15 December 2016

Goodbye to childcare

Today is my baby girl's last day at childcare. Over the last six years, between the two of them they have spent just over one thousand days in childcare and just over $250,000 has been spent on that care.
They said to label anything we didn't want to lose
Butter wouldn't melt right?
That would pay for four years of high school for Prince William.  Before extracurricular activities obviously but still, it practically makes the girls princesses right?

And it's worth it. I wrote a love letter to childcare in January 2014 and despite moving childcare centres shortly after nothing has changed for us. We remain strong advocates for the role of childcare in the lives of young children.

Childcare has been a brilliant investment in our daughters and in our family.  Childcare has been the place where they developed their first friendships. Friendships which have taught them about acceptance, negotiation, humour, fun and love. Childcare has given our daughters their first tribes and these support networks exist for them outside of childcare as much as they do inside.

Childcare has given them a love of learning. It has taught them that everybody can learn but that people learn differently. It has given them an insight into topics they might not have come up otherwise. They head off to big school with a smattering of paleontology, astronomy, engineering, mechanics, musical theory, musical application, geography, literacy, numeracy, humanities, creative expression, nursing, teaching, archeology, acrobatics, horticulture, domestic sciences, anatomy, magic, indigenous culture, languages, and 27 different ways to describe a fart. To name but a few.

Childcare has taught them resilience. Real life is not for the faint hearted. Sometimes people can be unkind. Sometimes you can be unkind. How you move on from the knocks and acknowledge your role in making somebody else's moment less than perfect is an important life skill. A room full of small, determined people means you have to learn how to process the things that happen around you and bounce back or you miss out on the fun. You also need to learn how to respond when you get bumped, kicked, pinched, bitten or broken. And as parents, you learn you need to stick to the speed limit on the odd trip to the hospital.

Childcare has taught them the negotiation skills required for a hostage situation. It has also taught them to remember anything any adult has ever said so they can contradict your lame excuses or white lies. It has taught them that Chef Clair is a much better cook than Mum or Dad and perhaps there is life beyond beige food.  Childcare has taught them to put on sunblock and hats whenever they go outside. It has taught them how to grow vegetables. Raise chickens. It has taught them hygiene. And that boys can have long hair. It has taught them about different family structures. Private parts being private. That piranhas love bananas and that sailors go to sea sea sea. It taught them how to make didgeridoos out of cardboard and a solar system out of balloons.

Childcare has given us community. It has given us a support network. It's given us the owner of a cupcake factory. A hairdresser. HR consultants. Lawyers. Tennis coaches. Caterers. Business owners. Clients. Suppliers. A place to live. Most importantly, friends.

So many many friends. Beautiful, funny, lifelong friends.

Even if working had not been a financial necessity for both of us, I like to think we would have had the good sense to invest in childcare. It has been an investment which has repaid itself in millions of tiny ways. We have been abundantly blessed with carers and teachers who have given so much love to our children. Carers and teachers that we now call friends.

Each time I dropped my girls for the first time at daycare, I cried. When my Tully finished last year, I cried.

I will cry again today. It is a milestone. An ending and a beginning.

My gorgeous feisty Cassidy is going to big school in six short weeks. She's ready. So very ready.


Farewell childcare. And thanks for the memories.


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