We have just barely survived our first full week back at work. What a week it has been! A sick toddler, bike calamities and sleepless nights have resulted in two very exhausted parents this weekend. But let me start from the beginning...
We have a somewhat complicated schedule this year. Andy is working full time, and I am working four days a week. However as my school operates on a ten day timetable, I don't have the same days off each week. One week I'm of on Tuesday, the next I'm off on Wednesday. This makes childcare a bit tricky, as daycares certainly do not operate on a ten day timetable. They do the normal five, as you'd expect. Added to that, we are still on waiting lists to get Ella into a local daycare, so we are still driving back to Abbotsford for that. This adds nearly an extra hour on to our daily commute, and to poor Ella's already long day in care.
To try and manage this situation and alleviate some of the commuting time, we decided to put Ella in daycare two days a week (Mondays and Thursdays), and have a Nanny the other two days. We already had a girl, we'll call her Nanny J, who has done some babysitting for us previously and was available to watch Ella on Fridays. Perfect. However, she has another job working in a café, so is unavailable for the Tuesday/Wednesday alternating days that we also need a Nanny for. Enter Nanny C, who is a nursing student, and has been super flexible with her time and agreed to watch Ella on the Tuesday/Wednesday. So, although not an ideal situation, it has worked out pretty well so far. Once the end of March hits, we have grandparents visiting for about three months, so we won't need to continue with the Nannies until July. By this time I'm hoping we will have got into a local daycare.
Anyway, in an effort to be organised on the Friday before school started, Andy and I sat down and looked at our week ahead. We worked out things like:
- Who would drive and who would cycle to work each day (we are a one car family, and with driving comes the long commute on daycare days. If I had a choice, I would always cycle!)
- When we each had meetings and would have to stay late at school
- A meal plan for the week
- When we could each fit in some time for exercise/yoga
I felt pretty happy over the weekend that we'd have a great start to the school year. I should have known better. Here's how it actually panned out...
Daycare day. Wendy driving, Andy cycling. 5:30am alarm. This is probably a bit earlier than needed, but we like to be out the door by 7am to avoid the heaviest traffic times. Ella seemed to get the memo that we had an early morning, and helpfully woke on her own at 6:20am (unusual, I normally have to wake her at this time). We are super prepared and out the door by 6:40am. I get to daycare when they open, at 7am on the dot. Ella is the first child there, which I feel a bit guilty about. Even more so when she curls into me and cries as I try to say good-bye. I try not to cry myself, as I hand her over to an educator and leave her there sobbing. Toddler separation anxiety sucks.
I have a super full on day of meetings and workshops that are not scheduled to end until 5pm. It's a "professional learning day", meaning no students are in. We would normally get a bit of individual planning time during these days before the students arrive so you could sit with your teams and prepare some lessons. However, we had some "disappointing" Year 12 results last year, resulting in lots of extra meetings and thinking about what went wrong, so that it doesn't happen again next year. It's a tough start to the year! At 4:10, I get a phone call from the daycare. Ella has a fever. I need to go and pick her up. I'm not going to lie, I was a bit relieved to leaving the very full on workshop I was in - I'm pretty exhausted by this point. I pick up Ella and get home around 5:30pm. Andy arrives soon after, and we work together to get dinner ready and then do the bath/book/bed routine with Ella. We have a rough night with Ella, she wakes every few hours and is still feverish. We give lots of Panadol and ibuprofen (well, the recommended doses) and this helps her calm down and sleep.
My day off. Andy cycles to work so that I can use the car to run some errands that day. My original plan to wake up early with Andy so that I can get myself ready before Ella wakes up goes out the window due to lack of sleep the night before. I stay in bed until Ella wakes up. She seems better. We have a lovely lazy morning together, eating breakfast and getting ready, and then I take her grocery shopping with me. She is the perfect child. We get home, have a bit of play time, and then she goes down for her nap. I spend some time writing my last blog post, and then start some food prep for the week. I feel super productive and start to rethink this whole "working mom" thing. I totally rule at stay-at-home-mom life. I hear Ella wake from her nap and think, no problem, I'll just give her some lunch while I finish up the rest of the food prep I intended on doing. Easy. HAHAHA. This is when it all goes pear-shaped. Ella literally screams for an hour while I try everything I know to distract her. She doesn't want to play with my iPhone, watch The Wiggles, or eat any of her favourite foods (not even raisins), so I know something must be wrong. I'm beside myself. I finally give her a dose of baby painkiller and she calms down when it kicks in. Whew. Thank goodness. In the meantime, Andy lets me know that on his way to work, part of his bike tire blew up. He's getting public transport home which takes ages from his school, and this starts to mess up some of our plans for the week. Most importantly, I don't get to go to my scheduled in yoga class that evening. When Andy finally gets home, he and Ella cuddle up on the couch while I make dinner, which is cute, but unlike her. She has another feverish night, but it's being managed by the Panadol and she is still eating and drinking so I'm not super worried that anything is wrong yet.
Nanny C day. The original plan was I would drive, however with Andy's busted bike tire we have to swap. Nanny C is due to arrive at 8am, which means it is cutting it close for me to get to work on time on my bike, but luckily I don't teach first period so I have a bit of wiggle room. Before Nanny C arrives I make sure we don't have anything embarrassing lying around the house, and try to tidy so that we don't look like slobs. Andy is complaining about how complicated our routine is. I snap that it's not that hard, we are just tired. Sleepless nights are not great on a marriage. Luckily we are both able to mostly ignore each other's behaviour when we know keep down it's due to tiredness. I am somewhat nervous about leaving a sick Ella with Nanny C on her first day. (She has babysat Ella previously for a few hours, but this is her first whole day). But she is in her last year of nursing so is probably much more knowledgable illness than me. Plus, Ella is her usual self once the Panadol kicks in, so I'm not sure she is even that sick. I explain the situation to Nanny C when she arrives, telling her to call me if Ella gets worse and I will come home. Nanny C seems much less anxious about the whole thing than I am. My work day goes well - it's my first day of teaching since I went on maternity leave in June 2015, and it is great to be back in the classroom. Throughout the day Nanny C sends me text message to assure me that Ella is fine, although her fever returns after her nap. I start to wonder how long we should let a fever go on before going to the doctor. Andy googles this - the answer is 48 hours. He promptly makes a doctor's appointment for 4:30pm, almost exactly 48 hours after we got a call from daycare regarding the fever on Monday. Andy leaves work early to take Ella to the doctor. Surprise, surprise, it's a virus. We are to continue treating with Panadol unless she gets worse. It is nearly always useless taking a sick child to the doctor's. However you don't want to risk not going, just in case it is the one time that something is actually wrong. We have a slightly better night's sleep, and Ella wakes without a fever, yay!
Daycare day. Wendy cycles, Andy drives. Andy drops Ella off without any tears for the first time since we returned from our Christmas holidays. Another yay! Daycare lets us know Ella has a good morning. But then, around 3pm... the dreaded daycare pick up call. She's got a rash. Rashes and daycare DO NOT go together. Andy picks her up. I have a meeting after school which seems to go on forever. I'm pretty tired by the time I leave, but make myself go to yoga, as planned. As always, I feel much better after my class. By the time I get home Ella has just gone to sleep, which makes me a bit sad. But Andy says she seems ok, despite the rash. She has been like this before, we think it is roseola infantum. Basically, the rash is harmless and signals the end of the virus, but we won't be able to go back to daycare until it has disappeared.
Nanny J day. Wendy cycles, Andy drives. Before Nanny J arrives I'm in a good mood. On Nanny days I don't leave for work until 7:45ish, and the morning feels endless. Why have I wasted so much of my life going to work so early? Having a leisurely morning is divine. I even have two coffees! Nanny J arrives just as Ella is waking. Her rash doesn't look too bad, and Nanny J is not concerned at all that she has been unwell. Ella doesn't seem to mind me leaving her with Nanny J, and I leave happily on my bike. It's a glorious morning and I'm feeling great... until I hear something hit the wheel of my tire. There is a clanging noise, as if something is stuck in the spokes of the tires. I pull over and check out my bike. My heart starts to sink as I hear the hissing sound of air escaping from the tire. It sinks even further as I spot the huge nail sticking out of it. The clanging sound was the nail hitting my mudguards as it went round and round. The faint silver lining of all this is that I am not actually that far from home. I walk back and take out my phone to call Nanny J to let me in the garage (she has my set of keys). As I look at my phone I notice a text message from a colleague/friend. She's asking if I can cover a class period 1. Noooo! There is no way I will make it to school on time to cover that class. I hate letting people down. I frantically try and contact someone at school to make sure they know I won't be there, while also googling the quickest route via public transport. In the end I'm only 15 minutes late for school, which isn't bad, all things considered. I just can't believe that both Andy and I have ruined our bike tires in the same week! I get to school and it is mostly fine. But at lunch I find out that I'm expected to go on Year 7 camp, which is three weeks from now! And for a whole week. I'm a bit annoyed that I haven't been told sooner, and stressed at what Andy's reaction will be. After a bit of back and forth, it looks like I will be able to switch to Year 8 camp instead, which is in Term 2 and when my mom will be here, so at least Andy will have her around to help out with Ella. But the whole thing makes me feel anxious... I hate feeling like I'm not able to totally commit to things at work. I don't want to be seen as a slacker, or get any special treatment. It's not like I'm the only person with a young child on staff! But it just feels that much harder as we don't have any family to depend on here. It makes me want to go back to Canada sooner rather than later. But perhaps I should leave the major life decisions to a week where I've had a bit more sleep. Anyway, I leave work as soon as I can. A lovely colleague gives me a lift and stays for a glass of wine, which is a nice end to a long week. Ella seems ok when I get home and Nanny J says she's been eating and drinking well all day. But her rash has gotten worse. Ella is pretty hard work that evening, crying at every little thing, and Andy is coaching soccer so I'm on my own. When I finally get her to bed I collapse on the sofa with a glass of wine and watch The Crown. We order pizza when Andy gets home and go to bed soon after. We are woken at midnight to the sound of Ella vomiting in bed. It's scary as it sounds like she is choking. We cuddle her and calm her down while changing the sheets in her cot and cleaning it all up. We all finally get back into bed but now every time she coughs I jump out of bed to make sure she is ok. She vomits a second time at 3am, and we change her sheets again. Andy makes another doctor's appointment for the morning. This time I take her in to sleep with me and Andy goes to sleep on the couch. Thankfully, we all sleep pretty soundly after that.
Today. Everyone is tired. We wake up later than usual and rush out the door to the doctor. Again, we are told it's a virus, but the vomiting was probably due to a different one than the fever/rash. We just need to watch her to see if she gets worse. On the way home we get two new tires for our bikes. Ella is pretty tired all day, but starts to perk up around 6pm and has a healthy dinner. We have a fun playtime after that and she goes down to bed easily. I pour myself a wine and settle on to the balcony to write this post. I can hear a large group of people singing along to a DJ, there is some sort of music festival going on at Ceres today. It reminds me of another lifetime. It sounds like fun.