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Given the option, are the 2-3 years of your DCs life the most important to be around for?

(17 Posts)
Vinividivino Wed 17-Jul-13 13:38:44

A friend of mine gave up full time employment when her daughter hit 2 years and firmly believes that her DD developed so much during that 2-3 year age group that it was really important to her to be around to help her develop. I respect her a great deal for doing that, particularly because the family took a significant financial hit to do so. As my daughter approaches that age, it got me thinking (and a bit worried to be honest) and I wondered whether anyone has any views on 1) whether this is indeed a particularly crucial age to be around as much as possible (including giving up work to do so if at all financially possible - which for a lot of us, I appreciate, it isn't) and 2) what DC age you think it is particularly important to be around as much as possible for.

For my part, I would love to be able to pare down my working hours when DD start school, so I can be around to pick them up, take them to any extra-curricular things, help them with homework but I know this is the point that a lot of my friends are planning to go BACK to work!

Will I regret missing the 2-3 year, do you think? Is there ever an ideal?

CockyFox Wed 17-Jul-13 13:44:30

I honestly think the pre-school years are the most important so 0-3. I think this because when DS was this age he spent a lot of time with my mum (as I was useless) but DD has spent this time with me and I feel that DD has a better bond with me and is a more relaxed and content child. She is much happier to leave me whereas DS is insecure and still gets edgy when I take him to school aged almost 7.
I know the fact DD is my second born my be the reason in itself but I still feel I know her better.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Wed 17-Jul-13 13:48:06

0-3, definitely. After that they can start gaining independence.

CockyFox Wed 17-Jul-13 13:48:12

Also DD starts nursery class in September and I will stay off work until she settles. I am planning to go back in the new year fingers crossed.

I don't think there is any need to struggle for money for the sake of taking a child to football club or whatever.

GladbagsGold Wed 17-Jul-13 13:54:38

Mine are 8 and 6 and I don't think there is a 'magic year' so far tbh. I've managed to juggle work and children all the way along. If I had to pick a year I'd most like to have off, it'd be when they are at school and create mountains of laundry and are fun to be around. Not when they are going through the terrible twos!

breatheslowly Wed 17-Jul-13 14:05:48

I work PT and hope to continue to do so while DD is in primary school (she is nearly 3 now). I don't think there is a magic age - so I prefer to continue to work, but with some "quality time" with DD from only being PT. While 2-3 is an important age for development, I think a good nursery (or CM) can really facilitate development, so being personally there every minute isn't necessary. The staff at DD's nursery are real professionals who carefully plan to scaffold her learning. I couldn't replicate that at home.

dreamingbohemian Wed 17-Jul-13 14:06:57

I think any age can be important, for different reasons.

I was glad to stay home with DS the first year, he was a very happy and chilled out little guy, and I think it was really good to have so much time together and let him just 'be' without worrying about schedules and pickups etc.

But for example now he is 3 and a willful toddler and I think it's been great for him to be with a childminder the last year. He's learned to get along with other children better, he's picked up loads of good habits that he resisted with us, it's been a gentle introduction to preschool routines.

And I agree with people who say it's actually good to be there for them when they're teens. I feel like I hardly ever saw my parents when I was a teenager, and it did have a lasting impact on our relationship.

Basically I think there are too many variables to say one age is definitely the most important. It depends on your family and what your child is like and what your employment options are.

CaptainSweatPants Wed 17-Jul-13 14:09:15

Mine are 9 & 7
I think it's more important to be around after school so you can help with homework etc
I'm currently trying to work out with work how to be around when they finish their secondary school day - I don't want them starting a brand new school & coming home to an empty house

Smartieaddict Wed 17-Jul-13 14:16:21

I am only 5 years in to this parenting lark, but I don't think there have been any years so far that I felt I needed to be around, more than others, until possible this last one.

I have been very grateful to be around in the daytime this year, while DS has been in Reception, as there seems to be something on at school most weeks, and DS is so delighted to have me there. I do work, but shifts, so I am usually around in the daytime. I do think it must be difficult for parents who work more standard hours to try and get to all the various school events.

steppemum Wed 17-Jul-13 14:25:31

yes to preschool years

but I wouldn't like to isolate 2-3
0-1 is also crucial for developing emotional security, without which nothing else flows.
and preschool is actually until school so until 4+

LazyMonkeyButler Wed 17-Jul-13 14:27:55

I'm not sure TBH. I was a SAHP with DS1 at the age, and worked PT with DS2 & DD. I don't feel that my younger DCs miss(ed) out on my not being around 24/7.

DSis didn't have the luxury of choice - as a lone parent, she needed to work to pay her mortgage & support herself and DNiece. DNiece is now a lovely, cheerful, kind 9 year old who seems as well adjusted to the world as any other child of her age.

I can't see that 2-3 is any more important than any other year to be fair. I've actually never heard this opinion before.

Mandy21 Wed 17-Jul-13 14:40:57

It really depends on your children and what their needs are. For me personally, I think 2-3 was the age that they needed me slightly less – certainly an age (in my view) that they needed more independence, more or a wider variety of experience, socialisation with other children. I think that Reception is a really important age – to make everything associated with school as easy a transition as possible and to really bed them into school / learning etc / feeling secure. We also live in a selective area for secondary school so Year 5 will be an important year for prep for entrance exams.

rrreow Wed 17-Jul-13 15:19:42

I'm a firm believer of quality over quantity, but I am talking from a slightly privileged position as I work from home. Having said that though, work means work and I don't actually interact with DS, who is 26 months, that much during the working day. He is looked after in our house by my SiL 2 days a week and 3 half days, and goes to nursery 3 half days.

I believe I can be a much better mummy if I'm working during the day, because it gives me a balance in my life so I can be fun & engaged in the evenings and on the weekends. If I were a full-time mum I would be stressed and crap at it. I think my SiL and the nursery are much better equipped to provide a fun, stimulating and educational environment for DS's development than I would be able to do.

Also we are raising DS bilingually, I speak the minority language and despite this he is picking up my language at an equal rate to English. Which I see as reinforcing the quality over quantity argument.

matana Wed 17-Jul-13 16:04:43

I just think it's important for children to have BOTH parents fully engaged during whatever time they do spend together, at whatever age. Why is it always the mother who feels guilty/ is told that it's vital to be at home with their DC? I love my dad no less just because my mum was the one who stayed at home with me while dad worked. I am close to both of them. And i also happen to think i'm a pretty well rounded person.

I stayed home for 10 months with DS and took out a loan so i could spend a couple more months with him. And when i went back to work i ensured he had good, consistent, one to one childcare with a CM (who he adores) and was always dropped off and picked up by myself or DH. During his 2.6 years i have swapped my hours, worked from home, juggled holidays and time off, meetings etc so that barely a day passes without me tucking him up in bed and reading him a story, or going to his CM without home cooked food in his lunchbox. And my DH also takes one afternoon a week off to look after him through a flexible working agreement. I have always (until recently) worked ft, but have always felt we have (somehow!) spent enough quality time with him - though of course i often yearn for more and of course often feel guilty. But we do things together almost every weekend and go for bike rides after work etc. DS will always come first and if i ever thought the balance was out of kilter, i would change it.

But he is emotionally secure, confident, outgoing, loving, affectionate and extremely bright. And my bond with him is beyond anything i could ever have imagined pre-children. So i guess we must be doing ok. I hope we can maintain the balance into his teenage years and beyond!

ThreeBeeOneGee Wed 17-Jul-13 16:06:37

Based on my experiences so far, I would say 0-3 and 11-14.

Vinividivino Wed 17-Jul-13 16:15:33

Wise MN-ers, thank you! it's great to hear your views. I take consolation in and agree with the view about the value of nurseries/childminders/other relatives at this, and other stages. I keep thinking of that phrase that it takes a village to raise a child and I know that DD would be bored rigid with just me for company all day as much as I like to think I'm a parenting goddess, sadly Cbeebies is my best friend too much of the time!. If I'm honest, I also wonder how much of this is also about ME and my fears of regretting missing out on their pre-school years.

breatheslowly Wed 17-Jul-13 16:54:25

I am confident that DD is better off going to nursery, rather than being at home with me. She would be bored and my patience isn't great. When people ask me if I feel guilty about her being in nursery or whether I would prefer to be at home with her, I find it quite confusing. I love the time we spend together, but it is enough. I love how much she gets from nursery and how positive her relationships are with the staff there. Perhaps my own childhood helps me to have this perspective. We had nannies and au pairs because my DM worked. I had great relationships with them and never wished that my DM was at home full time instead. I also have a lovely relationship with my DM and have always been confident that she is there for me.

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