News from the Home Front

I told you all last week that I was feeling better and ready to go back to childcare…so ready in fact that I actually started.

Starting back to childcare was really hard for me.  If you are a long-time blog reader you know that I’ve done childcare on and off since 2000 or so.  When Covid originally hit in March of 2020, with my health and with doctor recommendations, I stopped childcare.  About then my cancer concerns were growing and I was at a loss at what I was supposed to do.  Both of my doctors suggested I not do childcare.  I was considered high risk.

So I followed the doctor’s advice.  I quit doing in-home childcare.

My childcare families found new providers.  Two of them ended up at the same spot…a few months later they weren’t happy with the care and then the lady quit.  So…they contacted me and asked please would I do care, just temporarily so that they could find someone.  From there one thing lead to another and I was back to doing limited childcare.  I had three of my old families back and my grandkids.

I was content doing care…but then my cancer stuff really blew up last fall and in December I started treatment.  Around here Covid numbers were super high and exposures were especially high.  I was nervous and my childcare families were nervous about my getting covid.  The timing would have been terrible and would have likely delayed my treatment had I gotten it.  So the decision was made for me to stop childcare.

I had the best time all of December.  I wasn’t doing childcare.  I was feeling good.  I took off and did things with Kalissa several times.  I was just soaking up the time not working.  When the grandkids were with me, I was so engaged with them and just thrilled to be spending time with them.  I just felt a load of stress drop off.  I was so happy.  I started getting a thought…how awesome would it be if I could just quit childcare and this would be my life?

Once Christmas hit, I was really getting sick.  The oral chemo meds had started wreaking havoc on me.  Then it was the trips to Rochester for treatment and then the hospital stay.  Initially, I was good but by Tuesday I was not good at all.  I was not myself and didn’t like it a bit.  I ended up at the doctor’s three times trying to figure out if there was something they could do to help the problems I was having post-treatment.

Initially, I was supposed to start back to childcare on the 1st of February.  It was easy to see that there was no way that could happen.  So we pushed it out…and I started thinking what if I never go back.  Could I do that?

The better I got, the more I dreaded going back to childcare.  I loved my days that were a little more laid back.  I loved days when Kalissa and Gannon came over and we hung out, did some of my things, and just enjoyed the day.  I loved talking to Kelli and the kids via facetime with no guilt about feeling like I’m not being attentive to the childcare kids.  I loved-loved-loved it.  Even though I wasn’t feeling tip-top, life was still good as there wasn’t that pressure to be up and at ’em.  There was no pressure to make sure my personal stuff was cleaned up and put away when the childcare kids were coming.  There was no trouble making a doctor’s appointment as I could make most anytime work.

I started talking to my kids about it.  Everything in me wanted to quit.  Financially, I didn’t need the money.  Sure, it was helpful but I didn’t need it.

The thing that was holding me back is knowing how hard it is to find childcare around here.  Twice when I quit doing care before, some of my families that left had bad experiences.  One childcare center that families had gone two ended up getting turned in to DHS for abuse.  I felt just terrible.

Then I heard that a gal that Kalissa went to school with was thinking about starting childcare.  Oh my.  I knew she would be a good provider.  I felt super about it but still wasn’t super sure I should quit.  I didn’t want to let the families down…and she wasn’t sure she was going to start.

Then I looked at all of the things I had wanted to do and didn’t get done while I was off childcare.  Oh, I wanted to be done doing childcare…but oh, I loved the families.  How, oh how, do I say no to them and yes to myself?  I am terrible at that, but it’s really what I wanted.

I talked to my kids again.  I got their opinions.  All of them told me to quit.

I wrote a letter and told my families I was going to quit.  But, I didn’t send it.   I thought I’d send it in the morning after I slept on it.

I woke up and chickened out.  I wrote a letter and told them I was going to be taking all Fridays off.  I felt better about that.  It was a compromise in my head…still I was a little sad.

Then I heard that yes.  The gal was going to start childcare.  YAHOO.  I could quit.  My families had a chance to find good care.  I loved this…but then I felt awkward because I just told them I was taking Fridays off.  Darn, I should have sent the original letter I wrote.

I continued on with my week having some of the best days as I took care of Carver and Gannon and we had the best time.  I did my errands one day and took Gannon with me.  The day Carver didn’t have school we cleaned the basement, played in the garage, did my recycling, and for a treat, for “helping” me we went and got ice cream.  We had the best time…but those are all things I couldn’t do if I was doing childcare.  I was loving these days and was so sad they were soon ending.

I ended up starting childcare on Tuesday of last week.  My one family was sick so only one came which was good…because later in the day Buck called me and said they had gotten home and Lucy was really sick.  She started in with a cough.  She had temp here but we didn’t think anything of it.  So…by Tuesday she still wasn’t better.  They took her in and she has Covid.  So…all of us, including me were exposed because she had a temp here.

So…I called my childcare mom.  She wrapped things up and came to pick up.  We didn’t want her little guy exposed to me in case I was getting it.  We decided I would be off for the rest of last week and this week.

As she was leaving I mentioned that the gal was starting childcare.  She said she knew and was happy for her.  I said, maybe my childcare kiddo could go there while I was off due to the Covid exposure.  Somehow the conversation came around to her saying that two of the families had wondered if I would even start childcare again.    I said I wondered too and almost quit.  She asked me if I wanted to quilt.  I said yes, but I hate it because I’d miss my families.

The mom said one of the nicest things ever to me.  She said, “You have to do what is right for you.  We’ll figure things out.”  Oh my word.  I wanted to hug her.  We left it there.

The next day she called me.  She had contacted that new gal that was opening a childcare.  She was calling to tell me that it was up to me.  I could quit if I wanted.  She had care secured and it was entirely up to me and I didn’t need to worry about them.  I quit…Oh, my word.  I hung up the phone and cried.

I totally LOVE my childcare families.  They are the best and they treat me so well.  I love the kids.  They are seriously the best kids even.

But…I hate being tied down.  I hate the frantic Sunday night clean-up because kids will be here in the morning.  I hate having to eat “kid food” some days for lunch.  I hate keeping track of everyone’s schedule and trying to schedule my own stuff in between care.  I hate inconveniencing others for my doctor appointments and taking time off.

I can feel my patience waning.  I had Kelli’s kids here one day and I just can’t juggle a big bunch of kids like I used to be able to do.  I can’t believe one summer I had our five kids at home and had 12 childcare kids at the house too.  Granted Kelli was 16 and was my helper.  There is no way I could do that now.

The first time I quit childcare was when Kelli was 24 or so.  I could see my kids were getting older and knew as grandkids came, I might not like childcare as much.  So…I quit thinking grandkids would be coming.

Grandkids didn’t come and I started childcare again.  I can see now that there is great comfort and joy in taking care of grandkids…but I don’t want to be taking other kids too.  Quitting was the right choice for me.

I will still be taking care of my grandkids.  With them, I have kids about three days a week and I can take them and go and do whatever I want.  It’s really casual and some days, I only have them half days.  It’s carefree and not a problem at all.

We’ll see how things go.  I might still have my after-school kids.  It’s just two and they are only here for a half-hour.  That’s not taxing.  We’re still working that out.  I don’t mind either way, whatever the parents need.

So…once things settle down…I’m going to sew and stitch more.  I hope to keep up with the garden this year.  I hope to get my sewing room clean and tackle my UFOs. My biggest hope is to take better care of the blog.  I feel so good that the decision was made…

OH, and about my covid exposure, so far nothing and I’m getting to the point of being out of the danger zone of catching it.  Lucy is better.  Buck, Lilly, and Lora ended up with it.  So far, Scotty hasn’t gotten it.  Hmm.  It’s all so curious.

…and that friends is what’s new on the homefront.

44 thoughts on “News from the Home Front”

  1. I just joined your site awhile back but I enjoyed your story & felt for you with all your struggles. Yes you must do what is best for you & look forward to more emails from you. I have been quilting now for almost 2 years and I love it!

  2. Jo we all want you to put yourself first. Reading your blogs it was obvious your devotion to your childcare families as well as your own, how you manage all that and still design and produce beautiful quilts and then there’s the most amazing cross stitching, Wow many times I would read your blog and i felt exhausted! How you did it all, but I hate to say it as we age so does the patience gene, and naps become the norm, this way you can do all what you really want, so Hurrah for Jo, do what you love , be with your amazing family, enjoy the next phase.

  3. I’m thrilled that you have come to this decision. Definitely the right one for you, your health etc. Your family must be very relieved too. Now you can enjoy your grandchildren and have the ability to do whatever you want when you want.

  4. i’m glad you made the best decision for you. I retired in November of 2020 at the age of 62. It was the best decision I ever made.My health has gotten better and I have so much less stress. Good for you. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

  5. Good decision! Compromising with just the after-school kiddos and pitching in with grandkids is a perfect solution. You will be much happier going forward.

  6. Cheryl in St. Paul

    Oh, Jo, the decision was such a hard one for you. That struggle certainly comes through in your telling of it. I’m happy you made the tough call and I know that you will just keep right on loving and caring and blessing people in new and rewarding ways.

  7. You gave that decision a thorough and proper evaluation and I think God has given you some wonderful people in your life, including the parents who were your clients. Enjoy your life! Everyone deserves that but you have truly earned it.

  8. The struggle you went through with this decision just shows how wonderful a person you are. It is okay to put yourself first sometimes. It is your turn!! I have a feeling you will be busier than ever and even doing more for other people in your new “semi-retired” role! Congrutulations!

  9. Wow Jo. What a struggle. Just think of the blessings you will be giving others as you finish all those UFOs and donate to causes you love because you love doing that. Best choice for you because of the stress level you will be easing. Stress can make healing so much harder. Good for you

  10. You are so fortunate to be able to decide to do whatever you want. Not everyone is free of financial obligations and can make those choices. Hopefully your life will be easier and less stressful which will boost your health.

  11. Good for you!! Sounds like you really evaluated carefully and the good Lord moved things along to help you. You have cared for those families and your community and your family. I know you’ll continue to be a support in this new era in your life. Drop that stress and move on. You will never be bored! We all know that!

  12. As you grow older, you will find that your wants and needs change. I used to love doing things that I now avoid like the plague. I’m very happy with my new choices. You thought about your choices and your health and you made the choice that is best for you. Now it’s time for ‘The Happy Dance’, to celebrate your new life.

  13. I watch only 2 of my grandkids during the week and some Saturdays. Another boy will be born in June! I love my time with them. Love them. But after having the 4 year old boy for about 10 hrs I’m ready for a break,! My 2 yr old granddaughter is a bit less exhausting and I have her less of the day. I think our first responsibility is always to our family. You have that many grandkids now that it seems to me you made the best decision. I’m guessing your childcare care families will still remain a part of your life. Blessings

  14. Congratulations Jo! That was a really tough decision but I believe it was the right one for you! We understand your concern for the families in your area but you must put yourself and your health and well being first. Now it’s time for “Jo Care”. I’m glad you will be able to be more free in your time and able to do the things you really want to. You’ve made the right decision even though it was difficult. Now onto the next chapter.

  15. What a hard decision you had to make, but I agree that you need this time to be available to your family and to YOURSELF. I have always been able to tell that your childcare kiddos were treated like your own and their parents loved you and the care you gave their children. Enjoy this new freedom!

  16. Congratulations Jo!
    Wonderful news. Retirement is great. I think people who have hobbies do great in retirement.
    Have fun with the projects and we’ll have fun reading about them.

  17. I know that you worry about your childcare families, but if you’re feeling tied-down doing it, then you made the best decision. Also your childcare families won’t have to wonder about when you’ll be available and can move on to another provider.

  18. You’ve made the right choice. Not only for yourself, but kids can tell when your heart isn’t in it caring for them, no matter how well you hide it. It sounds like the families had a feeling for a while that you’d be ending it, and already made backup plans.

  19. Congratulations Jo on making this very difficult decision. How awesome that a young woman in your community wants to begin a childcare, that you know and trust her and your heart is full recommending her to your families. Win all the way around.

    Enjoy retirement, your family and the days in front of you. (and I know you will!)

    Hugs to you :-)

  20. I am glad you made the decision to quit. You deserve time for yourself and your family. The childcare families were also very understanding too for you. Enjoy yourself now. Anxious to start the cross stitch on March 1.

  21. You have a heart of gold and always want to help others. I’m glad you found yourself in a position to be able to quit and spend more time with your family and do the things you love most. Life is pretty short.

  22. Diana in Des Moines

    Jo, I watch my 2 grands, aged 2 1/2 and just turned 1. I have worked full time ALL my life and retired just to watch the first baby. It was good, my needs took a back seat, but I had volunteered for this. Okay.
    Baby 2 came last Feb. Hubby retired in Oct. Thought it would be okay, he would help. But he doesn’t. He sits on the computer, his phone and the tv (all at the same time). I struggle with me time. I feel like all I do is feed kiddles, clean up, plan naps, pick up toys, make the next meal, clean up and pick up toys.
    Hubby says I’m being selfish, but still struggling.
    Fast forward – DIL’s hours change recently so, will have them early 2 mornings a week (Tues, Thurs 8-4) but still take Elliott to preschool and pick up 2 days, then lunch and naps. 3 days it will be 9-5 (I can sleep till 7:30!!!!) Spring is coming and I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

    I VOLUNTEERED to do this. Guilt weighs heavily on me to put them in day care. I refuse to do that. so the cycle starts over.

    I LOVE that you were able to say no and just watch your grands. 2 1/2 years into this and I will survive. Winter hits me hard. I want to snuggle with a good book and my cats and quilt a little.

    Thanks for listening. I am strong, I will survive, but can’t wait for spring!!

    1. Getting a balance to grandma-hood is so hard. At one point I had to talk to Kalissa and Spring and Fall I had the kids from 7:30am to 9pm because Craig is a farmer and Kalissa a nurse working 12 hour shifts. We ended up coming up with a compromise. She got a nanny for those nights who picks the kids up at 5pm and gives them supper, baths and gets them ready for bed. Things went MUCH better. Is the “other grandma” able to do a day a week or at least a day once in a while to give you a break?? It’s so hard…Wanting to help but wanting to enjoy some aspects of retirement.

  23. You should not feel bad because you want to stop child care. You handled it well when you were able. But you should now put yourself first. You owe it to your health and you owe it to your grandchildren to give you and your family as much time and love as you can. God bless you. I Love your blog and because of that I love your wonderful family. You have the kind of family many dream of. Enjoy your treasure!!!

  24. Congratulations Jo! Those are tough decisions to make, especially when you love the littles and know you are relied upon. It sounds like the stars aligned so you could make this change. Enjoy your grands and living for your joy, whatever that is!

  25. You are such a super woman, a super Mom, a super Grandmom, and a super childcare Mom! Wow! I can’t believe you even had time for cancer! So many people must love you and be grateful to you! You deserve to do what your Mom said, do what’s best for you! All the kids know you care for them, and they always will, but personally, I would opt for a little freedom in your scheduling! I wish you lots of luck and love! You are one very terrific person!!
    And thank you for your blog, for sharing your life. Now I don’t feel so alone in the world. I’ll bet you help more people than you could ever imagine!

  26. Some of these decisions are so hard even when we know what the right thing is. I am happy you will have more freedom and family time. That is so important.

  27. Holly in Two Harbors

    I am SO happy for you! That was absolutely the right decision. Congratulations on your new future of free days ahead!

  28. You really need to do what is best for you and your family! I hate saying no to others but in these times we really have to choose carefully. I spend my time with my little grandson. He’s 5 and I enjoy having him come over several times a week for play dates. I hope toy get to do everything you want. Hugs,

  29. Thanks for sharing the process of your child care decision. I go through similar things in my life as well. My kids tell me I can’t make a decision but I think it’s more that I don’t want to let anyone down. But often my decisions based on other people leave me unhappy. I’m glad everything worked out and you are done with daycare as you wish to be.

  30. Jo, you are completely smart. And completely compassionate. You will always make the right decision, and then you will make it even more right. Trust yourself.

    Could you maybe go over to that girl’s place once a month and do some activities with her kids, when the covid scare is over? She woul probably appreciate the help once in a while, and you could get a “fix” of kids beyond your grandkids… just an idea…

    1. Teresa from Port Coquitlam, BC

      That’s a great idea. A way to do something, help out the other child care woman and it gets you out of the house.

  31. Your daycare parents were so blessed by you, but, it’s time for Jo to take care of Jo. I have my grandchildren, ages 3, 19 moths and 2 months most days. It makes me appreciate daycare providers even more. My chair feels pretty good at the end of the day! It’s exhausting! You will enjoy your grandchildren so much more now. Have fun, especially when the days get a little warmer and you can get outside.

  32. Congratulations Jo! The decision to retire is a difficult one for most people … especially if it’s from a job that they ❤️. But, now that I’m retired ( 2 1/2 years) I realize that the world goes on. I am free to travel to see family, garden, cross stitch, quilt, whatever I choose. I like Kathleen’s idea of “helping ” the new child care gal out (maybe one morning a week or what fits your schedule). She might appreciate your help but I suggest you clear the air with her as she may feel you are butting in. I bet though you’d love to read a book or two to the kiddos. And what about those free hugs from the little ones!

  33. Judith Fairchild

    Jo, I babysat my Grands for 6 years. I had an 8, 1 and newborn at the start. I loved it but it was just 3 days a week so I got to rest up for the next week. Watching my grands grow from babies to school age was a treat. I cried when the 2 youngest started school. I still took care of them mornings because my daughter and her husband had to be at work so early. So the transition was made easier. Now I get to see them just once in awhile. Enjoy your Grands and be glad for all the good child care times you had. Stay well and enjoy your freedom.

  34. Time to take care of you and who you love. Making memories with those grandkids and having freedom! I think that is called retirement?? You have worked hard all you life and now is time to really have time for choosing what makes you the happiest!

    Glad you childcare families love you so to let you go!

  35. Jo, as you have noted before, your cancer journey will be ongoing, not ending. I’m so very glad that you have made the decision to shift to working in a way that enables you to take care of yourself (that’s NOT a selfish thing!) & to have time to do things you enjoy as well as spending meaningful time with your kids & grands. Service to others is a good thing, but should not always have to be at the expense of self-care. (Hugs)

  36. Congratulations Jo! I know this had tonne a difficult decision but I am proud of you! Its time to take care of you and enjoy your family! Think of this as a new adventure and live it to the fullest. I can’t wait to see how you blossom and in so glad that you will have more time.wotht the grandkids. You’ve been thru a lot and deserve to relax and enjoy life! We all out here in blogland love you!

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