You might remember that I was firm in my decision to focus on my new career as a content creator. In fact, after my Ultimate Guide to Winter Illuminations Across Japan’s 47 Prefectures was published, I was genuinely surprised when people reached out to me for collaborations. #humblebrag. Still, when the opportunity arose for me to be a part-time relief teacher, I jumped at it. Little did I know I was getting myself into a mess.
First Day Jitters
It’s been nearly 1 year since I took maternity and child care leave. And somehow, I didn’t figure that returning to the classroom would be so difficult. Is it the gap? Or is it the new commute? The school and routine? New co-workers and new students? I have no idea, but whatever it was, I was incredibly anxious on my first day. And on the second day, I thought, “I can’t do this. Why I am here? I don’t know anyone here. I barely know the names of my kids!” I literally couldn’t even answer simple questions that the kids asked me!
Working at home means I do things at my own pace, when I feel like it. All of my work is done via computer, with a few in-person meetings. But in the classroom, it’s not about me anymore. Now, I have to communicate and have conversations with others. Weird.
I wouldn’t be able to go back to work unless I had daycare for the baby. Fortunately for me, my husband, after much back and forth with his company, is taking paternity leave. He can only take leave until baby’s 1st birthday (February). Afterwards, she’ll have to attend daycare until I finish my contract when the Japanese school year ends in March. As a side note, the process for applying for paternity leave is just so ridiculous and time-consuming. I am currently drafting a separate post detailing how Japanese companies and society practically discourage fathers from taking leave. The current government under PM Abe is trying to address this sititation, but only time will tell if we’ll see actual change.
Off to Daycare
For the month of December, baby will be heading to daycare once a week at my school. I’ll be in 4 year old kindergarten, and she’ll be with the other babies. From January, she’ll be going several times a week.
First Day of Daycare! 👶🏼🏫👶🏼🏫👶🏼🏫👶🏼🏫👶🏼 Somehow the monster made it through her first day of daycare. There was lots of crying, of course, but I managed to resist the urge to go over and check on her! 👶🏼 She’s the smallest of the class so she spent all day in the baby carrier. The daycare little ones went outside, and it was fun to see her in a new environment.
On a side note, I’m lucky that I could return to the classroom. There are plenty of moms in Japan who want to go back to work, but can’t find day care for their kids. I even worried that there wouldn’t be space in daycare for me even though I am a teacher. Check out my post over on Best Living Japan to read more about the struggle to find adequate daycare in Japan.
It’s only been one day, but I definitely felt guilty about sending her to daycare suddenly. She’s the youngest in her class and can’t yet walk. How would she adjust? Would I have to stop my lesson to nurse her? What if she cried all day?
And, I don’t doubt my husband’s ability to take care of her, but this week must be so tough on her now that I’ve suddenly started going out without her. I feel awful in the morning when I’m getting ready to go and can’t take her with me.
I feel like I should have spent more time playing and reading books and going outside together instead of researching and typing articles with the monster strapped to my chest. Now she’s 10 months old and it feels like everyday she’s learning something new. To be fair, I’ve only been working for 5 days. Still, in these 5 days, she’s learned how to:
- clap her hands
- do baby sign language for “please” and “thank you”
- climb on and off the sofa without help
- walk a few steps unassisted
I imagine this is what it must have felt like for my husband while he was at work.
One of my students have a brother in daycare, and I’ve been exchanging messages with her mom about our babies. It’s funny – I’ve written in previous posts here about not wanting to be “just” a mom… and now I’m happy to have a mom to reach out to!
Check out my other posts on life with baby:
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