The Case for Outsourcing Child Care

Today’s mommas always preach the value of a tribe – having friends, family, colleagues and neighbors who support and understand the struggle of motherhood and raising kids.

We have play dates with our tribe, wine nights with our tribe and inside jokes and memes with tribe members.

But for all the glory we heap upon our tribe, we always seem to stop short in allowing these great ladies (I’m making a generalized assumption here) to actually help in the care of our kids.

Mothers always have been and always will be the primary caretaker for most families. That looks different for each families but moms are often the ones running the show. However, as motherhood becomes more scientific, more specialized, more publicized, mothers have taken on an assumption that they are the only ones qualified to take care of their unique and special little munchkins.

More and more I see mothers debating the need to home school children to ensure they aren’t influenced by negative forces or questioning whether they should work or go so far as to leave the house for the weekend to enjoy some adult time. Mothers seem to be more and more concerned with outsourcing the duty of raising their children for fear that care by anyone but themselves will destroy their children and leave a lasting negative impression on their lives.

I believe this trend comes at a severe cost to our children. The more our kiddos are exposed to new people, places, rules and environments, the more they become adaptable, empathetic and understanding children who see past their own household and realize the diversity of our society and growing world.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in favor or allowing just anyone to raise our children or leaving kids in dangerous situations with unqualified supervisors. And the possibility of bad actors and unforeseen situations is always there – always has been and always will be. But by and large, our tribes, our teachers, our friends and our families are good people with big hearts that want to see our children grow and succeed.

My husband and I both work full-time outside the home. Our two boys have been attending an in-home daycare since each was about 2 months old. My oldest now attends full-day kindergarten and the youngest will start 3-year-old pre-school next fall. Our schedules are wacky, ridiculous and different nearly every day. My boys have both known no different. They have been raised to go with the flow, adjust and make do. And the number of people I have involved in their daily care has grown. Grandparents, daycare owner, teenage babysitters, aunts, uncles and teachers have all had a hand in keeping them happy, healthy and safe.

When people ask about how my husband and I manage all of this I joke and tell them we are raising adaptable, well-rounded little boys. And that’s the truth. I want them to see that a mom an work and raise kids and mothers are not the only ones willing and able to care for them. It worries me when mothers want to be everything for their kids and deprive them of the opportunity to learn how to adapt to new people and new situations. We cannot and should not bubble wrap our children and shield them from society. Kids will do better when they know how to adjust to new people and new places and understand that this world is full of wonderful people that are ready and willing to help make their lives better.

Public schools is good, daycare is life changing and teenage babysitters may not always do the dishes and get the kids to bed on time but they all grow our children’s worlds and tribes and allow us mothers and opportunity to enjoy our tribes and our calling.

 

It’s Been A While . . . We’re Still Here

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It’s been an embarrassing long time since I’ve updated my blog. It’s not that we haven’t been farming or working or living our best (and most hectic) farm life, it’s just that whenever I sit down to write an update or talk about an issue something comes up and I close the computer promising to get back to it soon (I’m sure every mother out there knows exactly what I’m talking about).

But today’s the day and the boys are still asleep (up late watching the local high school football team secure a win) and the farmer hubs is attempting to get out the door to work cattle so the house and the internet is all mine! Here’s the summary of my last 6 months.

The Boys

Being a boy mom is wonderful and hectic and hard and wonderful all at the same time. My boys, Evan, age 5, and Owen, age 2, have officially learned to roughhouse and wrestle. Evan is the sweetest, smartest, happiest kid. He’s in all-day kindergarten and loves it. Evan is reading, making friends and a little nerd, just like me. But he’s also a bit bossy (also like me) and that gets him into a bit of trouble at home when he tries to make all the rules for his brother.

Owen, on the other hand, is loud and chatty and aggressive and demanding (like his father). He plays hard but he loves hard and when you need a chuckle, go find Owen. He’s sure to put a smile on your face. He loves his big brother but will not – I repeat will not – be bossed around. The bossy boy and stubborn boy have more than once come to blows and I’m just not ready for that stage of life yet. But alas, here we are.

Both boys adore life on the farm and take any opportunity possible to ride along with Dad or Grandpa. And their off-the-farm adventures haven’t been too shabby either. In a single year they have: rolled Easter eggs on the White House lawn, experienced a K-State football victory from the President’s suite, experienced the mountains of Idaho, meet too many elected officials to count, experienced a NASCAR race first-hand and flown on multiple airplanes.

The Farm

It’s Oct. 26 and we’ve already experienced our first snow. This year started out dry but has ended with above-average rainfall. We needed the rain but when it all comes at once it’s a bit less helpful. We had a decent wheat harvest and a good corn harvest. We’re half-way done cutting beans and have wheat in the ground and are growing alfalfa again for the first time in a very long time.

The cows have begun returning home for the winter and we’ll start seeing new baby calves in about 10 weeks. (Eeek, I’m so not ready for calving season).

Things in farm world haven’t been the best. Prices are still way down from just a few years ago and there is so much we want to do with the farm but just can’t find the extra dollars to make it happen. We’re fortunate that our diversification of cows and crops has allowed us to continue doing what we love but it’s been a struggle every step of the way.

My husband doesn’t like to talk finances and his whole life is in the farm so I know he’s making the best decisions possible but sometimes this farm life is just plain hard!

The Job

I’m still hard at work for U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall. It’s been a whirlwind 2 years (almost) but it’s been so much fun along the way. I have met some of the best people in the world, experienced things I never thought possible and helped represent my state and my industry in Washington D.C. It’s stressful trying to balance a 40-hour-a-week-plus job with kids and a farm but it’s worth it and I tell anyone who asks that I’m raising flexible, adjustable young men who understand that it takes hard work, sacrifice and a little chaos to put food on the table and toys on the shelf.

The Rest

Sadly, there isn’t much else outside of work, farming and the boys. That eats my time, my energy and my paycheck! I’ve long since given up watching T.V. on a regular basis and haven’t seen many of my friends in months. But I know I’m not alone, I’m blessed to have a tribe of fellow farm wives who all endure the same long days, work-filled weekends and single-parenting stints that are required when married to a farmer.

My farmer has to be one of the worst communicators in the world and has a memory for all things cows but never what I need him to remember (I say all that in love because when I’m gone he steps up to the plate big time). Thank goodness for parents and in-laws who fill in the gaps and play parent when neither of us are around. Of course the boys love spending time with their grandparents so it’s hardly a sacrifice on their part. It’s a blessing to raise our boys so close to both grandparents and all four sets of aunts, uncles and cousins. They don’t realize it now but they are so, so lucky.

I’m still running in the mornings and try to race when I have a weekend free. It’s football season so we’re catching a K-State game whenever possible and cheering on the Inman Teutons as they move through the play-offs.

The Politics

You know me, I have to get in a word our two about something in the headlines. I have a lot of feelings about a lot of issues but I’ll keep it short and sweet, all women – better yet all white women – do not think, believe, feel or react the same. I am a conservative mother of young boys. I do not tolerate sexual harassment of any kind, but do not believe in ruining a life because of a 30-year-old fuzzy memory.  Women are not a monolithic voting block and should not be treated as such. I am not beholden to my husband nor any political candidate and party. I don’t vote or support candidates to ruin someone else’s life. I vote to protect my way of life, my values and my beliefs.

All that being said, no matter your party affiliation, beliefs, values or lifestyle please use the opportunities afforded to us as Americans and exercise your right to the ballot box on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Cast your vote and make your voice count.

**I’ll get off my soap box now and return to my farm talk**

That’s all for now. Evan is out of school today so we’re going to attempt to carve pumpkins (eeeek!). You can follow along with all of my trials, trips, trying moments and truly beautiful sunrises at @sawyerfarm on Instagram and Twitter.