Baby Talk: Starting Daycare
It seems like the summer has just flown by. On May 26th, my son was born and I was amazed at all things shiny and new that my new life presented. The first two weeks were a blur but we eventually moved past it all and me and the little man finally got into a routine. The days were filled with naps and feedings and fun time together, but I always knew in the back of my mind that our constant time together would eventually come to a hault once I started back to work full time.
One of the things that fellow moms will tell you when you get pregnant is that one of the most important things you can do is start looking for a daycare- and they couldn’t be more right. My husband and I sat down and went over financials to see where we stood and how much we could (and were willing) to spend on daycare for Ethan. We also went over some values and criteria that we deemed important and with those few tools in my pocket, I started my search when I was about four months pregnant.
No one ever told me how hard it would be to find a good fit. It seemed like most of the places that I loved were completely out of our price range (seriously, who KNEW daycare would cost so much?) and the ones that fit our budget just didn’t seem like a perfect fit. So, the search continued until finally we found a great fit at a Baptist Church that is literally a few blocks away from where I work. Relieved that I finally found THE ONE, I submitted the paper work and paid our deposit.
I continued on through the rest of my pregnancy feeling completely comfortable with my decision and never once though that I would have an issue with Ethan starting daycare, and that feeling continued right up to August, when our days spent together full time were coming to a close. I cried, I prayed and I thought long and hard about just becoming a stay at home mom, but I knew that it wasn’t really an option for us financially. I mean, technically, we could have made it work, but I decided to give it a shot and if I still hated sending Ethan off to daycare and working full time, then I would revisit my decision then. But I had to try first to see how I felt.
The first day crept up on us faster than I care to admit and before I knew it, I was dropping my baby off for his first day. Oh man, I’ve never been more a mess. I’m sure his teacher was used to seeing mom’s react this way, but I was literally choking back tears the entire time we were there. The husband and I said our good bye’s and walked out of the classroom. I silently watched from the window, wondering how I could possibly do this to my baby, the little guy that I carried in my womb for 9 months. I wept as soon as we got inside the car and was seconds away from running back inside and grabbing Ethan from his teacher’s arms, but the husband reassured me that we were making the right decision and that he would be OK. But, would he be? My mind filled with every terrible scenario that you can imagine but I reluctantly agreed and embarked on my first day without Ethan.
The day went by so slow and every thought was filled with Ethan. I stared at pictures of him on my phone and wondered how he was doing. Around lunch time I caved and went to check on him. When I arrived, I was quite surprised with what I saw- he was completely content and wasn’t even crying. Sure, his teacher said that the morning had been difficult, but she reassured me that it always is with a new baby for the first few days. I stayed by his side for a few moments then left, fearing that I would do more damage than good if I stuck around too long. So, I headed back to work albeit still with tears in my eyes.
Each day got easier and so far, he seems to be enjoying it. We have officially survived one full week of daycare and although I miss Ethan like crazy, I know that it is for the best. He can make friends, gain some independence, but most importantly, always know and trust that his parents will be there at the end of the day to take him home and shower him with love. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him smile more than when he sees our faces at the end of the day. I may change my mind in the future but right now, I think we will both survive and in the long run, I think this decision will be one of the best I’ve ever made.
A few tips that I’ve discovered that have helped me along the way:
- Always start your search early. Finding a good fit is much harder than you think.
- Help baby make the adjustment slowly. I had my mom take care of Ethan my first week back at work, that way he could get used to not being around mommy 24/7 and also learn to take the bottle. This also helped make the transition easier for me.
- Work on developing and implementing a schedule before starting. It helps tremendously. Yes, I know this is much easier in theory but definitely helps.
- Leave blankets, toys, and other things that “feel” like home. I feel like it helps soothe him.
- Develop a relationship with their teacher. This has been crucial. Please remember that no one knows your child better than you and I think it is unfair to send the baby off without letting his caregiver know more about him. I filled her in on his feeding schedule, typical behaviors, preferences, napping, etc, etc. I figured the more knowledge the better.