Over the summer I received a summons for Jury Duty. Straight away I was torn between being interested in the whole process and what it would be like, and the fact that it meant leaving Monkey in someone else’s care while I did it. After all, I made the decision to be at home looking after him full time, so the thought of leaving him to do Jury Duty brought back all those worries. The biggest problem in arranging the childcare is that you have no way of knowing how long or what hours you will be needed. It’s a two week period but they aren’t any more specific than that.
They do give you money towards childcare, so we considered nursery or childminders, but we thought that both of those options would be difficult because we’d have to get him ready with sessions beforehand, and because it is so unknown what hours I would actually be there, we thought a more flexible approach would be better. We agreed with the grandparents that my parents would do a couple of days, Hubby’s parents a couple of days and then Hubby wanted to take a few days off to help. Having spoken to other people who have done Jury Duty, some have only had to be there for a few days in all, others for half days some days, so we need them to be quite flexible.
I think it’s fair to say we were all a little nervous about how it would actually go. He has been quite a mummy’s boy and we have struggled with separation anxiety quite a lot. The last time my parents looked after him was on my birthday and he screamed the place down. The last time Hubby’s parents looked after him he seemed to really withdraw into himself and was so clingy with me for ages afterwards. He was quite wary with both sets of grandparents for a while too which was really hard for all of us. I mean, he still liked them, but he seemed a bit scared they were going to take him away or that I was going to leave him.
We deferred the Jury Duty until September so we could fit around my parents holiday, and a good time for Hubby to be able to leave work at the drop of a hat if necessary. This also meant that we had time to work on Monkey’s relationships with his grandparents. I decided that it was worth them playing with him at our house, where he is obviously the most comfortable, and then after lunch them taking him to the play park for some fun, because he loves it there!
The first times with each set of grandparents surpassed all of our expectations and he had so much fun. There was a tiny bit of looking for me or being a bit upset when he realised I wasn’t there, but they were able to distract him into having fun. As the weeks have gone on his relationships with them have improved so much. In this way it’s been great as it’s prompted us to make the effort and it’s been so much better for all of us. I have been loving it too as for a couple of hours every week I get to clean the house or do my own thing while he is out with the grandparents! Brilliant! He loves them all so much now too and really knows them that it is wonderful to see.
I mean, obviously he is that couple of months older too which really does make all the difference.
So that was the preparation, but the prospect of doing it was still daunting. An hour here or there is of course massively different to the whole day, for a couple of weeks. Plus I knew I was going to miss him! Being a stay at home mum is hard work sometimes but I do love it and it’s not like I want to change it. I would still rather be at home with him than out at work, but I have to do this, I can’t get out of it so I just have to do everything I can to prepare for it.
I’m obviously nervous of the thing itself too, because it is a huge responsibility, it’s people’s lives after all, and deciding whether they are innocent or guilty. Like wow, my days are going from playtime and baking and postman pat, to crime and law and seriousness. Crazy!
There’s not really anyway I can prepare myself for that as it’s a whole new world really, so all I can do is concentrate on preparing Monkey and the grandparents. Making sure they know his routine and that his little world stays as familiar and happy as possible. I just have to hope that it’s a nice easy case or that I don’t actually get called onto a panel so I don’t have to be away from him too much. Fingers crossed!