This past week, we were on our own again. After being pampered like small kids for almost six months, we are back to the juggling act again. The so-called juggling act between domestic and work affairs, that is. If you asked me why I’ve been so productive at work, I would tell you that it’s because my mother was around all this time to help me take care of my daughter, and that she had practically managed all of our household affairs. For instance we didn’t have to worry about taking our daughter to the daycare in the morning and picking her up in the afternoon. Mom took care of that for us. We didn’t have to worry about what to eat for dinner. Again, Mom made sure that there was always something hot and delicious waiting for us when we get home. She took care of logistics, food, and cleaning. Aya is the litterbug of our home, as any toddler is I suppose, but Mom made sure to clean up after her, every time. What more could you ask for? Indeed, life was a bed of roses.
Well, all that has changed. Since last week we were back to cleaning our own mess, making our own meals, and taking care of our daughter. As it should be, right? It’s going to be a difficult adjustment for us, but in time I’m sure we’ll be humming along with the rhythm just fine.
That’s the downside of living here in Japan. In absence of household help, you have to do everything from housekeeping to taking care of the children. That’s no easy task – just ask any homemaker or stay-at-home wife and mother. If both parents are working, then at least it’s possible for them to put the kids in the daycare while they are at work. The good news is that at least the daycare system here is efficient and trustworthy, and they still involve parents in various ways and organized activities. I mean, you just don’t haul your children to the daycare and leave them there like that. There is a daily checklist of things to provide and submit. Everyday involves bringing clean, dry towels, bibs and clothes, and taking the same used items back home at the end of the day. There are monthly height and weight measurements, and occasional health and dental checkups. Everything is recorded in the kid’s health booklet, which is submitted to the parents for signing as with a student’s report card. There are dozens of handouts written in Japanese – enough to give you a headache if you didn’t know enough Japanese. And before I forget to mention, everyday I have to write in Japanese in Aya’s “renraku no-to” – a some sort of written form of communication between parents and daycare teachers. It’s like forced writing in Japanese, everyday – argh! If it’s any consolation for me, the daycare teachers probably have a more difficult time making sense of my bad Japanese grammar and childlike scrawlings of kanji characters. Hey, at least I try to write something. The very first few days when Aya attended daycare, I left my portion of the page blank – until I was reprimanded for it. So now I write whatever comes to mind. Mundane things like if Aya’s pooping fine or not. 😛 No, seriously. It makes them feel better that I am paying attention to my child’s condition.
For working parents, it is inevitable for “work” to continue all the way home, and parents don’t “clock out” until their kids are fast asleep. I don’t know that it’s more advantageous, in the long run, for a child to grow up under 100% parenting at home. At any rate, this is not a possible option for us, with both of us working. Aya has been attending daycare since she was 10 months old. The advantage is that she is growing up to be quite a sociable kid, and even bilingual at that (Nihongo and Tagalog). Years from now she would probably be speaking Japanese much better than us. Already she is picking up a lot of English words from the cartoons she watches on tv. I’ve also started communicating to her in English. Her learning rate is tremendous.
Tomorrow is Monday. We will be waking up early in the morning to prepare breakfast, Aya’s things for the daycare, ourselves, and everything else to start another working week. Oh yes, tomorrow is also “obento no hi” at the daycare, so that means that we also have to prepare Aya’s packed lunch.
Time to buckle up, indeed.