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Finding the childcare balance

Where are your kids when you work?

Q: When you are working, where are your kids? Aren’t you scared that they miss you? 

Well, I’m not going to give you a street address, if that’s what you’re asking.

I do work for a living, as do most of the parents reading right now I suspect. As does my wife, Annette (she’s sweet), so daycare has been a necessity for us during most of the last eight years of our lives together.

For those of you who aren’t parents, here’s a Pro Tip: Daycare is expensive. Super expensive. So we’ve had to explore a few different arrangements for our kids over the years.

When our daughter, Gotglasses Seesgood (not her real name) was born, my wife’s workplace offered free daycare onsite for the first six months. That was pretty great, if you can find it. And you can’t, probably.

I did some math right around the time the six months ended (which is always a dangerous thing for me to do) and figured out that I was, at that time, earning about the same in wages as the cost of having a daycare watch my child during the day so I could go outside the house and work for just enough wages to pay the cost of daycare. Vicious circle, but since we were essentially netting nothing from me working, I made the choice to be a stay-at-home dad.

That didn’t last long, because…reasons. But those were the most rewarding few months of my life. Sometimes I’ll see Memories posts on my Facebook from the period, with my observations on my favorite Lifetime movies that were on TV while I fought to feed and nap a stubborn toddler, or my wife asking me concerned questions about all the Lifetime movies I was watching. But it was a period of time spent entirely with a person who means more to me than just about anyone else in this world.

When our daughter turned one, I got a job or three, and we had to look for daycare again. Fortunately for us, our friend decided to open a home daycare in her…well, home. That’s where home daycares are usually housed. So our daughter was watched each day by a person whom we trusted with our whole hearts, and that’s a good feeling to have. However, she also took her first steps and hit several milestones in someone else’s house, while we were at work. Not so great.

When our daughter was three years old, we became aware that there was another addition coming to our house and needed to find new daycare arrangements because our friend didn’t have an opening for a newborn. So, both the kids went to a daycare center after that, except for a brief period in which I took our son to work with me (another great workplace benefit, if you can find it) and when our daughter started going to school.

So that’s where we’re at now: son goes to daycare, daughter goes to school. Am I scared they miss me? Sure. It’s a constant bummer to be away from them, but until the robots rise up and take all of the human jobs away from us, that’s the arrangement. So, just take advantage of the time you do have with your kids, on the weekends, holidays, evenings and in summer, and make sure to eat healthy foods.

We’ll all need to be in the best shape possible to fight off the robots, I reckon.

Written by Kelly Hagen

Kelly Hagen

Kelly is the Director of Communications at North Dakota United. He has been with NDU since merger in 2013, and worked previously with the North Dakota Public Employees Association since 2011. Kelly is in charge of coordinating and distributing print and electronic communications between members and with the public, is the editor for United Voices magazine, administrates the website and social media properties, and works directly with local leaders to build their own communications infrastructure. Kelly is originally from Wilton, ND. He received an Associate of Arts degree in journalism from Bismarck State College and a Bachelor of Science degree in mass communication from Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Prior to his employment with NDU, he worked for the N.D. Department of Health, the Fargo Forum and the Bismarck Tribune. He lives in Bismarck with his wife, Annette, and their two children.

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