It’s Not All Mary Poppins

I wonder why not?

When I consider my profession, I tend to think of myself as simply… raising children. Of course, anyone who’s ever tried it knows that it’s not a simple thing. It’s demanding on so many levels: physical, psychological, emotional, intellectual, spiritual. But at the same time, I’m a woman raising children. Not all of them are my own. Some — most! — of them are other peoples’ children, children who I am co-raising alongside their loving parents. So, here I am, in my home, raising children.

Just like any other parent.

Except, not.

This afternoon I was feeling chilly, tired, a bit demoralized, generally weary. One of the things I enjoy when I’m feeling this way, something which warms and comforts me, is a nice soak in a pleasantly-scented tub. Relaxing, soothing, warming.

It was nap-time. Everyone was soundly asleep. The bathroom is on the same floor as the bedrooms. Were anyone to cry out, I’d be closer there than I am here, down in the livingroom. It would simply be a matter of throwing on my robe and checking it out. Were these my own children, I’d have had that bath.

But these are not my children, and so I didn’t.

I wonder why? Really? Parents take baths while their children sleep all the time. They even take showers, which, if you think about it, isolate you far more than a bath would. You can’t hear anything from outside the bathroom when you’re in a shower. I certainly took showers while my children slept. (Still do, but given that my ‘baby’ is 17, it’s not really an issue any more. 🙂 )

In fact, when I think about it, there are all sorts of things that parents do that I don’t. I avoid talking on the phone during when the kids are awake. I don’t drink (alcohol). I don’t invite a friend over for coffee mid-morning. (Though I certainly chat with other caregivers at the park — and don’t think there aren’t people out there who think I shouldn’t!)

Which brings us to the things I do do, that not everyone is convinced I should. I sit on the porch with a cup of tea and a book on a fine day while the children nap. Not everyone is comfortable with that. I let the older children mix with the younger children, just like in a real family!! (At least one couple out there thinks I shouldn’t be doing that.) I will leave husband or daughter in charge — again, during naptime — while I zip over to the corner store. Some poor caregivers are not even allowed to take their garbage to the curb during work hours!

I don’t know why I don’t feel comfortable taking a bath with the tots sleeping in their beds. As mother to my own children, I’d not have thought twice about it. As caregiver to someone else’s child, I don’t do it.

It’s sort of a weird job, that way.

February 23, 2011 - Posted by | daycare |


  1. I’ve noticed those limitations while I host another child here to play. I should feel ok just walking to the curb to get the mail, but instead I tell the kids where I’m going. I should feel ok having a glass of wine as I prep dinner, but if seems wrong. I act like I’m supposed to be right there keeping an eye on everything they do- but I neither want to nor need to anymore.

    Odd constraints, but I agree with you.

    Comment by My Kids Mom | February 23, 2011 | Reply

  2. Wow, read the post you linked to, unbelievable. Thought your response was brilliant.

    How can anyone expect one person to run a home daycare and keep the kids segregated? That’s asinine.

    I’m with you too that though I wouldn’t think twice about having a bath while my own kids were napping, I might hesitate on the idea if I were caring for someone else’s.

    Every job has its quirks. 😀

    Asinine, yes. Normally I like have daycare workers’ kids as clients, because their parents are so sensible and easy to work with. In this case, however, she obviously believed that because she worked in a centre, she was a real daycare worker and knew how real daycares should be run. In her eyes, I was a mere daycare wannabe, running a substandard shop. Silly woman. If that’s what you want, put your child in a daycare centre.

    Comment by Sheri | February 23, 2011 | Reply

  3. To me it’s just a question of things you do at work, vs. things you do at home. Nobody who works outside the home has the opportunity to take a bath during the day, and it’s the kind of thing that takes a long enough time to do that it shouldn’t be done on the clock. I can throw in a load of laundry in three minutes while the kids are happy and occupied, so I do. But even during naptime I’m still working and on call. I think if a parent were to show up early for pickup and I was in the bath, they’d be within their rights to be very annoyed.

    Comment by daycare girl | March 17, 2011 | Reply

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