a “normal mat leave” day

Hey. So I’m kind of still around. I don’t have the same will or time or energy to write and edit and “research” so I hazard a guess that more entries will be like this one – update-style, stream of consciousness, lightly editted.

At this point, I’ve been on mat leave for over 13 months, of an 18-month leave. Back in May 2019 when I was finalizing my decision, I knew that in the span between July and December in 2020, Kiddo would be starting Kindergarten and I wanted to be available to help him transition. Plus, Baby is my last kid and it would be my last mat leave and I’m in a position to take the extra six months.

So, it was a pretty brilliant summer 2019 once I got into a swing of things. Kiddo was in daycare three days a week and for the first few months (Baby was 22 weeks, I believe), Kiddo went to his grandparents when he wasn’t in daycare so I that I could concentrate on Baby. After being cleared for exercise, I registered for a series and then another and another of Mommy & Baby Spin and regularly dropped in to Spin Society and Hustle for Mommy & Baby classes.

My buddy B was on mat leave at the same time back in 2015 going into 2016 and in November, she joined me after her newborn was about a month old. In Toronto, my sister had a baby in the end of November and I was ever eager that she move to Vancouver before her infant got too old, before their roots in Toronto were too deep. In the fall, I also joined a Bring Your Own Baby book club at the library and attended a few monthly meet-ups.

In November, I was torn between bringing Kiddo with me and Baby to see the Halifax grandparents and having a vacation from Vancouver relatively when I brought just Baby. I wasn’t allowed to bring both kids in the end and most of my fears of Kiddo being solo parented by NPY were unfounded.

In February as chatter was increasing about the new coronavirus, I went to Toronto for under a week to meet my niece and a month later, we were locked down and that trip to Toronto seemed wildly surreal, at a time when the virus was present but definitely not much of a presence on a domestic flight.

Vancouver started shutting down in the beginning of March and a lot of Kiddo’s daycare friends did not attend during the week of March 16-20. There were like eight kids on Monday, five kids on Wednesday, and only one other kid on Friday! If anyone thought but didn’t tell me the wouldn’t have done that, I was feeling like it was getting increasingly safer at daycare! On March 15, Kiddo and his buddy (and us moms) went for a city hike in Stanley Park and we would congratulate ourselves we got to do that before we got locked down. A week earlier on March 7, four girlfriends and I had dinner for my birthday and in the midst of lockdown, that also felt surreal. Kiddo attended his last TKD and skate lessons on March 14 and 16, respectively. The recreation centers and libraries closed on March 17 – the day a book club meet-up was scheduled. Daycare closed after Friday, March 20. We start self-isolating on March 21.

So began the new mat leave. I didn’t have to manage homeschooling Kiddo but I tried to get him accustomed to doing some homework during Baby’s nap. Cooking all the meals. Baby was still eating purees so it was easy in some respect. I knew that we’re in a really good spot with job security and that I didn’t have the pressure of being at work, too.

Looking back at my calendar, it was only a week later when NPY started working from home so it floors me how long he’s been at home at this point.

Baby turned one year of age in the beginning of July and we were seeing family pretty regularly by then. Kiddo returned to daycare in the middle of July, a date selected because it was after Baby’s first birthday. It might have seemed unnecessarily early but I figured he wouldn’t have too much company and it’s better for him to be at daycare with friends than the toll it was taking on us and him for him to be at home every day. Even thought it’s not so long ago, I don’t really remember how we managed.

Baby was accepted into daycare for a June 1 start. At the beginning of the year, I updated her earliest start date from August 1 to June 1 in case there was competition to get one of the few infant spots and fortunately, there was TEF (Temporary Emergency Funding) the daycare was receiving such that we didn’t have to send her and we didn’t have to pay. That funding ends at the end of August.

B and I have enjoyed weeks of meeting up on Mondays when we only have the younger kids and then on Tuesdays when the older kids will play together at a local playground. But all things come to an end.

At the time of this writing, Kiddo has three more days of daycare and as sad as it is, it’s time. He grew and matured so much during our lockdown time together that I look at him and wonder, “How is he not in Kindergarten?!” After those three days, Baby starts her gradual entry. That is to say, just another week of mat leave as I know it with Kiddo regularly in daycare and I hang out with Baby.

In mid-August, my sister moved to Vancouver. She’s all the way in East Vancouver, but sheesh, she used to be in Toronto. It’s an adjustment for me to have her living long-term in the same city and what are the expectations/routine for how often we’ll meet up. Afterall, I cited several times that I’m on mat leave until January and won’t be as available as I am now! I’m betting that both of us having girls not five months apart in age will be plenty of reason to check in and have them hang out.

The very latest from Vancouver School Board (“VSB”) is an option under consideration (“Option 4”) where kids start going to school in-person starting at later points in the school year and are supported with an online curriculum before they do. Because until that VSB email recently, I was coming to grips with the idea of Baby in daycare three days a week and Kiddo in school five days, leaving me with many days kid-free! Since June when schools re-opened, until recently, I thought it wasn’t possible Kiddo would go to school every day and I came to terms with that.

In the second week of August, Kiddo attended a week-long day camp with a 9 am start and 3 pm finish. It was in Kitsilano – an 11-minute drive with no traffic – and that week wore me down. After drop-off which I could do without bringing Baby, I dealt with Baby’s nap and lunch and then it was time to pick up Kiddo again and the scramble to pick him up. I was relieved that school wouldn’t be five days a week! Kiddo’s school is a six-minute drive but just having to get into a car and drive is time consuming.

Assuming that Kiddo will be attending school under Option 4, that’s a few more transitions upcoming, shaking up my “mat leave life”:

  • Mid-September – late fall: Baby regularly in daycare, Kiddo homeschooled those days or “learning through experiences” – I won’t have any days to do errands and tasks
  • Late fall – Christmas: Baby and Kiddo regularly in daycare and school – there will be days I’m child-free and other days with both of them
  • January 2021 and onwards: Baby and Kiddo regularly at daycare/school and I’m back at work – no more mat leave, the very opposite of that

So that’s the update!

On this day..