to plow through it. And this may be so. (And I REALLY would like to have an hour a few times a week to exercise during the day.)

But it feels wrong. DH likened it to CIO. I see what he's saying, but OTOH our son is 3.5. He can understand that I'm leaving to exercise and coming back soon.

It's just so hard to know if I'm doing the right thing or not. Should I wait until DS is ready? Or is it my job to push him a little in a controlled setting?

I would really appreciate any opinions or advice. TIA.

Formerly New Mama to Henry, born August 2005 and Silas, born November 2010.
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#2 of 50 Old 01-13-2009, 12:14 PM
 
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*I* wouldn't leave him. He's clearly not happy about the separation, and it's causing him stress and discomfort.

I'm not sure what your friend means by "he'll get past it." Does she mean he'll mature and be able to leave you or just that he'll stop crying? The maturity will come, in time, (and in hindsight, this will seem like SUCH a short period of time!) but I don't believe it's facilitated by pushing it before they're ready.

Could you get a mother's helper to come to your home so you could exercise with him nearby? Could you exercise while your dh has the baby? Would your mother or sister watch him? Could you put him in a sling or stroller and walk/run? If he still naps, could you exercise then?

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He can understand that I'm leaving to exercise and coming back soon.
Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, it's upsetting to him. If you've fostered attachment this far, it's probably quite shocking to him that you're leaving against his wishes for any length of time, yk?

But it's also not "just" that you're leaving. He's in a new place, with caretakers who are strangers to him. New toys, new rules, different kids--that's a lot to navigate all by himself. And he probably doesn't have a sense of how long 1 hour is, nor can he assess, during that hour, how much longer it'll be until mommy comes back.

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Should I wait until DS is ready?
I would. But then, I advocate that for every area--separation, weaning, potty use, reading, ect.

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#3 of 50 Old 01-13-2009, 12:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not sure what your friend means by "he'll get past it." Does she mean he'll mature and be able to leave you or just that he'll stop crying?
I think my friend means that he'll get used to the place and will start to understand that I'm coming back soon and that he's okay.

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Could you get a mother's helper to come to your home so you could exercise with him nearby? Could you exercise while your dh has the baby? Would your mother or sister watch him? Could you put him in a sling or stroller and walk/run? If he still naps, could you exercise then?
Just so you're clear -- he's 3.5, not a baby. He's 40 pounds so I have a tough time even pushing him in a stroller, much less putting him in a sling.

I'm not arguing with you, but I'm wondering if you think there's a difference between a baby and a 3.5-year old in this situation.

Formerly New Mama to Henry, born August 2005 and Silas, born November 2010.
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#4 of 50 Old 01-13-2009, 12:43 PM
 
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I think my friend means that he'll get used to the place and will start to understand that I'm coming back soon and that he's okay.
I think he'll learn that you're coming back and that he's okay eventually, whether you push the separation or wait for him to be ready.

Plenty of kids are left before they're ready--I think parents need to weigh their individual situation and decide if it's worth it. The "he'll get past it" comment sounded dismissive to me though, which is why I asked.

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I'm not arguing with you, but I'm wondering if you think there's a difference between a baby and a 3.5-year old in this situation.
3 is still a baby, to me. Certainly not the same as an infant, but he's still so LITTLE.

Regardless of what you want to call him--(toddler? preschooler?) the behavior you describe would say to me that he still needs you to be there.

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#5 of 50 Old 01-13-2009, 12:45 PM
 
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We went through something similar with Sunday school. Like yours, my ds had never been in anyone's care except me, dh and very rarely his grandma.

He gradually warmed up, and I never had to leave him upset.

Here are some points I discussed with him:
-He knows where I am, and that I will not be having any fun without him.
-He always has the option to go with me to church, but in that case he has to follow the rules of the big church, and wouldn't he rather stay here and play?
-Going home is not an option.
-If he needs me, he can ask the teacher to come get me, and she will. (She will actually buzz my cell phone and I will come get him.)
-If he stays in class the whole time, there's a snack at the end.

In the early weeks, it was touch and go. I got called back a couple of times. A few times I stood outside the door for a long while. Once I heard crying during the service, and snuck out to find it was somebody else. Since September, he's been enjoying it. It could just be a matter of simple maturity.

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#6 of 50 Old 01-13-2009, 01:03 PM
 
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I'd wait until he's ready.

Why not focus more on leaving him with your family members who he already knows and loves? Once he's comfortable being apart from you with them, you can try again with the gym.

My DD is 3 1/2 as well. She stays away from me fine with DH, with my mom, sister, and a child care provider at church.

But she will not stay alone in sunday school even though we've been going since sept. I have been sitting in preschool sunday school with her since sept!

I could leave her and force her to deal with it, but I'm choosing to let her decide when she's ready. Rather than upsetting her and letting her cry or be scared or anxious, I'm choosing to wait another month, or two or how even long it's going to take.

They change so fast at this age, I wouldn't worry that he'll never be independent. He will be, in his time.
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#7 of 50 Old 01-13-2009, 02:11 PM
 
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I started a long reply then realized that it's hard to say what I want to say....Here's the short version. I wouldn't do it. The difference between 3.5 and 4.5 and is huge. Between 3.5 and 5.5 beyond imagination.

My first 3.5 year old was over 45 pounds. I carried her in my oversized ring sling and bought a jogging stroller. For the price of a gym membership, you and your kid can run to the park, laugh and play there and run home.

Invite your friend along.

It doesn't last forever. It doesn't even last very long.

It's not worth the pain to the both of you.
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#8 of 50 Old 01-13-2009, 03:52 PM
 
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This is just my take on it. My oldest (now 13) never went to a daycare but did attend a preschool for two years, and he had some separation anxiety in the "beginning" but after going for a week or two each year he was okay and looked forward to going after he got used to the 3x a week routine for 3 hours each time and being with the same kids.

If your son is only spending one or two times a week in this childcare and is there for a short amount of time with different kids or different caregivers each time then he may have a harder time getting used to it. My kids liked familiarity, the same kids, same teacher and had to stay for at least a couple of hours and go several times a week to get used to something.

My kids have always thrived on routine but just taking them someplace for 30 minutes here or an hour there and only doing it once or twice a week and being around different kids every time when they were little, nope, that was much harder on them. I took my oldest child to the YMCA a couple of times back when he was 3 years old and couldn't stand leaving him because it saddened him. He just didn't go often enough. That was around the same time I put him in to a preschool.

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#9 of 50 Old 01-13-2009, 03:59 PM
 
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I would not leave him before he is ready either. IME...there is a world of difference between 3.5 and 4.5 in terms of being able to be left in a "class" or strange situation like that. My girls would have hated it and cried at 3.5. yet by the time there were a few months past their 4th birthday, they were both fine with it.

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#10 of 50 Old 01-13-2009, 04:04 PM
 
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I tried, my kids hated it, so I didn't do it again. I thought about trying again now that they are older, but I like to work out for about an hour and a half, at least, and I feel bad leaving them there for that long. Not to mention that it gets expensive!

I go in the evenings after dh gets home, which is not ideal. Ideal would be if I got up at 6am to go to the gym, and was home by 8am when dh leaves for work. But all my adult life I've been trying to get up early to work out and it just doesn't happen. So evenings it is.
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#11 of 50 Old 01-13-2009, 04:08 PM
 
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Is he crying b/c he is scared, sad, wanting you? Or b/c he wants to do whatever you are doing?

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#12 of 50 Old 01-13-2009, 04:33 PM
 
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In the meanwhile, I wouldn't stop visiting the gym playroom with him. Go at the same time each time, so it's the same babysitter. Play with him in the room, chat it up a little with the babysitters (while letting them do their jobs, of course) and let him have some fun there. It might be he'd like it if he knew the folks and the kids.

Maybe go with your friend, so her child is there, and then he will know one other child. Usually it will be the same kids for certain classes. As he becomes familiar with the routine, the kids and and the babysitters, he might start to look forward to it and you could workout.

Humans like what is familiar and are fearful of things that are unfamiliar. Most kids need to see a new food many time before they feel comfy enough with it to taste it, and that also holds true for new experiences. I'd also show him around the club, where you are wanting to workout etc. Make it all familiar.
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#13 of 50 Old 01-13-2009, 06:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Is he crying b/c he is scared, sad, wanting you? Or b/c he wants to do whatever you are doing?
Because he's sad and wants me.

The teachers are the same every time, and so are a lot of the kids. My hope is to go three times a week for an hour, which to me seems fairly consistent and often enough to know the routine. I went today and stayed with him and he LOVED it. He didn't want to leave. I'm going to keep trying because he really does enjoy it there.

Formerly New Mama to Henry, born August 2005 and Silas, born November 2010.
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#14 of 50 Old 01-13-2009, 08:00 PM
 
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I went today and stayed with him and he LOVED it. He didn't want to leave. I'm going to keep trying because he really does enjoy it there.
I'd keep on doing that. Try bringing a book with you so he can get used to not having your full attention while he's there. Once he's comfortable with you not paying attention to him, you might be able to duck out for a few minutes. Tell him you're going to the bathroom. Later he might be comfortable with you saying you're going to go work out for 15 minutes, and so on.

My gym kid care experience was that when I started going to the gym twice a week, DD suddenly started getting more viruses. So I'd stop going to the gym until she got better. Then as soon as we went back, she'd immediately pick up another virus. When I stopped using the gym kid care, but continued the rest of our (quite active) social life, she stopped getting sick. Coincidence? I doubt it. I hate to think badly of other parents, but I suspect at least some of them deliberately brought sick kids to the gym because they didn't want to skip their workouts.
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#15 of 50 Old 01-13-2009, 08:44 PM
 
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I had the same experience as jplain. We used to get sick all the time at our gym in San Antonio. My husband finally said enough was enough and they let us out of our contract. I did however have an awesome experience at a Wellness Center in Mississippi. Everything was clean, they wouldn't allow sick children in the daycare, and the staff was awesome too.


I would definately keep going with him since he's having fun while you're with him. I would think that slowly he'd get more comfortable with you being gone for longer periods of time. My first two never showed any anxiety about being in the gym daycare but my youngest did even with her big brother and sister there to comfort her. So I stayed with her until she started to get comfortable. A little frustrating to get everyone all ready and get there and not actually work out but after a few times she was ready and actually enjoyed it. Except for the getting sick part:
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#16 of 50 Old 01-13-2009, 08:53 PM
 
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I'm curious why you posted this on a homeschool board.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#17 of 50 Old 01-13-2009, 09:06 PM
 
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I used to work in a gym daycare It was a good job because I could take my son but I wouldn't have left him. Maybe it was the people I worked with and also the place wasn't so clean when I wasn't working.
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#18 of 50 Old 01-13-2009, 09:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm curious why you posted this on a homeschool board.
Because one of the reasons I want to homeschool is that I want to be there when my son is dealing with conflict or learning new things. And to a degree I feel like putting him in daycare is too much like a school situation. I was hoping to get input from other homeschoolers to see if they felt that way, too.

Formerly New Mama to Henry, born August 2005 and Silas, born November 2010.
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#19 of 50 Old 01-13-2009, 10:10 PM
 
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If you need a break (and I think it is very reasonable that you would) I'd consider preschool instead of gym child care. Gym child care at a lot of places is pretty bad for helping a kid make it through a transition because the routine isn't that predictable and the staff is always changing. My thought would be maybe put it off until the fall and look for a minimal developmentally appropriate preschool - co-ops are great if there is one in your area.
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#20 of 50 Old 01-13-2009, 11:34 PM
 
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I'm going to be the voice of dissent here I guess. I put my son in the gym daycare almost 4 -5 times a week for an hour or slightly longer. He was upset a few times in the beginning and they would always call me. I would go in with him and find something to occupy him and then I would leave. I also was very friendly with childcare provider...I would be very chatty,etc. He did cry a couple of times but he got over it right away. He now really enjoys going to the gym daycare and I recently moved and brought him to a new one and he didnt even care.

Kids gets cold all the times, especially toddlers. No biggie. Kids cry sometimes when they have to go through an adjustment....I personally dont think it's going to cause long damage or anything. Happy mamas make for happy families...

Oh, I'm not a homeschooler though...not yet at least!

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#21 of 50 Old 01-14-2009, 12:21 AM
 
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I'll just give my experience with the gym nursery and hope it helps a bit :-)

When my girls were about 3 yo and < 1 yo I started taking them to the gym nursery together. It has mostly worked out well for us. We would go pretty regulary (3ish times a week for < 2hrs each).

They are now 5yo and 2.5 yo. At this point I generally prefer that they are with dh or a sitter while I go to the gym but in the beginning the nursery was the best option for us. It is usually easier to use the gym nursery than our sitter or dh because it allows us to be totally flexible. If we are having a bad day then we skip it.

There was a period of transition where they adjusted to the new surroundings - noises, toys, kids, caregivers. Some days are better than others. Many days they ask to go. They have even made friends there and so have I. I know some people here think it's awful etc. and I have those moments when it doesn't feel right. But I try to keep it all in perspective.

I am APish in some ways and not in others...on this parenting journey I have only learned to do what works best for my own family.

Deep down you'll know what's right for you in the end.

Someone suggested preschool and that is a really good idea as an alternative if something like that could work out for you. My almost 5yo started at 3.5yo and after a pretty smooth transition she absolutely loves it. When she would have a difficult time saying good bye I really trusted the teachers...whereas at the gym they are busy juggling a much more scattered group. And I trusted that the preschool teachers would engage her and were equipped to handle a 3.5 yo wheras at the gym nursery they don't necessarily have the resources. They're pretty much just there to keep everyone alive for a couple of hours!

My physical and mental health is important to me...as a mother, as a woman etc. I feel like I can be a better mom if I am healthy and strong and get a little time to myself. This has been the best way for us to accomplish that. It's the way I want to do it.

Good luck, mama.
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#22 of 50 Old 01-14-2009, 03:39 AM
 
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I work with 3.5 year old and to me they are still babies. Needy that is. I wouldn't do it.
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#23 of 50 Old 01-14-2009, 11:33 AM
 
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Kids gets cold all the times, especially toddlers. No biggie.
Hmmm...that was a rather dismissive comment. Well, for us it wasn't "no biggie." I expect a few colds and maybe one stomach bug a year, not one after another after another.

And as for happy mamas make happy families, well sure! But having to miss my workouts because I needed to keep my sick kiddos at home wasn't making me happy. Our solution has been for me to go very early in the morning, or right after dinner, or right after we get the kids down at night.

For many families, avoiding frequent colds and other viruses is one of the fringe benefits of hs'ing. And I don't mean we're locked up at home all winter...far from it. But we've been lucky enough to avoid being around kids who are contagious. :
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#24 of 50 Old 01-14-2009, 12:40 PM
 
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getting sick can definitely be part of the gym nursery...but I do agree that kids can get colds from anywhere and some seem to catch everything while others don't. we just got our last batch of colds over the christmas holidays while visiting family and not from the gym. If my kids kept getting sick over and over from the nursery I probably would have pulled out too. But we didn't really experience that.
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#25 of 50 Old 01-14-2009, 01:03 PM
 
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I'm going to be the voice of dissent here I guess. ... Kids cry sometimes when they have to go through an adjustment....I personally dont think it's going to cause long damage or anything. Happy mamas make for happy families...
I agree with you.

When my kids were 3 I wouldn't have left them. They are 10 and 12 now, and I would do a lot of things differently if I could. If I could do it all over again, I would have made myself more of a priority because for me, the long term consequences of always putting myself last and doing my best to make everything perfect for my kids was exhaustion, which lead to depression, which lead to weight gain.

It's not a simple as "If I don't go to the gym today I'll get depressed." It's that year after year after year of putting myself last eventually got to me.

Different things work for different families and if you don't want time for yourself, you don't want to exercise, or your child is constantly sick, then don't leave them in the gym nursery. But at this stage of my life I feel that a 3 year old should learn to adjust to mommy getting a little time for herself. Once a child is old enough to understand that mommy will come back (which a baby cannot understand but a 3 year can) the fact that it makes them unhappy that mommy isn't with them 24 hours a day isn't enough, IMO, for mommy to not do things she wants to do.

The way that I think this relates to homeschooling is that if you are serious about your child being with you for the next decade, then it might be a good time to start to figure out a balance. And not doing things that you want to do because it makes your child unhappy isn't balance.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#26 of 50 Old 01-14-2009, 01:54 PM
 
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We've used two gym nurseries. In one, the nursery staff made extra money babysitting for regular customers (ie the people who were most determined to exercise regularly), and so when a regular came in with an obviously sick child, they tended to look the other way. There also seemed to be a feeling among the people who worked out there that it was ok to bring sick kids to childcare because they "needed" to workout. I once watched a woman carry her lethargic 4 year old into the baby room, and try to convince the childcare worker that her obviously sick kid should be allowed to stay in there and sleep. Perhaps only because I was there, staring at her in horror, the childcare worker told the mother that she couldn't do that "anymore". The 2 months we belonged to that gym were the sickest our family has ever seen. As I write this, I wonder if the giant indoor play structure didn't contribute to the illness problem-- I wouldn't want to have to climb that thing and wipe it all down.

Now we belong to our local Y, and we haven't had any trouble. The culture is totally different, and I think the people who work out there would be embarrassed to bring a really sick kid in. In addition, the room is simple, and much easier to clean.

For the OP, I'm not sure what I'd do. I think it would depend on why I thought my 3 year old was upset. FWIW, my 2 year old had a terrible time in the gym childcare when he had just turned 2-- I gave up on it for a few months, and now he goes happily and has a good time while he's there. I don't think it was about familiarity with the place, he just wasn't ready to be away from family yet. Once he was ready, there was no gradual adjustment, he went from always being near tears to being absolutely fine, and walking right over to some toys. Another change that happened about the same time was that he started getting more interested in toys, especially the classic "boy toys" that the childcare room has so many of. He also likes talking to random strangers more now-- they don't understand him, but he still likes to talk!

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#27 of 50 Old 01-14-2009, 03:28 PM
 
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Hmmm...that was a rather dismissive comment. Well, for us it wasn't "no biggie." I expect a few colds and maybe one stomach bug a year, not one after another after another.

And as for happy mamas make happy families, well sure! But having to miss my workouts because I needed to keep my sick kiddos at home wasn't making me happy. Our solution has been for me to go very early in the morning, or right after dinner, or right after we get the kids down at night.

For many families, avoiding frequent colds and other viruses is one of the fringe benefits of hs'ing. And I don't mean we're locked up at home all winter...far from it. But we've been lucky enough to avoid being around kids who are contagious. :
If I offended anyone, that wasnt what I intended. I wasn't singling out anyone either. But again, toddlers constantly have runny noses...its a part of growing up. I still think it is important for mamas to take time for themselves. I totally agree with Linda on the move. My aunt had three kids and she always tells me that if she could do it again, she would have taken more time for herself and her marriage. I know that it is important for me to go to the gym and take a yoga class or other exercise.

I also don't think a 3 year old is a baby. An infant is a baby. My child is 2 and has been fine in the gym daycare. He actually enjoys it. Today, we went to look at some preschools (thats why I'm in homeschool forum) and he was very attracted to the kids and activities and I think its mainly because he was already exposed to something similar.

"Breastfeeding is a robust, biologically stable activity so central to our evolutionary identity that it names the class of animals to which we belong" (Breastfeeding Atlas, Third Edition)
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#28 of 50 Old 01-14-2009, 03:47 PM
 
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But again, toddlers constantly have runny noses...its a part of growing up.
Not to be smug about it, but mine didn't and don't. Runny noses are rare around here.

Perhaps this belief is one of the reasons my daughter picked up so many colds at the daycare gym. :
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#29 of 50 Old 01-14-2009, 03:54 PM
 
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My 3.5 yo is doing fine without me in church daycare. I am sure your DS will be just fine with the situation.

Liv, SAHM of 3 kiddos 

 

 

 

 

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#30 of 50 Old 01-14-2009, 04:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I tried again today, for twenty or so minutes. He cried when I left and was teary when I returned. However, this time he was talking to the head teacher and they were coming to see me -- and he willingly got his boots and put them on for her. But now he says he does not want to go back.

I just feel like I need to either decide I'm doing it and not have doubts or not do it at all. I agree that I really need this time for me. I'm with him almost every minute of the day (including nights, when we co-sleep, and he wakes up many times). But I wonder if it's my job to give him a gentle push in a safe environment or if I'm traumatizing him.

Man, this parenting thing is hard. Why can't I be like my mom and say something like, "Knock it off! You're fine!"

Oh, wait. Because I had a miserable childhood and am still dealing with issues...

Formerly New Mama to Henry, born August 2005 and Silas, born November 2010.
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